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All-Ireland Final beckons after emphatic late charge of the Banner brigade

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final

Clare 0-24 Kilkenny 2-16

A late charge of the Banner brigade ensured a dramatic late turnaround in fortunes as Clare finally broke their Kilkenny hoodoo at the third attempt to advance to a first All-Ireland decider in eleven years in Croke Park, writes Eoin Brennan.

Having suffered back-to-back semi-final reverses to the Cats, a third hammerblow appeared on the cards when goals either side of the break through Eoin Cody and Billy Ryan powered Derek Lyngs side six clear by the 46th minute at 2-12 to 0-12.

However, instead of bowing to their perceived fate, a defiant determination not to be beaten coursed through Clares veins for the final 25 minutes as they not only doubled their overall scoring tally but eventually wore down their opponents by surging to the last six points of an absorbing final quarter.

Within five minutes of Billy Ryans fortuitious break for the goal, Clare had cancelled it out with four of the next five points through Tony Kelly, Mark Rodgers and a brace from the unerring Aidan McCarthy at 2-13 to 0-16.

Kilkenny resisted on three occasions through John Donnelly and TJ Reid whose 58th minute free remarkably proved to be their final score at 2-16 to 0-18.

Clare had a glorious goal chance of their own agonisingly denied by Murphy who acrobatically prevented McCarthy from finding the net.

In the end a goal wasnt required however as a momentum-fuelled Banner grew incrementally in belief with every passing score, hitting the last six points to finally turn the tide in their favour.

Captain Kelly, Ian Galvin, McCarthy and Mark Rodgers regIned full parity by the 64th minute but it was only in the 68th minute that Clare actually went into the lead for the very first time as a trip on ODonnell earned a pressursed 40 metre free from the sideline that McCarthy cooly nailed at 0-23 to 2-16.

While a war-weary Kilkenny began to falter in front of the posts, Tony Kelly provided the killer blow in the 72nd minute as Clare resolutely swatted away anything the Cats could throw at them to edge over the line.

Such an emphatic Clare finish couldnt have been foreseen in the opening period which had shades of the previous two semi-finals in that Kilkenny found scores much easier to come by and appeared to have the superior threat and guile.

The Banner did carve out the first goal chance in the seventh minute through Mark Rodgers which was stopped by goalkeeper Eoin Murphy inbetween an equalising brace of points for Aidan McCarthy at 0-2 to 0-2.

However, it was his goalkeeping counterpart that proved far the busier as Eibhear Quilligan had to produce four excellent saves while he could do nothing about Eoin Codys spectacular overhead flicked goal that wouldnt have been out of place in Wimbledon.

Quilligan made a brilliant double save to deny Cian Kenny and Adrian Mullen before Mikey Careys burst was also stopped by the advancing Feakle goalkeeper.

Clare were a completely transformed side on the turnover though, seemingly making a defiant stand that enough was enough when it came to Kilkenny and now wont fear either Limerick or Cork in their first final since 2013 in a fortnights time.

Clare: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle); Adam Hogan (Feakle), Conor Cleary (St Josephs Miltown), Conor Leen (Corofin); Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), John Conlon (Clonlara), David McInerney (Tulla); Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge), Tony Kelly (Ballyea); David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona), Shane ODonnell (Éire Óg), Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin); Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona), Mark Rodgers (Scariff), David Reidy (Éire Óg)

Subs: Ian Galvin (Clonlara) for ODonnell (23-26, BS), Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin) for Malone (49), Galvin for Fitzgerald (56), Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones) for Reidy (60), Darragh Lohan (Wolfe Tones) for Duggan (73)

Scorers: Aidan McCarthy (0-11, 9f); David Reidy (0-4); Tony Kelly (0-3); Mark Rodgers (0-2); David Fitzgerald, Peter Duggan, Shane ODonnell, Ian Galvin (0-1 each)

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy (Glenmore); Mikey Butler (OLoughlin Gaels), Huw Lawlor (OLoughlin Gaels), Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan); David Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge), Richie Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Mikey Carey (Young Irelands); Cian Kenny (James Stephens), Paddy Deegan (OLoughlin Gaels); Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks), TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan); Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan), John Donnelly (Thomastown), Eoin Cody (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

Subs: Walter Walsh (Tullogher Rosbercon) for Keoghan (57), Tom Phelan (Conahy Shamrocks) for Mullen (63), Conor Fogarty (Erins Own) for Ryan (67),

Scorers: TJ Reid (0-7, 4f, 165, 1sl); Billy Ryan (1-2); Eoin Cody(1-0); Cian Kenny, John Donnelly (0-2 each); Paddy Deegan, David Blanchfield, Mikey Carey (0-1 each)

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway)

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