Three goals for Cunningham as Clare outclass Antrim

Antrim 1-10 Clare 4-28

Three goals for Cunningham as Clare outclass Antrim

Antrim 1-10 Clare 4-28

Champions Clare are through to another Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling final after battering hapless Antrim by 267 points in Thurles this afternoon.

Aaron Cunningham scored 3-3 as the Banner men advanced to a September 13 showdown with Galway or Wexford.

In a repeat of last year’s decider, Clare were far too good again for Antrim, who suffered a 22-point mauling almost 12 months ago.

And it was Cunningham who was tormentor in chief with two first half goals, before he completed his treble in the second half.

Tony Kelly was also on target with a Clare goal, with Seán McAfee raising a consolation green flag for Antrim in the first half.

The writing was on the wall for the Saffrons from a long way out as they found themselves ten points down, 0-0 to 1-7, before registering a score.

Cunningham bagged his opening goal in the 13th minute, pouncing from close range after Peter Duggan’s initial shot was well saved by Ciaran Butler.

Duggan, incidentally, was the only one of the six Clare starting forwards who didn’t register raise a flag on a day when eleven players got on the scoresheet for the Munster and national kingpins.

Antrim finally got off the mark in the 18th minute when McAfee palmed the ball home from close range following Keith Hogan’s save to deny Ciaran Clarke.

But Clare’s response was swift as Eoin Enright and Bobby Duggan landed points, before Cunningham netted again in the 21st minute.

Daniel McKernan scored Antrim’s first point a minute later but Clare added seven unanswered scores to lead by 18 points at half-time, 2-16 to 1-1.

The rout continued after the break although Antrim did trouble the scoreboard operators more.

The Ulster champions were helpless to stop Clare adding two further goals, however, as Kelly scorched through for a 39th minute strike, before Cunningham sealed his hat-trick with nine minutes remaining.

Antrim, to their credit, never stopped going until the full-time whistle, with Clarke and Stephen McAfee emerging as their brightest spots on an otherwise bleak afternoon.

ANTRIM: B Butler; M Dudley, P Burke, M Bradley (0-1); R McCambridge, J McGreevy, T Ó’Ciaráin; E Campbell, N McKenna; D McCloskey, Stephen McAfee (0-3), D McGuinness; D McKernan (0-1), Seán McAfee (1-0), C Clarke (0-3, 1f).

Subs: C Burke (0-1) for McGuinness (30), S McCaughan (0-1) for McCloskey (h.t.), J O’Connell for McKenna (38), M Connolly for McCambridge (44), E McGaughan for Seán McAfee (51).

CLARE: K Hogan, J Colleran, J Browne, S Morey; G O’Connell, A O’Neill, J Shanahan (0-1); C Galvin (0-2), E Enright (0-1); B Duggan (0-5, 3f), T Kelly (1-3), P Duggan; S O’Donnell (0-2), A Cunningham (3-3), D Reidy (0-3).

Subs: C O’Connell (0-6, 5f) for Reidy (30+1), N Deasy (0-1) for B Duggan (h.t.), S O’Brien for Morey (46), S Gleeson (0-1) for Galvin (46), A McGuane for Shanahan (51).

Referee: B Redmond (Wexford).

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