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AHL Rd 5

posted 22 Mar 2015, 16:30 by John O'Sullivan   [ updated 23 Mar 2015, 10:41 by Denis Tuohy Agricultural Consultant ]

Kilkenny 2-20    Clare 2-19

     Conditions were as solid as one could expect for March in Nowlan park for this round 5 tie and indeed all involved with both sides were very relaxed before the throw in. The opening chance for a score fell to John Conlon whose great effort was inches wide. Signs that spectators were in for a high scoring affair was apparent as seven points had been shared 4-3 in favour of Clare after six minutes action. Conor McGrath and Colm Galvin, who according to reports is US bound for the summer had the first two scores before Mark Kelly opened the Kilkenny account. Jack Browne entered the referee's notepad as Kevin Kelly pointed the free. Matt Ruth sent Kilkenny into a short lived lead before Clare through Colin Ryan and Tony Kelly restored the visitors scoreboard advantage.  The first goal came from a fast attack down the left wing to McGrath who cut in along the sideline and flicked it across the square to Shane O Donnell who doubled to the net. The two Kelly's, Tony and Kevin exchanged scores in the intervening minute as Kilkenny even though deficient on the scoreline were winning the aerial battles with the Clare defenders. John Conlon was an efficient target man for Clare and worked hard winning frees and holding up the ball when in the Kilkenny end of the park. JonJo Farrell and Kevin Kelly who an impressive showing from frees reduced the Clare lead to three points before Eoin Murphy pulled off a great reflex save from John Conlon. Seadna Morey and kevin Kelly (2) swopped scores by the 27th minutes as now only the minimum divided the sides as Kilkenny were now a real threat in front of the Clare goal. JonJo Farrell won a penalty taken by John Power that was saved by Tony Kelly as the expense of a 65. Kevin Kelly sent over the 65' before Shane O Donnell beat Paul Murphy in the air and his half hit effort dribbled over the line for his and Clare's second goal which was a real lifeline and lifted the Kilkenny siege. The last score of the half fell to the busy Matt Ruth to leave the All Ireland champions (2-9)to (1-9) in arrears but happy nonetheless to have held out well and showing promise with new boys.

That promise appeared well delivered when five minutes into the new half the sides were on level terms following scores of some quality from Kevin Kelly, Walter Walsh and Mark Kelly. Gradually the Kilkenny backs were in control of their sector doubling up on O Donnell and tackling hard on the Clare forwards who had way less freedom than in the first half. Conor Ryan and Aaron Cunningham were struggling in their positions yet Clare were not conceding heavily on the scoreboard.  Colm Galvin, Walter Walsh with his second and Colin Ryan were on the mark as Clare led (2-11) to (1-13. Kelly responded with a free before further scores from Ryan, Kelly who was now untouchable and McGrath  gave Clare a (2-14) to (1-14) lead as they appeared to have weathered the Kilkenny onslaught. How wrong was that for Kilkenny dont like surrendering anywhere especially in home territory. Kevin Kelly once more pointed a 65 before Jon Jo Farrell sent them ahead with the game entering the final quarter. Once again it appeared that Clare were in the ascendancy when scores from Tony Kelly, Colin Ryan and John Conlon left the visitors two clear with twelve minutes to play.

The action was end to end as both sides threw off the shackles as word was breaking through that Dublin had a strong foothold in the Galway game ending any real chance of Clare avoiding the relegation battle looming. This was of course unknown to the Clare men on the field who began to struggle in the last ten minutes when the final salvo of  Kilkenny pressure came to bear on Clare. Kevin Kelly, Jonjo Farrell and Joe Lyng were on target either side of Colin Ryan's goal effort that was saved by Eoin Murphy only for Shane O Donnell to send the rebound wide.

The home side were now a point clear with seven minutes left of action. Ger Alyward who had been introduced was on hand with a smart effort before Colm Galvin who retired injured alongwith McGrath was on the scoresheet. The final score from Kilkenny came from Mark Kelly who alongwith Kevin Kelly and Farrell had an impressive performance as the Kilkenny full forward line. Clare pushed on requiring two points to draw. One came from Conor Cleary whilst the last action of the game as a penalty award to Clare that was hit well by Tony Kelly but Clare's best player was denied a match winning goal.

Many say that Kilkenny had a "B team" in action however it is too simplistic to say that. Many who played on Sunday will feature come championship. Their best included their full forward line alongwith Eoin Murphy in goal, Shane Prendergast, Joe Lyng, John Power, Tomas Keogh and Willie Phelan. Clare had good efforts from John Conlon, Tony Kelly who worked as well as ever, Shane O Donnell, Jack Browne in the second half, Domhnall O Donovan when introduced, Seadna Morey, Colm Galvin and Conor McGrath who looked somewhat subdued.

CLARE: Patrick Kelly, Paul Flanagan,, David McInerney, Jack Browne, Cian Dillon, Conor Ryan, Pat Donnellan, Colm Galvin(0-2), Seadna Morey (0-2), John Conlon (0-1), Tony Kelly (0-4), Conor McGrath (0-2), Aaron Cunningham, Shane O Donnell (2-0), Colin Ryan (0-7). Subs: David Reidy for Cunningham, Domhnall O Donovan for Flanagan, Darch Honan for McGrath, Conor Cleary (0-1) for Galvin,

KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy, Shane Prendergast, Paul Murphy, Jackie Tyrell, Tomas Keogh, Kieran Joyce, William Phelan, Joe Lyng (0-1), Brian Kennedy, Walter Walsh (0-2), John Power, Matt Ruth(0-2), Jonjo Farrell(1-2), Kevin Kelly(1-9), Mark Kelly(0-3). Subs: Ger Alyward (0-1) for Brian Kennedy, Robert Lennon for Tyrrell.

REFEREE: James Owens (Wexford)