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Ian Galvin (left) and Conor Cleary (right) celebrate Clare's Allianz Hurling League Division 1A win over Kilkenny in Nowlan Park

Ian Galvin (left) and Conor Cleary (right) celebrate Clare's Allianz Hurling League Division 1A win over Kilkenny in Nowlan Park

Allianz HL D1A: Clare survive late rally from Cats

Allianz Hurling League Division 1A

*Clare 2-18 Kilkenny 1-18 *

Kilkenny are still searching for their first points in the National Hurling League but Clare had to show all of their mettle to see off the Cats.

The Banner men were in charge for long spells of the game, but never found life too easy against their spirited hosts at Nowlan Park. It took an injury-time point from Niall Deasy to settle matters – and some late nagging Clare nerves – after some wayward shooting from the visitors looked like giving Kilkenny an avenue back into the game.

Clare were wasteful at times, shooting 12 second half wides as they spurned chances to more than make the game safe. It was different in the opening half, during which time Clare worked well to carve out an eight-point gap by the break (2-12 to 1-7). The opening exchanges were even enough, but when Shane O’Donnell gathered Tony Kelly’s high ball and scorched past his marker to rifle a seventh minute goal Clare were up and running.

Clare were flying after that. They were denied a second goal by a superb 16th minute save from Eoin Murphy, but got a rub of the green when a long David Reidy strike found its way to the net soon after. With Cathal Malone adding a point, they were 2-7 to 0-2  with 20 minutes on the clock. Kilkenny looked to be in trouble and made some changes to try and turn things around.

The Cats sprang three players from the bench in the first half – Enda Morrissey, Pat Lyng and Martin Keoghan were all introduced – and began to eat into the deficit. They hit a purple patch, stringing together 1-4 built on the back of Bill Sheehan’s goal, to get back into the game.

The gap was down to five points (2-8 to 1-6) but Clare finished the half well, points from David Reidy, Seadna Morey and David Fitzgerald pushing them eight ahead by the break (2-12 to 1-7).

Kilkenny went back on the attack in the new half, with early points from Martin Keoghan and Walter Walsh helping their cause. Clare, managed to stay out of reach for most of the half, but when Alan Murphy, Walter Walsh, Richie Leahy and goalkeeper Eoin Murphy (free) hit points in a good six-minute spell the gap was down to two (2-17 to 1-18) with time running out.

Clare looked nervous, but that Deasy score settled them down and helped the Munster men hold out for the final whistle.

*Scorers for Kilkenny: *Alan Murphy (0-10, 0-8 frees, 0-2 65s); Bill Sheehan (1-0); Walter Walsh, Martin Keoghan (0-2 each); Eoin Murphy (0-2, frees);  Richie Leahy, Pat Lyng (0-1 each).

*Scorers for Clare: *David Reidy (1-3); Peter Duggan (0-5, 0-3 frees); John Conlon (0-3); Shane O’Donnell (1-0); Cathal Malone (0-2); David Fitzgerald, Seadna Morey, Colm Galvin, Tony Kelly, Niall Deasy (0-1 each).

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Joey Holden, Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan; Cillian Buckley, Robert Lennon, Joe Lyng; James Maher, Ollie Walsh; John Donnelly, Richie Reid, Richie Leahy; Bill Sheehan, Walter Walsh, Alan Murphy. Subs: Enda Morrissey for J. Lyng; Pat Lyng for O. Walsh; Martin Keoghan for R. Reid; Conor O’Shea for Lennon; Liam Blanchfield for J. Donnelly.

Clare: Donal Tuohy; Jack Browne, Conor Cleary, Patrick O’Connor; David Fitzgerald, David McInerney, Seadna Morey; Colm Galvin, Tony Kelly; Cathal Malone, John Conlon, David Reidy; Shane O’Donnell, Peter Duggan, Podge Collins. Subs: Mikey O’Malley for D. Fitzgerald; Ian Galvin for P. Collins; Niall Deasy for C. Malone; Jason McCarthy for P. Duggan.

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath). 

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