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The Clare squad and management celebrate their Kennedy Cup Shield win. Photo: Clare FAI

Clare take Kennedy Cup Shield honours

For just the fourth time ever, Clare secured silverware at the Kennedy Cup with their 2-1 deafeat of Limerick Desmond in the Shield Final.

Despite falling behind, Clare equalised when Luke Deegan set up Jason Keane Hayes to score. With the sides deadlocked at half-time, John O’Malley’s side found the winner when substitute Liam Murphy made an instant impact as he was felled in the box. Devin Downes stepped up to score the winning goal from the spot.

A second half full of heart and determination secured a deserved victory for the Banner players. Graham Ball was awarded the Man of the Match as the Avenue United man proved instrumental in his side’s trumph.

In the opening game of the tournament Clare faced the competition’s highest seeded team in DDSL. After falling behind inside the opening five minutes, Keane Hayes equalised before captain Ryan McCarthy blocked the DDSL goalkeeper’s clearance as the ball trickled to the net.

However, Clare could not hold on until half time and DDSL squared matters on 25 minutes.   

The second half failed to provide a winner with Clare looking the more likely to claim a victory but performed well to secure a 2-2 draw with Keane Hayes named Man of the Match.

The following day, Clare fell to a 3-0 defeat to a fresher Carlow outfit, with the Leinster side not playing a game the day previous unlike their opponents.

The final scoreline was harsh on a Clare side that created enough opportunities to take something from the game. Kieran Doyle produced a Man of the Match display for Clare.

On Day Three, Clare played their first knockout game as they faced Longford in the Shield Quarter Final. In a nail biting and dramatic encounter, the sides drew 2-2 before Clare won 5-3 on penalties.

Moneypoint duo Stephen McInerny and Josh McInerny put Clare 2-0 up before Longford pulled a goal back before the break. The Leinster side equalised in the second half, sending the game to a penalty shoot out.

Devin Downes, Zak Phelan, Ryan McCarthy, Graham Ball and Luke Deegan held their nerve from the spot with James Rafferty saving Longford’s opening spot kick. MOTM was the tireless Stephen McInerny.

On the fourth day of action, Clare faced South Tipperary at the semi final stage. In what was another entertaining spectacle the sides drew 2-2 with Clare once more showing their nerve to prevail 4-3 in the shootout.

With 15 minutes to play Clare’s Vice Captain Donal O’Leary opened the scoring with a sensational 30 yard strike. South Tipperary equalised shortly afterwards and looked to have stolen the victory when they hit the front in the last minute.

However, the Clare team kept their cool, playing the ball out from the back and forcing a late corner. With ever player, including keeper James Rafferty, forward for the corner, a Devin Downes inswinger was headed towards goal by Evan Crimmins and forced over the line by Josh McInerny.  

Devin Downes, Ryan McCarthy, Graham Ball and Donal O’Leary all held their nerve to convert for Clare in the shoot out. James Rafferty saved two penalties to see the Banner Ballers through to the final with the goalkeeper deservedly earning the Man of the Match award.

Clare subsequently beat Limerick Desmond in the final as they concluded their campaign with silverware. In 2021, Clare won the Kennedy Bowl for the first time in 21 years with hopes high that these sets of players can progress and develop to play at adult level in the future.

CSSL Squad: James Rafferty, Kieran Doyle, Bobby Ferns, Devin Downes, Evan Crimmins, Donal O’Leary, Luke Deegan, Graham Ball, Ryan McCarthy, Zak Phelan, Steve McInerny, Tom Spellman, Patrick Lonergan, James Rochford, Josh McInerny, Darragh Connors, Liam Murphy, Denis Martsenyuk, Jason Keane Hayes, Oisin Tierney.
Management Team: John O’Malley, Barry Downes, Greg Deegan, Trevor Toomey, James Ferns, Paul Roche, Jamie Coghlan. RDO: Denis Hynes ETP Coordinator: Deirdre Shannon

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