Shane O’Donnell. Photograph:Gerard O’Neill
A share of the spoils with Kilkenny was enough for Clare to secure their place in the knockout stages of the Allianz National Hurling League.
Venue: UPMC Nowlan Park, Kilkenny
Despite dominating proceedings in the opening half, Clare were relieved to earn a draw as they exited Nowlan Park on Sunday.
A period of fifty four seconds marked the first three scores of the contest. Billy Ryan opened the scoring from the right corner, Colin Guilfoyle plucked Donal Tuohy’s puckout from the sky and got Clare off the mark before Kilkenny responded immediately through Adrian Mullen.
This rate of scoring attrition didn’t endure for the enter contest which was fortunate for Liam Gordon’s umpires as it remains to be seen if their wrist work would have been sufficient to maintain such waving of the flags for over seventy minutes.
Shane O’Donnell is no stranger to scoring goals in Nowlan Park having done so on several occasions over the years. The Ennis forward did so once again when Tony Kelly gave an excellent pass in his direction, O’Donnnell still had to work to do and that he did before nestling the sliotar low and hard past Darren Brennan.
Kilkenny cancelled out his seventh minute goal with three successive points courtesy of John Donnelly, Adrian Mullen and Richie Hogan. Alan Murphy frees aided the hosts in building a two point advantage.
Finishing the half with 1-05, Clare led by three at the break. Clooney/Quin’s Ryan Taylor raised his first green flag at senior inter-county level on twenty three minutes.
Brian Cody’s side outscored Clare 1-03 0-01 in the third quarter with substitute Ger Alyward pouncing for the goal. Tony Kelly was Clare’s sole scorer of the half up until the sixty seventh minute when Diarmuid Ryan made a brilliant turnover before splitting the posts.
Shane O’Donnell was quickest to react to a goalmouth scramble. His ground stroke put Clare back in the driving seat in the final moments of normal time.
Walter Walsh equalised straight away for Kilkenny only for substitute Aaron Cunningham to add a superb point from the sideline nudging Brian Lohan’s side back in front.
Murphy had Kilkenny back on level terms with a free on seventy one minutes. Chances from David McInerney and Tony Kelly went abegging but Patrick O’Connor made an essential hook to deny Bill Sheehan from clinching the winning point.
Seventeen wires hindered Clare’s ability to garner sustained momentum, many of the misses stemmed from poor decision making. Remaining unbeaten is a major positive for Brian Lohan’s side for whom Patrick O’Connor, Aidan McCarthy and Shane O’Donnell were best for the Banner.
Resilience has always been associated with Kilkenny teams under Brian Cody’s watch, it was demonstrated once again as they hung on till the bitter end to collect a point. Conor Delaney, Huw Lawlor and John Donnelly stood out for the Cats.
Scorers for Kilkenny: A Murphy (0-07 7f), G Alwyard (1-01), A Mullen (0-02), J Donnelly (0-02), W Walsh (0-02), B Ryan (0-01), R Hogan (0-01), R Leahy (0-01), D Mullen (0-01), E Cody (0-01)
Scorers for Clare: T Kelly (0-07 5f), S O’Donnell (2-01), R Taylor (1-00), C Guilfoyle (0-01), D Reidy (0-01), J Conlon (0-01), D Ryan (0-01), A Cunningham (0-01),
1: Darren Brennan (St Lachtain’s)
2: Conor Browne (James Stephens)
3: Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels)
4: Ciaran Wallace (Erin’s Own)
5: Conor Delaney (Erin’s Own)
6: Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels)
7: Darren Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
8: Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro)
9: Alan Murphy (Glenmore)
10: Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
11: John Donnelly (Thomastown)
12: Richie Leahy (Rower-Instioge)
13: Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan)
14: Richie Hogan (Danesfort)
15: Walter Walsh (Tullogher-Rosbercon)
22: Ger Aylward (Glenmore) for Mullen (22) (Inj)
16: Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan) for Browne (HT)
23: Bill Sheehan (Dicksboro) for Hogan (43)
26: Eoin Cody (Ballyhale Shamrocks) for Ryan (58)
1: Donal Tuohy (Crusheen)
4: Jack Browne (Ballyea)
21: Conor Cleary (Kilmaley)
2: Liam Corry (Éire Óg)
5: Stephen O’Halloran (Clarecastle)
20: Patrick O’Connor (Tubber)
7: Aidan McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona)
8: David McInerney (Tulla)
9: Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
23: Colin Guilfoyle (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
10: David Reidy (Éire Óg)
24: Domhnall McMahon (Tubber)
13: Ryan Taylor (Clooney/Quin)
11: John Conlon (Clonlara)
14: Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)
17: Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones) for Conlon (43)
26: Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe) for Guilfoyle (45)
15: Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones) for Reidy (58)
18: Podge Collins (Cratloe) for Taylor (64)
12: Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge) for McMahon (68)
Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway)