Allianz HL D1: Kelly points Clare to victory over Dublin
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B
CLARE 0-34 DUBLIN 2-23
By Paul Keane at Parnell Park, Dublin
Tony Kelly fired a remarkable 20 points on his return to the Clare team, inspiring the Banner to a big win over Dublin at Parnell Park.
Losses to Antrim and Wexford, allied to the Covid-19 episode that sidelined two players temporarily, left Brian Lohan's crew up against it initially in Division 1B but they've responded strongly with big wins over Laois and Dublin.
All-Star Kelly missed the win over Laois with a dead leg but returned to play a key role, putting on an exhibition of free-taking and racking up 0-20 overall.
All but four of his points came from open play while Dublin's Donal Burke helped himself to 0-13 with nine of his points coming from frees also.
Clare trailed by two points at half-time but were excellent after the break with Aidan McCarthy scoring 0-4 and sub David Fitzgerald picking off 0-2 after his introduction.
Back to back wins leaves Clare safe from relegation ahead of their final round tie against Kilkenny in Ennis next Saturday afternoon.
The only downside for them was the lack of goals though it hardly mattered as they picked off a range of points from distance, outscoring Dublin by 0-19 to 0-12 in the second-half.
Kelly was a late addition to the published lineup with the 2020 Hurler of the Year nominee failing to feature against Laois in Round 3 due to a dead leg.
Colm Galvin, who missed last year's Championship with a groin injury, was also drafted in for his first start of the year.
At the back, former Clare footballer Aaron Fitzgerald retained his starting slot while John Conlon captained the Banner from the half-back line.
In the Dublin ranks, Cuala's Mark Schutte made his first start of the season and sniped a 26th minute point.
The sides were level five times in an exciting opening half that ebbed and flowed in near perfect conditions.
Dublin were 0-5 to 0-2 up initially but Clare fought back to level terms at the first water break, 0-6 apiece.
Clare were dominant for a period and opened up a five-point lead with scores from Aron Shanagher, Kelly, Shane O'Donnell and Aidan McCarthy.
But Dublin finished the half strongly and goals from Ronan Hayes and Cian Boland in a four-minute spell approaching the interval nudged them back ahead.
Hayes did well for his goal, latching onto a Cian Boland delivery, spinning away from Fitzgerald and racing clear before shooting to the net.
Boland then netted himself, a victory for perseverance as the move looked to have broken down when Eamonn Dillon was cleverly hooked by Fitzgerald.
Dublin led 2-11 to 0-15 at half-time but it remained anyone's game and they were level again in the 40th minute, Kelly and McCarthy pointing for Clare.
Clare largely dominated from there on and consistently punished errant Dublin play with Kelly terrific on the frees, shooting just one wide from a placed ball all afternoon.
David Fitzgerald's introduction after the second water break lent further punch to Clare and he reeled off two points while sub David Reidy also got on the scoresheet.
Clare scorers: Tony Kelly 0-20 (0-15f, 1 65), Aidan McCarthy 0-4, Shane O'Donnell 0-2, David Fitzgerald 0-2, Mark Rodgers 0-2, Cathal Malone 0-1, Diarmuid Ryan 0-1, Aron Shanagher 0-1, David Reidy 0-1.
Dublin scorers: Donal Burke 0-13 (0-9f), Ronan Hayes 1-2, Cian Boland 1-1, Danny Sutcliffe 0-2, Chris Crummey 0-2, Mark Schutte 0-1, Daire Gray 0-1, Eamonn Dillon 0-1.
CLARE: Eibhear Quilligan; Rory Hayes, Conor Cleary, Aaron Fitzgerald; Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, Paidi Fitzpatrick; Cathal Malone, Colm Galvin; Aidan McCarthy, Tony Kelly, Shane O'Donnell; Aron Shanagher, Mark Rodgers, Ian Galvin. Subs: David Reidy for Galvin (48), David Fitzgerald for Fitzpatrick (54), Stiofan McMahon for Rodgers (63), Jason McCarthy for Colm Galvin (67),
DUBLIN: Alan Nolan; Eoghan O'Donnell, Cian O'Callaghan, Andrew Dunphy; Paddy Smyth, Conor Burke, Daire Gray; James Madden, Chris Crummey; Danny Sutcliffe, Ronan Hayes, Mark Schutte; Donal Burke, Eamonn Dillon, Cian Boland. Subs: Rian McBride for Smyth (50), John Hetherton for Schutte (54), David Keogh for Boland (61), Paul Crummey for Dillon and Fergal Whitely for Sutcliffe (70).
Referee: Colum Cunning (Antrim).