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‘A special day and a special win’ – Diarmuid Ryan

The relief; the jubilation on the field when it was all over; the calm and satisfaction afterwards as Clare left Croke Park secure in the knowledge that they’d be back in a few weeks time. These were the winning moods and personas displayed among the players as they went on their way after the glass ceiling of this All-Ireland semi-final stage had finally been cracked. A first All-Ireland semi-final win over Kilkenny since 1997 and only a second championship win over Kilkenny ever; a day of atonement for the most recent semi-final defeats against Kilkenny; an All-Ireland final day out to look forward to on July 21. “It’s a special feeling for sure,” said Diarmuid Ryan. “A special day and a special win but we’re going to knuckle down for two weeks and the All-Ireland final.” As he spoke the reset had already taken place – the hoopla had died down, with Ryan and the rest of the players being …

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‘We grabbed it with both hands’ – Tony Kelly

It’s a measure of the standards that Tony Kelly has set in his 13 years as a senior inter-county hurler and of his star quality that despite being subdued for the first 45 minutes of the All-Ireland semi-final that he still ended up as one of the game’s most influential players. Doing the maths tells this story – no Clare player ended up with more than him from play as he top-scored jointly with David Reidy who had a huge game in the 61 minutes of game time that he got. And for the Ballyea colossus, who has slipped into the veteran classes almost unnoticed, his three-point burst down the long home straight of this All-Ireland was a crucial part of the power-play that ultimately swamped Kilkenny and left them shellshocked at the end. And you could say that this comeback was really kickstarted by Kelly, with his opening point being the first response to the Billy Ryan goal, which …

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Dominant display drives Blues to record 26th Clare Cup title

Newmarket-on-Fergus 1-19 Inagh-Kilnamona 1-11 The victor wasn’t a surprise but the manner of Newmarket-on-Fergus’ 26th Clare Cup title certainly proved to be as the roll of honour leaders had a rather bloodless final triumph in Clarecastle on Friday evening. Bridging a six year gap to their last Clare Cup crown, it was an utterly commanding display when first responding to the hammerblow of an early goaled Inagh-Kilnamona penalty to outscore them by 1-7 to 0-1 in the second quarter and carve out a match-winning 1-11 to 1-04 interval cushion. Indeed, it wouldn’t have flattered the Blues had the half-time chasm been doubled as amidst their second quarter siege, James Carrig’s side passed up four glorious goal chances in as many minutes just before the recess. Niall O’Connor was outstanding at the back, Peter Power was equally influential at the other end while Stephen Casey was also hugely effectual when switched to shadow Inagh-Kilnamona’s talisman Fred Hegarty. This was an impressive …

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Kearns’ golden goal secures Division 3 Hurling League title for the Parish

St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield 2-14 O’Callaghan’s Mills 0-17 It really doesn’t matter if you lead early in a match or are chasing the game for lengthy spells but what does matter though is who is ahead when it counts the most and that’s at the final whistle. On Sunday morning out in Tulla the men from the Parish epitomised resilience and got their just rewards for never surrendering when grabbing the lead for the only time in the sixtieth minute to practically steal a cracking league final that was played in a hugely sporting manner. It was two second strings but nobody who was in Dr.Daly Park would have guessed that as these two played out a superbly contested battle that ebbed and flowed throughout with the result in doubt right up until referee Pat Healy’s full time whistle. Level on six occasions it took a late late Conor Kearns goal to decide the destination of league honours. One could only …

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Éire Óg go to town on the ’Bridge

Éire Óg 3-20 Sixmilebridge 2-14 There’s always a certain level of respect between clubs but sometimes there’s also a level of contempt that is evident for all to see. On Sunday evening this Division 2 final was practically over by the end of the opening quarter. The townies who would have genuine Canon Hamilton ambitions were going through the motions and without much exertion had eased to an eight point lead. Fast forward to the final minutes and after battling throughout the Bridge’s second team who will compete in the Intermediate Championship to their credit only trailed by nine. Gerry O’Connor’s charges are in complete and utter control with several tap over point opportunities but rather than take them they continually try to engineer another green flag to inflict more pain on their opponents. I suppose a series of high profile clashes between the clubs in recent years will have that effect and they did eventually get their third major in …

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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 Lyng’s 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 Clare’s 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 Ryan’s fortuitious break for the goal, Clare had cancelled it out with …

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Exacting revenge would be thrice as nice for Clare

There’s no doubt about who the top three hurling teams in the country are as Limerick, Clare and Kilkenny have consistently reached the All-Ireland Semi-Final stage since the most equitable means of deciding the Liam MacCarthy winners, the provincial round-robin series, returned in 2022. There’s also no debate about which of the triumvirate is currently on top as Limerick are bidding for a historic five-in-a-row of All-Ireland that even Kilkenny themselves in their pomp couldn’t quite achieve. And let’s be honest, while Clare supporters can legitimately put a strong case forward based on mere results against John Kiely’s side that Clare are the closest to their Shannonside neighbours, heretofore the last two All-Ireland Semi-Final showdowns between Clare and Kilkenny have told a much differing tale. Consequently, it’s effectively a do-or-die final part of the trilogy in Croke Park this Saturday (3pm) as Clare either need to finally prove themselves on the national stage or else accept that they are third …

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Clare inhabit Russian Roulette country

The clock struck 72 minutes when Peter Duggan’s flash of the ash directed the Cummins sliotar towards the goal. This was it. The final act of a stirring Clare revival that had now brought them to the cusp of giving the Croke Park attendance of 48,300 another 20 minutes. From the sideline that was floated into the scoring zone seconds earlier David Fitzgerald emerged from a ruck of eight players, went goalwards and then passed back to Duggan whose reverse sweep looked like bringing the sides level until Eoin Murphy’s lightning reflexes produced the save of the year as he pushed it onto the black spot of the crossbar. It hit it at exactly 72 minutes, a second more had passed before everyone realised what had happened, while seven had elapsed by the time a frantic effort to clear the ball by the Kilkenny backs fell to Diarmuid Ryan who stroked it over the bar for a consolation score. A …

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