CLARE ran out 2-20 to 1-22 winners over Kilkenny in their Division One National League clash in Cusack Park this afternoon.
Goals from John Conlon and Podge Collins were the difference in an encounter where Clare were dominant for long periods but a goal from Kevin Kelly from a free with the last puck of the game ensured the minimum would separate the teams.
Kevin Kelly opened the scoring with a free after 45 seconds before Colm Galvin got a fine point from play to level it up straight after. Kelly added a second free a minute later. Cleary started well, winning two battles and a free early. Clare started quickly but had four wides in first five minutes so did not make their early influence felt.
Colin Guilfoyle soon set matters straight with a fine catch and point to open his account. Kelly soon added another free as Clare leaked too many scoreable frees in the first quarter, and relinquished possession too often on their own puck-outs.
Ger Aylward then announced his arrival with two big scores in two minutes from out the field to lift the big Kilkenny contingent in attendance and to see Clare trailing 0-5 to 0-2.
After 13 minutes, Clare kicked into gear with 1-3 in three minutes. Ian Galvin started the scoring spree and a minute late Conlon found the ball at his feet after Guilfoyle lofted it in high. Conlon pulled on the ground and in it went.
Two Duggan points, one free and one from play, put Clare three ahead before the score of the half from Diarmuid Ryan edged them further ahead.
Kilkenny then regrouped and got five of the next six scores from Kelly, Delaney, two from James Maher, and one from Billy Ryan left the visitors trailing by just a point at half-time.
Colm Galvin got a point straight from the restart before two Duggan frees made it a four-point gap once more.
Kelly added his fifth free of the game soon after but it was cancelled out by a point from Conlon who was causing Huw Lawlor problems at full-back.
Diarmuid Ryan added his second soon added his second soon after and then came the moment of the second half as Colm Galvin played in Podge Collins who blasted to the net to give Clare breathing space with just over 20 minutes left.
Ryan then added his third soon after before Ian Galvin got two in quick succession to bring his tally to four.
The cats responded with four scores from Kelly, Donnelly, Aylward and Maher but with 10 remaining there was still four between the teams.
Kilkenny narrowed the gap with two more frees from Kelly and a point from sub Padraig Walsh but scores from Gary Cooney, a Duggan free, Niall Deasy ensured Clare would do enough to take the spoils in an entertaining clash despite Kelly’s late goal to make it appear closer than it was.
Read a comprehensive match report, interviews and analysis in this week’s Clare Champion.
Clare: Donal Tuohy; Rory Hayes, David McInerney, Jack Browne; David Fitzgerald, Conor Cleary, Cathal Malone; Shane Golden, Colm Galvin; Diarmuid Ryan, Podge Collins, Peter Duggan; Colin Guilfoyle, John Conlon, Ian Galvin.
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Paul Murphy, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; Conor Delaney, Paddy Deegan, Enda Morrissey; James Maher, Conor Fogarty; John Donnelly, Ger Aylward, Martin Keoghan; Billy Ryan, Kevin Kelly, Richie Leahy.