An inspirational performance by Shane O'Donnell wasn't enough to prevent Kilkenny from sending Clare to Division 1B in an exciting relegation play-off.
O'Donnell, with Tony Kelly as his able accomplice, was outstanding particularly in the second half where he was involved in almost all of his side's scores.
The teams were level for a 10th time when O'Donnell fired over a point in the 67th minute. O'Donnell, though, lost Kelly to an injury a minute later and it was Cillian Buckley who gave the 7,162 Nowlan Park a huge cheer when sending over the winner in injury-time and they had seen off their rivals by a solitary score for the second time in a week.
For Kilkenny, TJ Reid was superb in tracking back as well as in link play and it was thanks to him, in setting up Buckley for the last score, that the Cats weren't made to rue their litany of wides and shots that dropped short in the second half when they had the wind in their favour.
Kilkenny supporters had been irate with Cathal McAllister's handling of the game particularly in the first half when it was the 12th minute before they were awarded their first free. Ironic cheers greeted any further decision that went the way of the home side.
But it was McAllister's use of the advantage rule, which was more concerning. Twice in the first half, Clare benefitted from the new rule, which is not supposed to come into operation until next month. On both occasions, David Reidy was at the heart of it. In the 10th minute, he was awarded a free but not until the ball went wide.
In the 26th minute, Shane Prendergast was deemed to have fouled Reidy for a penalty but not before the Clare forward's kicked shot at goal was saved by Eoin Murphy. On both occasions, the resultant free was sent wide.
For his third time in Nowlan Park in the space of seven days, O'Donnell found the net when he availed of a Paul Murphy slip in the fourth minute and he expertly pushed the ball past goalkeeper Murphy before stroking the ball to the net.
Kilkenny struck back in the 18th minute when TJ Reid fielded a Richie Hogan sideline and fired it past Patrick Kelly. That put the Cats two up and a second point from Walter Walsh pushed them three ahead but in a error-strewn final 15 minutes it was wind-assisted Clare who finished the better and they led 1-8 to 1-7 at half-time.
KILKENNY: E Murphy; S Prendergast, P Murphy, J Holden; L Ryan, K Joyce, C Buckley; J Lyng, M Fennelly; W Walsh, TJ Reid, M Ruth; JJ Farrell, C Fennelly, R Hogan.
CLARE: P Kelly; C Dillon, P Donnellan, D O'Donovan; J Browne, Conor Ryan, D McInerney; T Kelly, P O'Connor; J Conlon, Colin Ryan, C Galvin; D Reidy, S O'Donnell, C McGrath.
Referee: C McAllister (Cork)
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid (1-3); R Hogan (0-5, 2 frees); C Fennelly, W Walsh (0-3 each); C Buckley (0-2); M Fennelly, K Joyce (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clare: T Kelly (0-9, 1 free, 1 65); S O'Donnell (1-3); D Reidy (0-3); J Conlon, S Morey (0-1 each).
Sub for Kilkenny: M Kelly for L Ryan (57),
Subs for Clare: C O'Connell for C McGrath (inj 21); S Golden for Colin Ryan (54); A Cunningham for C O'Connell, S Morey for C Galvin (both 63); B Duggan for T Kelly (inj 68).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved