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Clare senior manager Davy Fitzgerald in the stand before the All-Ireland U-21 hurling final at Thurles. Photograph by John Kelly

U-21s show Antrim no mercy

Clare 2-28 Antrim 0-12

UNPRECEDENTED times for Clare hurling. A second successive All-Ireland under-21 title, and a third in five years, has given Clare fans reason for celebration but for the majority of the players the celebrations will be put ice for another few weeks.

On Sunday, its back to training for 14 of the squad, as they turn their thought to Saturday week’s senior final replay against Cork.
Clare dictated matters from beginning to end at Thurles, as Antrim were routed. It was a total mismatch. To their credit, however, the Ulster champions never gave up.

Clare senior manager Davy Fitzgerald in the stand before the  All-Ireland U-21 hurling final at Thurles. Photograph by John Kelly
Clare senior manager Davy Fitzgerald in the stand before the All-Ireland U-21 hurling final at Thurles. Photograph by John Kelly

Apart from the opening five minutes, when the sides when players were settling in, Clare had their third All-Ireland under-21 title wrapped up midway through the opening half when they had a six point lead. Antrim were clearly struggling to keep with them.
Seven minutes from half time, the opening goal came from corner forward Davy O’Halloran and four minutes later his Éire Óg club-mate Shane O’Donnell brought Clare’s tally to 2-16. Seven players had shared in the champions’ tally at this stage and while Paudge Collins hadn’t got his name on the score sheet, he had created many of the scores and was causing serious problems for the Ulster champions.

Paul Kinnerk talks tobthe Clare team before the  All-Ireland U-21 hurling final at Thurles. Photograph by John Kelly
Paul Kinnerk talks to the Clare team before the All-Ireland U-21 hurling final at Thurles. Photograph by John Kelly

Two points inside the second half stretched Clare’s lead and let the Northern outfit know that the title holders had no intention of easing up.
With the title secure, Clare were able to rest the senior players and three minutes into this half Jarlath Colleran and Kevin Lynch replaced Tony Kelly and David McInerney. Three minutes later, Colm Galvin and Paudge Collins were replaced by Enda Boyce and Niall Arthur. Aaron Cunningham, who suffered a hamstring injury in the semi-final win over Galway, introduced for the final 11 minutes and came through without further injury which should see him back in contention for a place in theAll-Ireland final replay panel.
Scorers: Clare: Cathal O’Connell (0-11), 10 frees; Davy O’Halloran (1-4), Colm Galvin, Tony Kelly (0-3) each; Shane O’Donnell (1-0) Cathal Malone, Seadna Morey (0-2) each, Alan O’Neill ( free ) Enda Boyce, Jarlath Colleran (0-1) each
Antrim: Ciaran Clarke (0-7) 5 frees, 1 line ball; Chris McGuinness, Jackson McGreevey, Stephen McAfee, Conor McGann Michael Bradley (0-1) each
Clare: Ronan Taaffe (Tubber); Paul Flanagan (Ballyea), captain; David

Clare joint manager Dinal Moloney with fellow joint manager Gerry OConnor behind during the  All-Ireland U-21 hurling final at Thurles. Photograph by John Kelly.
Clare joint manager Dinal Moloney with fellow joint manager Gerry OConnor behind during the All-Ireland U-21 hurling final at Thurles. Photograph by John Kelly.

McInerney (Tulla), Jack Browne (Ballyea); Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge),
Alan O’Neill (St. Joseph’s), Stephen O’Halloran (Clarecastle); Colm Galvin (Clonlara), Tony Kelly (Ballyea); Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin), Paudge Collins (Cratloe), Cathal Malone (Ennistymon); Cathal, O’Connell (Clonlara), Shane O’Donnell (Eire Óg), Davy O’Halloran (Eire Óg).
Subs: Jarlath Colleran (St Joseph’s) for Kelly (33 minutes); Kevin Lynch (Sixmilebridge) for McInerney (33 minutes); Enda Boyce (Cratloe) for Galvin (36 minutes); Niall Arthur (Inagh-Kilnamona) for Collins (36 minutes), Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones) for O’Donnell)
Antrim: Ger Dixon; Conal Morgan, Matthew Donnelly, Tiernan Coyle; Tomas O’Ciarain, Paddy McNaughton, Chris McGuinness; Jackson McGreevey, Eoghan Campbell; Shane Dooey, Stephen McAfee, Niall McKenna; Daniel McKiernan, Conor McGann, Ciaran Clarke Subs: David Kearney for O’Ciarain (22 minutes); Michael Bradley for McKernan (39 minutes), Darragh McGuinness for McCann (53 minutes)
Referee, Colm Lyons, Cork

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