All-Ireland SHC: Defiant Clare finish with a flourish:

All-Ireland SHC Semi-Final

Clare 0-24 Kilkenny 2-16

By Cian O’Connell at Croke Park

For the first time in just over a decade, the Clare roar was really heard at Croke Park.

A stirring comeback mission, packed with grit and guile, sufficed to earn a much coveted place in the All-Ireland SHC Final.

Brian Lohan’s charges finished with a flourish at GAA headquarters, clipping six points in a row during a remarkable conclusion.

Having trailed 2-12 to 0-12 in the 47th minute, it was a gutsy response from the Banner, who had encountered significant bother initially.

Kilkenny were in the groove with Clare relying on Aidan McCarthy and David Reidy scores for hope and inspiration.

It was enough to keep Clare going. Kilkenny were effective at the start, accumulating a 0-6 to 0-3 advantage by the 14th minute.

Cian Kenny was influential in the opening quarter, while Paddy Deegan and David Blanchfield also landed sweet efforts from play.

McCarthy kept Clare in touch, but they were rocked in the 24th minute when Eoin Cody netted an outrageous goal.

Earlier on in the half Eibhear Quilligan had made a string of splendid saves, but the Clare net eventually danced following Cody’s intervention.

When Billy Ryan quickly added a point Kilkenny’s advantage was six and Clare were in deep distress.

Quilligan had to make another instinctive stop near the interval when a Cody sideline cut caused panic, but Clare survived the scare, departing 1-10 to 0-8 behind at the turnaround.

Clare thundered into the reckoning after the restart, hitting four of the first five points with McCarthy, Peter Duggan, Shane O’Donnell, and David Fitzgerald contributing in that burst.

TJ Reid’s excellent sideline cut steered Kilkenny 1-12 to 0-12 ahead and then the striped team blasted a second goal courtesy of Billy Ryan’s opportunism.

Under duress, Clare replied again. Tony Kelly and Aidan McCarthy fired over important points prior to a John Donnelly score for Kilkenny.

Clare, though, were beginning to believe, but were still 2-16 to 0-18 in arrears following a TJ Reid free in the 58th minute. Kilkenny didn’t register after that.

By now it was all about Clare’s passion and perseverance. Kelly, substitute Ian Galvin, and McCarthy landed points, reducing the deficit to the minimum. Mark Rodgers rifled over the leveller.

McCarthy edged Clare into the lead for the first time and Kelly added an injury time point to ensure Kilkenny had to go scrambling in search of a last gasp goal. A late Richie Reid free was floated into a packed Clare goalmouth, but Lohan’s defiant outfit, refused to be denied.

Scorers for Clare: Aidan McCarthy 0-11 (9fs), David Reidy and Tony Kelly 0-3 each, Mark Rodgers and David Fitzgerald 0-2 each, Shane O’Donnell, Ian Galvin, and Peter Duggan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-7 (4fs, 1 65, 1 sideline), Billy Ryan 1-2, Eoin Cody 1-0, John Donnelly and Cian Kenny 0-2 each, David Blanchfield, Mikey Carey, and Paddy Deegan 0-1 each.

Clare: Eibhear Quilligan; Adam Hogan, Conor Cleary, Conor Leen; Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, David McInerney; Tony Kelly, Cathal Malone; David Fitzgerald, Shane O’Donnell, Peter Duggan; Mark Rodgers, Aidan McCarthy, David Reidy.

Subs: Ian Galvin for O’Donnell (24-27, blood), Ryan Taylor for Malone (49), Ian Galvin for Fitzgerald (57), Aron Shanagher for Reidy (61), Darragh Lohan for Duggan (70+3).

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Tommy Walsh, Huw Lawlor, Mikey Butler; David Blanchfield, Richie Reid, Mikey Carey; Cian Kenny, Paddy Deegan; Adrian Mullen, TJ Reid, John Donnelly; Martin Keoghan, Billy Ryan, Eoin Cody.

Subs: Walter Walsh for Keoghan (58), Tom Phelan for Mullen (63), Conor Fogarty for Ryan (67).

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway).