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Electric Ireland MHC Final: Impressive Clare secure silverware

Jack Mescal, Clare, and Jason Rabbitte, Galway, in action during the Electric Ireland Minor Hurling Championship Final at FBD Semple Stadium. Photo by Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

Jack Mescal, Clare, and Jason Rabbitte, Galway, in action during the Electric Ireland Minor Hurling Championship Final at FBD Semple Stadium. Photo by Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

Electric Ireland Minor Hurling Championship Final

Clare 2-22 Galway 4-11

By Stephen Barry at FBD Semple Stadium

Clare produced a monumental performance on the big day to claim their second All-Ireland minor hurling title. They conceded a pair of goals early and late but in between, they were unstoppable.

Their defence led by Eoghan Gunning, James Hegarty, and Jamie Moylan limited a Galway attack that had outscored their opponents by 100 points across six games.

At the other end, they took a Galway defence that had never allowed more than 0-14 in any match for 2-22, with the goals arriving at the start of the second half from Ógie Fanning and Hegarty. By the end, they had 12 scorers, including four subs.

They celebrated their first title at this grade since the double of 1997 with Gunning raising the Irish Press Cup in Semple Stadium’s New Stand.

Galway had two goals inside 13 minutes but their shooting was otherwise pock-marked by wides (six in that same period).

An Aaron Niland free from inside his own 45 proved more dangerous when dropping short. The towering Jason Rabbitte snatched it out of the air and flicked into the empty net.

Then, Conor Gilligan was first onto a breaking ball and sent Cullen Killeen into space. He shook off a foul and used the advantage to roof the sliotar past the covering defender and keeper.

But each time Clare came back to level and then lead. They had four of the next five points after Rabbitte’s goal, with an early brace for Michael Collins.

Once Killeen netted, they enjoyed the best spell, scorching over five of the next seven points, with two each from Seán Arthur and free-taker Marc O’Brien as well as a sensational Fanning effort.

When Rabbitte raised a 27th-minute white flag, it was Galway’s only point from play all half.

A Niland bouncer tested Mark Sheedy’s reflexes, but Clare finished the half ahead, 0-12 to 2-5. Their defence started in the full-forward line and was summarised when they intercepted back-to-back short puck-outs, although both were shot wide, before forcing the goalie to overcarry for a tap-over free.

Clare lost full-back Ronan Keane to an apparent hamstring injury while Galway centre-back Donnacha Campbell was also removed at the break.

Galway’s skillful short-passing game was being tested like never before and it came under greater stress when Clare added two goals within seven minutes.

O’Brien’s run created the first. He lobbed the ball straight off his hurley into Fanning’s path and the corner-forward artfully delayed his shot before tapping in.

Then, a Hegarty free from his own 65 got lost in the high afternoon sun and was dropped over the line.

When Hegarty added another free from distance, their lead was six; 2-13 to 2-7.

Clare kept on rolling with superb points from Fred Hegarty, Jack Mescal, and Collins while their defence was standing tall; Sheedy blocked a close-in Niland free and Matthew O’Halloran denied Brian Callanan from the rebound.

Niland had been well marshalled by Gunning and James Hegarty but escaped for three points in a row, the latter pair from play.

Gunning intervened again to block Conor Gilligan and found his feet again to follow up with two more defensive dispossessions.

There was still time for substitutes to have their say at either end.

Harry Holmes sent a screamer to the top corner after steering his way around two Clare defenders to bring the gap back to four, 2-18 to 3-11.

But Harry Doherty and Eoin Carey landed points from either wing before Niland picked out Killeen for a final consolation goal.

Scorers for Clare: Marc O’Brien 0-7 (5fs), James Hegarty 1-2 (1-2fs), Ógie Fanning 1-1, Michael Collins 0-3, Seán Arthur 0-2, Jack Mescal, Evan Price, Eoin Begley, Michael Power, Fred Hegarty, Eoin Carey, Harry Doherty 0-1 each.

Scorers for Galway: Aaron Niland 0-8 (6fs), Cullen Killeen 2-0, Jason Rabbitte 1-1, Harry Holmes 1-0, Michael Burke, Michael Fallon 0-1 each.

Clare: Mark Sheedy; Eoghan Gunning, Ronan Keane, Conor Rynne; Matthew O’Halloran, James Hegarty, Jamie Moylan; Jack Mescal, Evan Price; Ronan Kilroy, Michael Collins, Seán Arthur; Ógie Fanning, Marc O’Brien, Eoin Begley.

Subs: Fred Hegarty for Keane (HT inj), Michael Power for Begley (39), Eoin Carey for Gunning (48-50, blood), Harry Doherty for Fanning (51), Carey for Mescal (53), Emmet Mulcahy for Kilroy (60+3).

Galway: Shane Murray; Thomas Blake, Seán Murphy, Gearóid King; Dylan Quirke, Donnacha Campbell, Ed O’Reilly; Michael Burke, Cullen Killeen; Darragh Counihan, Colm Burke, Conor Gilligan; Brian Callanan, Jason Rabbitte, Aaron Niland.

Subs: Michael Fallon for Campbell (HT), Stephen Keane for O’Reilly (40), Harry Holmes for C Burke (40), Eoghan Mulleady for Callanan (58).

Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary).