*Clare captain Eoghan Gunning excelled again at corner back. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

CLARE HAVE QUALIFIED for the All-Ireland minor hurling final for the first time since 2010 after overcoming the challenge of fourteen-man Kilkenny on Saturday afternoon.

Clare 0-23
Kilkenny 0-15
Venue: FBD Semple Stadium, Thurles

They say forwards win matches but defences win championships. This mantra can most certainly be applied to this Clare side who were resolute throughout this gripping All Ireland semi final. They also say hooks blocks and tackles decide matches. This Clare squad throw their bodies on the line every day in pursuit of glory and today was no different as they gave a defensive masterclass.

After a see-saw opening thirty minutes the Banner effortlessly moved through the gears to book their All Ireland final spot. That game will take place in Thurles on Sunday June 4th and it will be a fantastic occasion.

A first half that had drama aplenty including a sending off, several sensational points and an incredible 100 percent scoring efficiency rate from Kilkenny ended with Brian O’Connell’s charges leading by the bare minimum 0-11 to 0-10. Michael Collins opened the scoring after only forty eight seconds but this was followed by three Kilkenny points in the next five minutes. The Cats hurting from their Leinster Final defeat were on a mission. They were throwing themselves into every tackle.

Such was their ferocity that full forward Ed McDermott saw red for a late challenge on corner back Eoin Gunning, a harsh red if one is to be honest. They didn’t let this numerical disadvantage stop them though as the game was a highly entertaining end to end battle. Everything they fired seemed to go over with ten shots registering ten points but Clare had inspirational scores from a superb Ronan Kilroy effort to a monster Evan Price point before corner back Eoin Gunning lifted the roof off the stands in the 29th minute.

Bursting out of defence Gunning played a one two with Jamie Moylan before splitting the posts to tumultuous applause.

The second half began with two rapid fire Kilkenny points to give them a lead but this only angered these Clare warriors as they would go on to outscore Kilkenny twelve points to three for the remainder of the contest. It began with a five point scoring burst inspired by player of the match James Hegarty and by the time substitute Harry Doherty landed a peach in the fiftieth minute Clare supporters could make their plans for the All Ireland final.

The tackling was tenacious, the rate of turnovers was impressive. Yes Clare had twelve wides but still landed a whopping twenty three points as all roads now lead to Thurles on June 4th.

An incredible bunch of young men are now only sixty minutes away from All Ireland glory. Glory we as a county have not tasted since 1997. On this evidence and on all displays throughout the year it’s going to take some team to stop them.

Scorers for Clare: James Hegarty 0-6 (4f, 1 65), Marc O’Brien 0-4 (3f), Ronan Kilroy, Sean Arthur, Jack Mescall 0-2 each, Michael Collins, Harry Doherty, Emmet Mulcahy, Ogie Fanning, Jamie Moylan, Evan Price, Eoin Gunning 0-1 each

Scorers for Kilkenny: Conor Doyle 0-5 (4f), Greg Kelly 0-5 (3f), Ciallin Brennan 0-2, Bill McDermott, Darragh Vereker, Brian Moore 0-1 each

CLARE
1: Mark Sheedy (Sixmilebridge)

2: Eoin Gunning (Broadford)
3: Ronan Keane (Killanena)
4: Conor Rynne (Inagh-Kilnamona)

5: Matthew O’Halloran (Sixmilebridge)
6: James Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona)
7: Jamie Moylan (Cratloe)

8: Jack Mescal (Inagh-Kilnamona)
9: Evan Price (Clarecastle)

10: Ronan Kilroy (Banner)
11: Michael Collins (Clonlara)
12: Sean Arthur (Newmarket on Fergus)

13: Ogie Fanning (Doora Barefield)
14: Marc O’Brien (Cratloe)
15: Eoin Begley (Clonlara)

Subs:
19: Mark O’Connor (Doora Barefield) for J Mescall inj (35),
20: Harry Doherty (Clarecastle) for O Fanning (45),
22: Michael Power (Newmarket on Fergus) for E Begley (45),
17: Fred Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona) for S Arthur (51),
24: Emmet Mulcahy (Tulla) for E Price (58)

KILKENNY
1: Billy O’Sullivan (James Stephens)

2: Conor Brophy (Erin’s Own)
3: Evan Murphy (Dicksboro)
4: Rory Garrett (Fenians)

5: Darragh Vereker (Glenmore)
6: Mikey Stynes (Dicksboro)
7: Micheal Ahern (Emeralds)

8: Sean Bergin (James Stephens)
9: Ed Lauhoff (James Stephens)

10: Bill McDermott (James Stephens)
11: Greg Kelly (O’Loughlin Gaels)
12: Conor Doyle (Windgap)

13: Ciallin Brennan (Tullaroan)
14: Ed McDermott (James Stephens)
15: Brian Moore (Dicksboro)

Subs:
20 Robbie Doherty (Mooncoin) for C Doyle (37),
19: James 0’Neill (St.Martins) for B McDermott (43)
Noah Minogue (James Stephens) for E Lauhoff (53)
17: David Barcoe (Clara) for R Garnett (59)
21: Cian Phelan (Young Ireland’s) for B Moore (60)

Referee: Kevin Jordan (Tipperary)

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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