*Ryan Taylor is kept under pressure by Conor Fogarty. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Speaking after Sunday’s All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final win over Clare, Kilkenny manager Derek Lyng said “we just did enough to get over the line. It was very edgy towards the end”.

Commenting on Eoin Murphy’s late magnificent save he said, “I just saw a reaction, he is a top class keeper and it was a fantastic save”.

The All-Ireland winning midfielder who is in his first season as team manager said, “In the first half I think we were pretty much in control, I was happy at half time. Clare came out in the second half, set up a little differently and asked more questions of us. I am just really happy with the way we responded because it looked like momentum had swung towards Clare”.

“Our lads settled back down, some of our key players came on and we got our shape back. We had lost our shape for a while in the second half. Our work rate all through was outstanding and that was maybe the difference in the end,” he added.

Kilkenny kept their composure in the third quarter when Clare were firing which included a rally of 0-05 in succession. “We were playing a top class team and we knew we would get those type of challenges and that we might concede a goal or two and it was about how we reacted and that was very pleasing. We didn’t panic, we still managed to work the ball out fairly well, our work rate didn’t drop. That was the most important thing. Obviously Eoin (Murphy) was outstanding, the workrate through the team was outstanding and the lads that came on made a huge contribution as well”.

Workrate across the team was significant, the former midfielder noted. “T.J.(Reid) and the boys are doing it a long time, they have been fantastic players over the years for Kilkenny and they are still doing it, they are leading by example and it says a lot about them”.

Freshness from the bench aided their cause, Lyng said. “The substitutes all made a positive impact” he went on, “they gave Eoin a few more options. All the lads that came on have been showing form. We found it hard to pick the fifteen. You need that impact from the players when they came in”.

On the thinking behind Mikey Butler man-marking Tony Kelly again, Derek explained, “It wasn’t just about Mikey on Tony Kelly, it was the collective, you look at all options. Clare have excellent forwards outside of Tony Kelly. Our defence and midfield managed them fairly well, we are really happy with them”.

Clare’s use of a sweeper was a surprise, he admitted. “A little surprised but we coped fairly well with the change. We were in a fairly strong position at half time. They posed more questions in the second half but we saw it through and just managed it out. We were very close in the first half to getting a couple of goals, we were a threat the whole way through”.

A repeat of last year’s final awaits Kilkenny who will now try to halt Limerick’s tilt for further honours. “There is not a huge amount we can do now, it will be about getting the bodies right. They are a fantastic team, they are going for the four in a row, they have been the form team for many years now, that’s the challenge that is ahead of us. We look forward to it. We are in the final now but we are not just happy with that, we want to go and perform now”.

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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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