*Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

UNBEATEN from four games in the Allianz National Hurling League, Clare’s senior hurlers can be happy with their lot so far.

On Sunday, they maintained this streak when recording a three point win against Kilkenny in Cusack Park.

For this tie, Brian Lohan and his management used twenty players over the course of seventy plus minutes, their displays are rated here exclusively for Clare Echo subscribers.

Éamonn Foudy. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Éamonn Foudy –

Many Clare supporters were quite pleased to see Éamonn get a long-awaited run out in this year’s National Hurling League and the Inagh/Kilnamona rose to the challenge. Showed a slight bit of hesitancy that could have proved costly in the opening half but he picks up Clare’s first clean sheet of the 2024 league. He produced what was a vital double save on fifty eight minutes to stop the raising of a green flag, the concession of a goal here would have swung momentum firmly behind Kilkenny and may likely have altered the result. His distribution was the main reason he was handed the number one jersey for last year’s Munster championship opener and it was spot on in Ennis again, he may have been hitting his targets but they may not have been securing possession which will be evident in the puckout stats.

Rating: 7

Paul Flanagan. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Paul Flanagan –

Part of a full-back line that didn’t give anything away easily, Paul was in for his second start of the 2024 league. He was tracking the lively Cian Kenny, a player that likes to drift out the field and wherever he went, Flanagan followed. The Ballyea man wasn’t overly busy but can be happy with his involvement.

Rating: 7

Conor Cleary keeps his eyes fixed on the sliotar.
Conor Cleary –

Back in action after shaking off an injury sustained in round two, Conor took his place at the edge of the square. His physical presence was needed when Kilkenny tried to pepper some dropping high balls in to the danger area in the second quarter but Clare withstood this pressure. Exhibiting the urgency required to limit goal-scoring opportunities but the Miltown Malbay man was guilty on occasion of rushing when in possession.

Rating: 7

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Adam Hogan –

Getting the task to marshal Eoin Cody was one Adam Hogan was only glad to get. He limited the lively attacker to a single point from play as he became acquainted with the Ballyhale Shamrocks man. The Feakle student also impressed in his running off the ball to make himself available when fellow defenders were in possession and in need of an outlet. Exited the stage early in the second half after picking up a knock.

Rating: 7

Diarmuid Ryan –

How successive Kilkenny teams have been so dominant in the air has been a key weapon in their arsenal but on several occasions in Cusack Park, Diarmuid reached up into the sky and came down with the sliotar in his paw. In a way it was a gentle reminder of how much of a leader he has grown into within the side. The Fitzgibbon Cup winner finished off an excellent team-move to help Clare on the home straight.

Rating: 7

John Conlon. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
John Conlon –

Having picked up a knock in the second half, John bowed out of the arena on forty five minutes. Prior to this, he didn’t appear to be fully himself and wasn’t as influential in dictating matters from the heart of the defence. He of course was kept occupied with TJ Reid and managed to keep him scoreless from play. Made a fantastic block to dispossess John Donnelly on thirty nine minutes in what was his best contribution.

Rating: 6

Conor Leen. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Conor Leen –

In his first league campaign, Conor is not shying back and has been one of the more impressive of the fringe players. Added his name to the scoresheet with a point in the opening half and was not backing away from the challenge of Adrian Mullen. Positioning is something he will have to continue to work on. Injury as it so often has done, ended his involvement at half-time, had he been on the field for the second half, his rating would undoubtedly have been higher.

Rating: 6

Cian Galvin strikes under pressure. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Cian Galvin –

Started at midfield but Leen’s exit prompted Cian to go back to wing back for the second half. Whether he has the presence for the centre of the park at inter-county level has yet to be proven. One of Clare’s top performers against Waterford when lining out at wing-back, he was caught ball-watching in this role on Sunday which presented scoring opportunities to the opposition.

Rating: 6

TJ Reid is fouled by Darragh Lohan. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Darragh Lohan –

Like his midfield partner, Darragh found himself in one role and had to adjust to a new one as the game progressed. Linked the play well in the opening half and paved the way for David Reidy’s point on the tenth minute. Moved to centre back when Conlon bowed out, the move proved to be a mistake as Lohan struggled on TJ Reid, putting him on the six-time All-Ireland winner was unfair in itself, he coughed up frees and ultimately was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

Rating: 6

David Fitzgerald. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
David Fitzgerald –

Once again, Fitzy was Clare’s best performer but he has brought this consistency to the table over the past three seasons. Setting the example for Clare with how he breaks the lines and a player of his size and speed once he gets going is tough to stop. Ten points from play in two games from the Inagh/Kilnamona man who is not getting the credit he deserves in terms of his value to the Clare team.

Rating: 8

David Reidy takes on Richie Reid. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
David Reidy –

Akin to a busy bee in the opening half, Reidy’s best stage coincided with the spell in where Clare were their most dominant. The Ennis man had Clare’s fourth point of the afternoon but he was actively covering for his teammates by drifting back when they moved forward. Seemed comfortable in the eleven role but will need more trials there to see if he will get the nod for championship. His involvement waned as the game progressed.

Rating: 7

Peter Duggan controls the sliotar as David Blanchfield holds onto his arm. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Peter Duggan –

In what was the first start of this year’s league for Peter, he finished the day as one of Clare’s better performers. Supporters are slow to acknowledge the workrate he brings to the table as they tend to expect him to replicate his scoring exploits of his 2018 All Star season. Did well in the rucks and also chipped in with a first half point.

Rating: 7

Mark Rodgers is dispossessed. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Mark Rodgers –

A frustrating hour for Mark who found himself curtailed by Mikey Butler. The O’Loughlin Gaels defender is one of the top man markers in the game and has quietened Clare’s best forward so for Mark to be the subject of his attention is a compliment in itself. However, the Scariff attacker will have to learn from this outing as every management will be keen to try the limit the damage he can cause. His confidence was not helped by missing three frees by the eleventh minute which prompted management to switch freetaker. Clare supporters can look forward to seeing him bounce back in style.

Rating: 6

Aidan McCarthy –

When the frees were stripped from Rodgers, it was Aidan they turned to and he finished as Clare’s top scorer by registering six placed balls. From play, the Inagh/Kilnamona man was quiet as Huw Lawlor kept tabs on him, this may have led to him losing the cool and picking up a yellow card on sixty six minutes, such outbursts could result in a more costly card as the year progresses.

Rating: 6

Keith Smyth. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Keith Smyth –

When it came to trying to break into an outstanding attack, Keith did his own cause no harm. He was first out to every ball hit in his direction with a sharp first touch and an ability to bring the ball down in his direction at one stage in the second half when the delivery was not ideal. Hit a bad wide in the second half but prior to this scored a nice point and popped up with two assists.

Rating: 7

Subs:

Seadna Morey –

In what was Seadna’s main involvement, he looked to be on his way towards getting a goal but a timely flick from Kilkenny averted the danger. His burst of pace makes him invaluable, this together with his power and decision making certainly strengthen his credentials to a be a first-choice midfielder.

Rating: 6

Rory Hayes chases after Eoin Cody. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Rory Hayes –

To say Rory has been waiting to cross paths with Eoin Cody again is likely to be an understatement. He got the chance when brought on early in the second half and was touch tight to the Kilkenny forward on every turn.

Rating: 6

Seán Rynne –

Would have reason to be disappointed with his omission from the starting fifteen but Seán has certainly put up his hand in his appearances to date. The chances that will fall his way next weekend and in the knockout stages must be grasped if he is to make his championship debut.

Rating: 6

Shane Meehan –

In his ten minutes on the field, Shane seemed anxious to get on the scoreboard, he had a poor wide during this spell but made up for it somewhat by forming part of the sequence for Clare’s second last score which was converted by Diarmuid Ryan.

Rating: 6

Ross Hayes:

Getting on the field is a big plus for Ross who will be pushing for a starting spot next weekend to showcase what he can do.

Not on long enough to be rated.

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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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