All Ireland Under 21 Hurling Final – Clare 2-20 Wexford 3-11

Clare defeated Wexford by 2-20 to 3-11 in the Bord Gais Energy All Ireland Under 21 Hurling Championship Final on Saturday September 13th at Semple Stadium Thurles.

All-Ireland U21: Kelly inspires Clare to 3-in-a-row

ALL-IRELAND U21 HURLING FINAL: CLARE 2-20 WEXFORD 3-11

Report from GAA.ie

Clare made history on Saturday evening in Thurles as they completed a three-in-a-row in the All-Ireland U21 Hurling Championship, becoming only the fourth side in the history of the competition to do so. Cork, Tipperary and Limerick are the other counties to have achieved the feat, but this Clare side have marked themselves out as one of the greatest of all-time at underage level with another stirring final victory.

They were in control of the game more or less all the way through at Semple Stadium, but they were made to work hard for their win by a talented, hard-working and brave Wexford side, who despite hitting three second-half goals, couldn’t claw the back the five-point lead Clare had established by half-time.

Tony Kelly was magnificent for Clare, scoring 0-7 from play in a display which firmly underlined his well-established class, but Wexford goals in the second half from David Dunne (2) and Conor McDonald threatened the Clare coronation. Aaron Cunningham’s goal had put Clare 2-11 to 0-9 ahead early in the second half, but Wexford found the net twice in the last 10 minutes to set up a tense finale.

However, Clare flashed over a few superb points before the end to wrap up the win and complete their own individual slice of history – they are the first side from Clare to win three All-Irelands in a row at minor, U21 or senior level. Clare led 1-8 to 0-6 at half-time, with a five-point first-half haul from Kelly, in addition to a David Reidy goal, putting the champions in a dominant position.

The game took a while to get going, but after the sides traded the opening four scores – Kelly and Cunningham for Clare, Jack Guiney with two frees for Wexford – the contest swung dramatically in the 13th minute. Wexford, who hadn’t created much up to that point, suddenly broke through on goal through Kevin Foley. Foley burned in a direct line for Keith Hogan’s goal, and his powerful shot looked bound for the net, only for it to crash off the bar before Clare eventually cleared.

Within 30 seconds, Clare were breaking at the other end through Shane O’Donnell on the left wing. O’Donnell did brilliantly, leaving the Wexford defence in ribbons before hand-passing across to Reidy, whose finish past Oliver O’Leary to the net was low, neat and clinical. That left Clare 1-2 to 0-2 ahead, and while Wexford stayed with them for the next 10 minutes thanks to points from Guiney (frees) and Gary Moore, the remainder of the half was all about Kelly, who showed what a unique hurler he is.

The Ballyea prodigy fired four brilliant points from play in a luminous eight minute spell to leave Clare deservedly five clear at the interval.
Wexford started the half well with points from McDonald and Guiney, but Clare responded with scores from Colm Galvin and Bobby Duggan to go four clear again before they broke through for their second goal on 38 minutes.

It was a superb goal, well worked and brilliantly executed. Jamie Shanahan and Bobby Duggan combined well before Cunningham controlled the ball on his stick and finished to the net in two deft movements. When that score was followed by a booming Colm Galvin point, Clare led by eight points and were crusing to victory, but Wexford won a penalty moments later, after Rhys Clarke was fouled by Jarlath Colleran.

Guiney’s penalty was saved and deflected out for a ’65’ which he scored, but Wexford had the ball in the net moments later anyway, substitute Dunne rifling the ball to the net to give Wexford hope as the game ticked towards the final quarter. Three Duggan points in quick succession and a gem from Kelly stemmed the Wexford fight back and sent Clare eight clear again but then a second Dunne goal, a fine finish with eight minutes to go, gave Wexford half a chance.

When McDonald slammed a shot past Hogan and into the roof of the net two minutes later, a previously improbably Wexford comeback suddenly looked like a possibility, but Clare showed what a great side they are in the closing stages. Showing no signs of panic whasoever, they closed out the win ruthlessly. Colm Galvin, an All Star and an All-Ireland senior winner, fired over two brilliant points, while Kelly clipped over his seventh from play in a fitting finale to the game. It was hard on Wexford – they have a team they can be proud of and they battled hard – but history will always remember this Clare team, and tonight they showed exactly why.

***
Scorers for Clare: T Kelly 0-7, A Cunningham 1-2, D Reidy 1-1, C Galvin 0-4, B Duggan 0-4 (2f), J Shanahan 0-1, G O’Connell 0-1

Scorers for Wexford: J Guiney 0-7 (6f, 1 ’65’), D Dunne 2-0, C McDonald 1-1 G Moore 0-2, C Devitt 0-1

CLARE: Keith Hogan; Jarlath Colleran, Jack Browne, Séadna Morey; Gearóid O’Connell, Conor Cleary, Jamie Shanahan; Colm Galvin, Eoin Enright; Bobby Duggan, Tony Kelly, Peter Duggan; Shane O’Donnell, Aaron Cunningham, David Reidy
Subs: Cathal O’Connell for G O’Connell (49), Alan O’Neill for S O’Donnell (55).

WEXFORD: Oliver O’Leary; Andrew Kenny, Liam Ryan, Eoin Conroy; Jim White, Shane O’Gorman, Jack O’Connor; Aidan Nolan, Conor Devitt; Jack Guiney, Gary Moore, Pádraig Foley; Rhys Clarke, Conor McDonald, Kevin Foley
Subs: James Cash for G Moore (Blood Sub, 20-21), David Dunne for Jack O’Connor (35), James Cash for Jim White (42), Peter Sutton for J Cash (59).

Attendance: 15,081

Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork)

***

Report: Arthur Sullivan



Fixture Details

13.09.2014 (Sat)
Bord Gais Energy GAA Hurling All Ireland U21 Championship Final
Semple Stadium Thurles 19:00
An Clár v Loch Garman
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Corcaigh)
(E.T. if Necessary)


Team News

WEXFORD (U21 v Clare): Oliver O’Leary; Andrew Kenny, Liam Ryan, Eoin Conroy; Jim White, Shane O’Gorman, Jack O’Connor; Aidan Nolan, Conor Devitt; Jack Guiney, Gary Moore, Pádraig Foley; Rhys Clarke, Conor McDonald, Kevin Foley