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02nd Jul 2022

Dalo sums it up as Kilkenny do to Clare what they’ve done to so many others

Niall McIntyre

Kilkenny 2-26 Clare 0-20

Kilkenny did a Kilkenny on it.

Why are we even surprised? Are we even surprised? All-Ireland semi-finals have always been their bread and butter but this, on a day that was supposed to be so much different, in a championship that was supposed to revolve around Clare and Limerick, was meat and drink.

Kilkenny did a Kilkenny on it.

The 2019 All-Ireland semi-final was the last time we’d seen them this good, when they did to Limerick what, this evening, they did to Clare. Limerick recovered and, in the mean-time, they have become, in many people’s eyes, the best team since, you guessed it, Brian Cody’s Kilkenny.

But they haven’t played Brian Cody’s Kilkenny since and, should they beat Galway tomorrow, then they will be looking ahead to a date with destiny.

That date is Sunday July 17th and it could just be the day that, with the hurling God’s looking down, Limerick and Kilkenny will collide. It’s All-Ireland final day and, if those are the two teams contesting it, then it sets your heart racing to think that absolutely everything will on the line.

Just how Kilkenny will have wanted it.

Not many would have thought that, of all teams, they would be the team that team that stands in Limerick’s way but that’s exactly where they are.

Clare were talked up to the high heavens and, in a way that suited them down to the ground, Kilkenny were talked out to the long grass but that’s always been a dangerous place for a Cat. And these Cats are dangerous animals.

In the first half they’d have bitten your hand off if you looked at them wrong.

It was an exhibition of purified and certified Codyness as, for 35 minutes, the mere sight of those black and amber jerseys, just as they used to in the past, sent their opponents to a panic room. We’ve seen this one before. And Anthony Daly summed it all up afterwards.

“A total malfunction today,” he said on The Sunday Game.

“For some reason. Maybe we left it in the Munster final…But this crowd, Kilkenny, when they’re tuned in, when they’re coming in underdogs for a day like this, and they start like they did, they’ll usually put you away.”

That’s what they did.

Clare lobbed high and hopeless balls, they played as individuals and they did things that they would never do. All the while, you had TJ Reid catching high balls for sport.

You had Huw Lawlor, down the other end of the field, marking one of the biggest men in Croke Park, doing the exact same thing. Winning his own ball.

You had Adrian Mullen picking his moments and punishing his opponents until they barely had a pulse left. All over the field, there were black and amber men, winning battles and winning this game and it all started in those frantic first fifteen minutes.

That was 15 minute spell that saw Kilkenny catch five balls cleanly. It was a quarter of an hour that, in true Kilkenny style, saw them flick the ball out of Clare hands no fewer than four times, the most eye-catching of these when, having beaten to the ball by Conor Cleary, TJ Reid just stopped him dead in his tracks. Another point on the board. Another point for working hard.

Cian Kenny won frees like they were going out of fashion. He is this year’s bolter from the Cody machine. Conor Browne was like a man who’d been told this was the last game of hurling he’d ever get to play as, for a good hour, he hit everything that moved. Tony Kelly was supposed to be bringing Clare back to the promised land but Mikey Butler hadn’t read that script. He didn’t give Tony Kelly a sniff.

And now Brian Cody has the sniff of Liam MacCarthy in his nose.


Kilkenny: TJ Reid (0-10, 0-7f), Cian Kenny (1-2), Adrian Mullen (0-5), Martin Keoghan (1-0), Eoin Cody (0-3), Padraig Walsh (0-2), Billy Ryan (0-2), Conor Browne (0-1), Walter Walsh (0-1).

Clare: Tony Kelly (0-4, 0-3f, 0-1 ’65), Shane O’Donnell (0-4), Diarmuid Ryan (0-3), David Fitzgerald (0-3), Mark Rodgers (0-2), Rory Hayes (0-1), David McInerney (0-1), Ryan Taylor (0-1), Peter Duggan (0-1, 0-1f).