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Clare's Jamesie O' Connor (centre) and Kilkenny's Andy Comerford (left) in action from the 1999 All-Ireland semi-final.

Advantage Kilkenny in semi-final rivalry

Clare and Kilkenny have clashed at the All-Ireland semi-final stage on four occasions, with the Banner County’s only victory coming at the first time of asking writes Joe Ó Muircheartaigh.

10 August 1997
Clare 1-17 Kilkenny 1-13
At Croke Park

This was the first championship clash between Clare and Kilkenny in 65 years since they’d crossed sticks in the 1932 All-Ireland final. That final in ’32 was a case of what might have been for Clare as they were left to rue a late missed goal chance by Tull Considine.
There were no regrets here though as Clare ruthlessly showed how hurling was singing to their tune as they eased to a four-point victory that was much more comfortable than the margin suggests.
And it showed what a difference two years can make — when these two played in the 1995 National League final it was Clare that cut forlorn figures on the field afterwards on the back of a 2-12 to 0-9 defeat.
However, that everything had changed since then was shown in this 70 minutes, something explained best in Liam Horan’s summation in The Irish Independent when he said: “You would be hard pushed to find a more Clare-like victory than the one that steamrolled them over Kilkenny. From start to finish they were bullish and flexed their muscles freely.”
Put simply they blew the Cats away, with a fast start that yielded points by man-of-the-match Jamesie O’Connor and Ger O’Loughlin, before O’Loughlin then goaled in the fourth minute sending Clare on their way.
After leading by 1-8 to 0-6 at the break they then ramped it up once more and when Jamesie O’Connor fired over in the 49th minute for a 1-14 to 0-7 lead this game was done. Yes, Kilkenny rallied at the death with a DJ Carey goal in the 55th minute putting a more forgiving look to the scorecard, but everyone in the 47,965 attendance knew it was a command performance by Clare, with 1-12 of their total coming from play.
“This is just another day’s work for us,” said Ger Loughnane. “We’re glad to have won, but you don’t see anyone dancing around or jumping for joy in here. Our aim is to win the All-Ireland this year. If we don’t do that we will have failed.”
They were never going to fail.

Clare: D Fitzgerald; M O’Halloran, B Lohan, F Lohan; L Doyle, S McMahon (0-2, 1f, 1 ‘65), A Daly; O Baker, C Lynch; J O’Connor (0-9, 4f), C Clancy, PJ O’Connell (0-2), N Gilligan (0-2), G O’Loughlin (1-2), F Hegarty. Subs D Forde (0-1) for Hegarty, E Taaffe for Baker.
Kilkenny: A Ronan; J Costelloe, E O’Connor, W O’Connor; D O’Neill, P O’Neill (0-1, ’65), L Keoghan; P Larkin (0-1), A Comerford, J Power, C Brennan (0-1), DJ Carey (1-6, 6f), K O’Shea, PJ Delaney, C Carter (0-2). Subs P Barry (0-1) for for O’Shea, D Byrne (0-1) for Power, B McEvoy for Brennan.

Referee: D Murphy (Wexford)

15 August 1999
Kilkenny 2-14 Clare 1-13
At Croke Park

After Clare bridged a gap of 83 years to play championship hurling in Croke Park in 1995 they went on to play eight games there and had never been beaten along a roller-coaster ride that included some epic days out.
Alas, that run was also going to come to an end at some stage and this was the day, when after many memorable encounters from these previous games in ’95, ’97, ’98 and even into ’99 came to an end before a record semi-final attendance of 54,000.
It was the class of DJ that did for Kilkenny, and Clare, with the ‘Dodger’ having help from a supporting cast like Brian McEvoy who plundered four points from play-off Clare’s great captain Anthony Daly.
It was Carey’s goal 15 minutes from the end that proved to be the game’s decisive score, coming just minutes after substitute Stephen McNamara had goaled to bring the margin back to just one point, but where it was lost for Clare was in the first half.
Despite shipping a goal to Ken O’Shea after just 40 seconds Clare had dominated the first half, but still only went in level at half-time at 1-5 to 0-8. Thereafter, it was Kilkenny that turned the screw and moved clear thanks to McEvoy and Carey, before Clare grabbed a lifeline through McNamara.
“When Mac scored, I said to myself on the line ‘here we go, we’re back into it’,” said selector Tony Considine, “but Jesus, the next thing, out of nowhere DJ conjures a bit of magic. We were beaten by a better team – a wonder goal by a wonder player”.
The tributes didn’t end there: “The Clare team to me have been – and I have no problem in saying this regardless of how many All-Irelands anyone wins – the team of the ‘90s,” said Brian Cody in bringing Kilkenny to the All-Ireland final in his first year in charge — a few more would follow.
“And, I say that with no problem, even if we go on and win three All-Irelands,” he added.
Clare: D Fitzgerald, Brian Quinn, B Lohan, F Lohan, L Doyle, S McMahon, A Daly (0-1), C Lynch, O Baker, J O’Connor (0-5, 4f), C Clancy, PJ O’Connell (0-1), D Forde (0-1), N Gilligan (0-3), A Markham (0-1). Subs S McNamara (1-0) for Forde, B Murphy for Clancy, E Flannery (0-1) for O’Connell.

Kilkenny: J McGarry, P Larkin, C Brennan, W O’Connor, M Kavanagh, P O’Neill (0-1), P Barry, A Comerford (0-1), D Byrne (Capt), DJ Carey (1-3), J Power (0-2), B McEvoy (0-4), K O’Shea (1-0), H Shefflin (0-3), C Carter.
Subs N Moloney for O’Shea, PJ Delaney for Carter.

Referee: Willie Barrett (Tipperary)
13 August, 2006
Kilkenny 2-21 Clare 1-16
at Croke Park

Just before the end of this All-Ireland semi-final, the big screen on Jones’ Road flashed with a Guinness slogan that said, ‘Immortality Beckons’.
It was probably a nod to King Henry Shefflin, because of what he’d produced in the previous 70 minutes before a watching audience of 70,978 in effectively being a one-man wrecking ball to Clare’s chances of reaching a final showdown against Cork.
Over the course of the contest that was much closer than eight points between them in the end suggests the Ballyhale maestro hit 1-13, with 1-6 of that coming from play after he hit the ground running when first timing a long free from James McGarry to the net after just two minutes.
Clare gave as good as they got for most of this game, with Niall Gilligan’s goal helping them recover from their early set-back as they settled down and went toe-to-toe with the favourites as matters rested at 1-10 apiece at the break.
A 49th-minute goal from substitute Eoin McCormack gave Kilkenny a five-point advantage (2-14 to 1-12), but when Clare rallied with points from Gilligan (2), Tony Carmody and Seanie McMahon to bring it back to a point with seven minutes remaining. A minute later a chance to draw level was spurned before Kilkenny turned on the after-burners with seven without reply in the closing minutes.
“Henry Shefflin is an extraordinary player and he was a vital cog in our victory,” admitted Brian Cody. “But like every other player, Henry knows it’s a team game, and he’s only as good as the lads around him.”
“This is a terrible place to lose – we lost a semi-final last year here, as did Clare, and they’re experiencing that feeling again. We feel for them, and that’s not rubbish talk, we genuinely do. They’re true heroes, they’re true hurlers,” he added.
“I think this is it,” said Clare boss Anthony Daly. “I really feel that my time is up. After the Cork game last year, we decided to give it one more year and now we’ve given that.”
Kilkenny: J McGarry; J Tyrrell, N Hickey, JJ Delaney; J Ryall, J Tennyson, T Walsh; J Fitzpatrick (0-1), D Lyng (0-1); E Brennan (0-1), E Larkin (0-2), M Comerford (0-2); M Rice, H Shefflin (1-13, 5f, 1 ’65, 1 pen), A Fogarty. Subs B Hogan for Tennyson, E McCormack (1-0) for Rice, W O’Dwyer for Fogarty, R Power (0-1) for McCormack.

Clare: D Fitzgerald; G O’Grady, B Lohan, F Lohan; B O’Connell, S McMahon (0-5f), G Quinn; J Clancy, C Lynch; N Gilligan (1-3, 2f), T Carmody (0-2), D McMahon (0-1), D Quinn (0-1), A Markham, T Griffin (0-4). Subs D Hoey for G Quinn, J McInerney for D Quinn, P Vaughan for Clancy, D O’Rourke for McMahon, D O’Connell for Markham.

Referee: S Roche (Tipperary)

3 July 2022
Kilkenny 2-26 Clare 0-20
at Croke Park

Clare came in hope, but a combination of a number of different things ensured that this All-Ireland semi-final was lost long before the end and a new look Kilkenny side eased their way into a first final in three years.
There was the loss of John Conlon with a back injury before the game that was an undoubted hammer blow, but it was much more than that conspiring to ensure that the Banner County hopes of bridging a nine-year gap went up in flames.
There were 24 wides over the course of the contest, 11 in the first-half when the game was won and lost. The final nail was driven just before the short whistle when Martin Keoghan rifled past Eibhear Quilligan for a goal, which was effectively a six-pointer as just seconds before that opportunity knocked for Clare when Peter Duggan was bearing down on Eoin Murphy’s goal only for the chance to be lost.It meant when matters rested at 1-17 to 0-6 the game was as good as over against a Clare side that failed to get to the pitch required for an All-Ireland semi-final.
It just didn’t happen for Clare, with Tony Kelly being held scoreless in a championship game for the first time since Clare’s 2017 Munster semi-final win over Limerick being the greatest illustration of this. Mikey Butler, in his first full championship season, did a great man-marking job on him while elsewhere the enduring brilliance of TJ Reid who hit double figures ensured the Cats won in a canter as Brian Cody brought them to a 17th All-Ireland final in his 24 years.
In the process, his side avoided a third successive All-Ireland semi-final defeat. “Everybody wants to get to the All-Ireland final,” he said, “and of course, I would say in everybody’s mind and everybody’s heart, they would be saying, ‘Look lads, we can’t afford to let this happen again’. Because it’s a tough feeling when you do lose it”.

Kilkenny: E Murphy; T Walsh, H Lawlor, P Deegan; M Carey, M Butler, R Reid; C Kenny (1-2), C Browne (0-1); A Mullen (0-5), P Walsh (0-2), B Ryan (0-2); TJ Reid (0-10, 7f), M Keoghan, E Cody (0-3). Subs: W Walsh (0-1) for Keoghan, J Donnelly for P Walsh, R Leahy for Browne, A Murphy for Ryan,D Blanchfield for Carey.

Clare: E Quilligan; R Hayes (0-1), C Cleary, P Flanagan; D Ryan (0-3), D McInerney (0-1), P Fitzpatrick; D Reidy, R Taylor (0-1); S O’Donnell (0-4), T Kelly (3f,1 ’65), D Fitzgerald; C Malone, P Duggan (0-1), I Galvin. Subs A Shanagher for Galvin, M Rodgers (0-2) for Reidy, A Fitzgerald for Fitzpatrick, S Meehan for Duggan, S Golden for Taylor.
Referee: F Horgan(Tipperary)

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