Shamrocks contingent ‘electric’ as Murphy makes wonder save to deny Duggan
BY NIALL SHERRY, SPORTS EDITOR
SHERRY SAYS MATCH REVIEW…
All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
Semi-Final, Croke Park
Kilkenny are through to another All-Ireland senior hurling final after seeing-off a dogged challenge from Clare at headquarters last Sunday. Having built up a 5-point interval lead, Kilkenny allowed a rejuvenated Banner side back into the game after the short whistle and Brian Lohan’s charges led for the first time on 52 minutes when David Reidy pointed. In true Kilkenny fashion, Derek Lyng’s men stood tall and raised a green flag shortly afterwards and were never behind for the remainder of a pulsating contest and ran-out winners by 3 points.
That introduction barely does justice to the semi-final battle. We witnessed TJ Reid once again surpassing Cork’s Patrick Horgan to become the leading scorer in championship history. Eoin Murphy produced one of the most outstanding saves in the history of hurling when he defied all logic to deny Clare’s Peter Duggan a certain goal which would have levelled matters deep into injury time. And just for good measure Eoin Cody was sensational, notching 1-5 in an eye-catching display of skill, leadership and non-stop work rate. Mikey Butler got even closer to Tony Kelly, if that was possible.
The Noresiders lined out as selected while Clare surprisingly made one change, with Sixmilebridge’s Seadna Morey starting in place of Ian Galvin. This change saw Brian Lohan’s side deploy an extra defender, but you wouldn’t have known that during a riveting 35-odd minutes of first thalf action.
When Cork whistler Colm Lyons got matters underway, it would be Kilkenny that got the scoreboard moving. Captain Eoin Cody was fouled by Rory Hayes and his Shamrocks clubmate TJ Reid popped over the resulting free for the first score of the day. Clooney-Quin’s Ryan Taylor got The Banner’s opening score with a fine effort less than a minute later. Conahy’s Tom Phelan then produced some good work before passing to his captain who sent over a lovely score from out on the right. The Clooney-Quin brigade were at it again seconds later, this time Peter Duggan splitting the posts with a nice score.
Eoin Cody was looking lively and drew another free which TJ dispatched before David McInerney burst forward to take a classy point. Tom Phelan then pointed after a lovely pass from O’Loughlin’s Paddy Deegan before Shane O’Donnell hit a magnificent sole effort to deadlock matters with 10 minutes played. The Cats hit the next two scores; a long range free from TJ and a tidy effort from Adrian Mullen, after the former captain had won a great turnover in midfield.
Scariffs Mark Rodgers got his first point of the day with a lovely placed ball from distance to settle his nerves, having missed an earlier opportunity before a cracking pass from Bennettsbridge’s David Blanchfield was fetched and pointed by Billy Ryan with the Graigue-Ballycallan man’s first involvement in the game. Then came one of the scores of the game. Huw Lawlor came bursting out of defence and despite an attempted high tackle by Cathal Malone, the O’Loughlin’s man somehow steadied himself to split the posts from near-on halfway.
The men in black and amber then almost raised a green flag when TJ’s goal-bound shot was somehow deflected behind for a ‘65 by Clare netminder Eibhear Quilligan, brilliant reactions from the Feakle clubman. Kilkenny didn’t leave empty-handed, as TJ slotted over the resulting ‘65. The Cats now led by four. The Banner needed a score, and it came from their main man Tony Kelly. The Ballyea man pointing after a lovely flick pass from the dangerous Shane O’Donnell.
The next two scores were both booming efforts from distance, first up was TJ with a free from his own’65 but the Clare response was a lovely strike from half-way by midfielder David Fitzgerald. Tom Phelan was then halted illegally on the ‘21 and this free saw TJ edge ahead of Cork’s Patrick Horgan in the championship scoring stakes. Simply the best, TJ.
Clare then created a fantastic goal scoring chance. A lovely free-flowing team move up the pitch saw Shane O’Donnell throw a pass to Mark Rodgers whose batted effort was somehow blocked by the hurl of the stretching Conor Fogarty, who had burst a gut to get in that position. Take a bow Mr. Fogarty. Referee Lyons had been playing an advantage, so the free was then popped over by the denied Mark Rodgers. TJ then struck over another placed ball after the marauding Mikey Butler was upended by Ryan Taylor, who received a yellow card for his efforts.
Eoin Cody then collected the ball before turning inside his man and firing over a stunning effort that was awarded with the aid of Hawkeye. The Cats had pushed their lead out to five points with 26 minutes gone. Cathal Malone then split the posts with another effort from almost halfway before Kilkenny registered their first wide of the game via Mossy Keoghan’s shot on 29 minutes. After a little bit of pinball TJ won the ball, despite being surrounded by at least 3 Clare players and was fouled in the process. The Shamrocks man made no mistake and restored his teams 5-point lead.
The Banner were forced to make a change when Ryan Taylor was unable to run-off a belt across the legs, and this injury saw David Reidy enter the fray with a couple of minutes remaining in the opening period. The next passage of play saw Clare on the attack, but somehow TJ Reid found himself inside his own 13 metre line gaining possession and drawing the free. That Avonmore milk must be super stuff as TJ marked his 142nd appearance in the black and amber of his beloved county.
Two more scores followed before the short whistle sounded, another lovely effort from Eoin Cody and a free from Mark Rodgers after Shane O’Donnell was fouled. Half-time, the Cats up by five, Kilkenny 0-15, Clare 0-10.
Derek Lyng’s men were out early for the second half, or perhaps Brian Lohan’s Clare side were late? When The Banner did reappear, Ian Galvin had replaced his replacement, Seadna Morey. An extra attacker on the pitch for the beaten Munster finalists, and this proved very rewarding when play resumed.
A fast start from Clare was Mark Rodgers split the posts from play in the opening seconds of the second period. Rodgers then set up David Fitzgerald for his second point of the day, this time from the right sideline. Eire Og Inis’s Shane O’Donnell then exploded toward the Kilkenny goal. Having taken a fair few steps, his low shot was superbly saved by Glemore’s Eoin Murphy, who deflected the shot behind for a ‘65 which Mark Rodgers pointed. The gap was now back to two points. Clare were hurling like Clare should, on the front foot.
Eoin Cody then picked up the ball and cut-in along the endline. As the captain struck his shot towards goal, keeper Quilligan batted the effort away, but referee Colm Lyons pulled play back as he had spotted Adam Hogan’s swipe across the legs of the Cats captain. Could or should the card have been black? TJ did what TJ does, and the lead was now three. Clonlara’s Ian Galvin and Shamrocks Adrian Mullen exchanged scores, both classy points. Walter Walsh then joined the party as Mossy Keoghan departed. Clare then rattled off five scores on bounce as they turned the game on its head. Mark Rodgers struck four of those scores, the other coming from sub David Reidy as Brian Lohan’s men took the lead for the first time. The Banner had outscored Kilkenny by 9 points to 2 in the second half. Worrying times for Derek Lyng as the momentum was with the opposition.
The Kilkenny manager then sent on Cian Kenny in place of John Donnelly and this change proved highly effective. The Village player expertly picked out Paddy Deegan who sent over a lovely score to leave just the bare minimum between the sides after 54 minutes of topsy turvy action.
Then came the score which ultimately swung things back in favour of the Noresiders. From a restart, Clare went short. Keeper Quilligan passed to Rory Hayes, who returned the sliotar to the Feakle man. The Clare netminder took a few steps before passing ahead to Hayes. The Wolfe Tones man didn’t see Billy Ryan chasing him down from behind and the Cats player flicked the ball away from Hayes into the path of TJ Reid. TJ sprinted into the ‘D’ before sending the most perfect hand-pass to his captain and clubmate Eoin Cody who rifled a fierce shot beyond Quilligan. Kilkenny now led by two. The sort of score that knocks the wind out of the opposition.
Leinster final goal scoring hero Cillian Buckley then replaced the tiring Conor Fogarty, who along with that stunning block, had gotten through a mountain of work. Clare hit back with another score from the impressive David Fitzgerald. Danesfort’s Richie Hogan then joined the action as Tom Phelan was withdrawn. The only thing TJ hadn’t tried was a sideline cut – and the veteran sent over a sumptuous one with some nine minutes of normal time remaining. Tj then turned provider, as his pass to Cian Kenny resulted in the James Stephens man striking over a sweet score.
Lohan’s men needed another spark, and it came from Shane O’Donnell. Diarmuid Ryan’s long delivery was diverted into the path of O’Donnell who turned his marked and headed for goal. The No.14 outmuscled Tommy Walsh before rifling an unstoppable shot beyond the diving Eoin Murphy into the roof of the Cats net. 63 minutes gone, the sides level 1-20 apiece. What now?
Walter Walsh then drew a foul which saw David McInerney receive a yellow card. TJ slotted over the free to nudge his team ahead. TJ repeated this process a couple of minutes later after Richie Hogan was elbowed to the ground by Mr. McInerney who remained on the pitch. Tullaroan’s Padraig Walsh then replaced Billy Ryan before the irrepressible Eoin Cody fired over a classy point following another accurate delivery from Paddy Deegan, whose distribution across the game was top level.
Three minutes of additional time were signaled. Three too many for Kilkenny supporters, nowhere near enough for Clare players or supporters. Mark Rodgers then sent over his 3rd ‘65 of the day after Peter Duggan’s effort was deflected behind. Eoin Cody then notched his fifth point of the day after brilliant work from Mikey Butler and the hugely influential Adrian Mullen.
A goal was required by The Banner to force extra time. A little bit of a ruck was developing around the Kilkenny penalty spot. Somehow David Fitzgerald emerged with the ball and burst forward. The midfielder gave a hand pass to his right where Peter Duggan was waiting. The Clooney-Quin forward instinctively volleyed the pass towards the goal. Somehow, defying the laws of physics, goalkeeping and every other area of logic, Eoin Murphy managed to deflect the goal bound effort onto the crossbar. I think in the madness of it all, Padraig Walsh swung his Hurl at the ball, and it landed at the edge of the ‘D’. David McInerney decided to split the posts and take the point.
There was still enough time for Adrian Mullen to win possession and play a short pass to Padraig Walsh who rifled over from close to the sideline near the Clare ‘65. That was to be the last score of a rip-roaring, heart-stopping game. The Cats had set up a repeat of last season’s decider with the Limerick machine, but that’s a matter for another day.
Full-time score at Croke Park, Kilkenny 1-25, Clare 1-22.
Scorers for Kilkenny: T.J. Reid (0-12, 10 frees, 1 65, 1 sideline); E. Cody (1-5); A. Mullen (0-2); T. Phelan, B. Ryan, H. Lawlor, P. Deegan, C. Kenny, P. Walsh (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clare: M. Rodgers (0-10, 5 frees, 3 65s); S. O’Donnell (1-1); D. Fitzgerald (0-3); R. Taylor, P. Duggan, D. McInerney, T. Kelly, C. Malone, I. Galvin, D. Reidy, D. Ryan (0-1 each).
KILKENNY: E. Murphy; H. Lawlor, D. Blanchfield; R. Reid; T. Walsh, M. Butler, P. Deegan; C. Fogarty, A. Mullen; M. Keoghan, J. Donnelly, T. Phelan; E. Cody (c), T.J. Reid, B. Ryan.
Subs: W. Walsh for M. Keoghan (44); C. Kenny for J. Donnelly (55); R. Hogan for T. Phelan (61); P. Walsh for B. Ryan (68).
CLARE: E. Quilligan; A. Hogan, C. Cleary, R. Hayes; S. Morey; D. Ryan, J. Conlon, D. McInerney; C. Malone, R. Taylor; D. Fitzgerald, T. Kelly (c), M. Rodgers; P. Duggan, S. O’Donnell.
Subs for Clare: D. Reidy for R. Taylor (inj 33); I. Galvin for S. Morey (h-t); A. Shanagher for D. Reidy.
Referee: C. Lyons (Cork).