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Cats shut down Honan threat

Darach Honan of Clare is tackled by Kilkenny's Paddy Nolan during their U-21 GAA All-Ireland final at Croke Park. Photograph by John KellyPrior to this season’s Munster U-21 A hurling championship he wasn’t that widely known outside of Clare. But on the way to last Sunday’s final Darach Honan’s performances landed him squarely in the limelight.

It was clear from the outset last Sunday that he was a marked man. Kilkenny recognised the serious threat Honan posed and they clearly had a plan devised to stop him from having a similar impact as he had against Limerick, Waterford and Galway on the way to the final.
He was voted man of the match in both the Munster final win over Waterford when he contributed 2-2 in Dungarvan and in the All-Ireland semi-final against Galway in Thurles when he scored 2-4.
Although he didn’t manage to make his way onto the score sheet this week, Honan still made a valuable contribution winning a number of vital frees. The fact that he even played was a testament to his character as he had battled back from a hamstring injury picked up when helping his club to victory over Scariff in the championship two weeks earlier. To add to his worries he had battled a cold in the days leading up to the final.
“This is unbelievable. If we had lost it would have been a different story. We would be feeling the pain. It was an intense match,” said the Clonlara star in a crowded dressing room shortly after the final whistle.
Did he ever doubt that Clare might not win this one?
“At one stage I thought it might go to extra time. We were doing well the whole time though, even when they scored, we replied soon enough. Our scores from out the field kept us in it. John (Conlon) got some magnificent points,” replied the UCC student who is eligible for this grade again next year.
Beating Kilkenny made this victory particularly sweet. “They are really the benchmark at the moment with four senior titles in a row. It’s great to beat them and hopefully Clare will keep going like this,” he said.
Will it be difficult to get back to competing in the domestic championship after the highs of this victory?
“It will be a bit difficult to re-focus as that was a savage battle. In Clonlara we are lucky enough to have a bye in the next round. We can enjoy this week. I am sure that the club rivalry will come back into it at some stage and this will help,” he concluded.


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