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06th Apr 2024

McCarthy sparkles as Clare win their first piece of silverware since 2016

Niall McIntyre

Clare 3-16 Kilkenny 1-20

April is a huge month for the Clare hurlers and they began it in the best possible fashion, winning their first piece of silverware since 2016.

Munster championship clashes on successive Sundays against Limerick and then Cork later on in the month will have a bigger bearing on their season as a whole but this Allianz National Hurling League final win over Kilkenny sets them up perfectly for the bigger days ahead.

The loss of TJ Reid to a hamstring injury before throw-in didn’t bode well for Kilkenny and his absence was keenly felt throughout the game.

Points from Billy Drennan (free) and Darragh Lohan cancelled each other out in the opening stages before a beautiful score from Shane Murphy from under the Ryan Stand put Kilkenny in front.

Four early misses prevented them from extending their lead, however, with Adrian Mullen, John Donnelly, Paddy Deegan and Billy Ryan all firing wide despite having the gusts of Storm Kathleen at their backs.

Ryan made up for it moments later as he latched onto a break from an Eoin Murphy puck-out before taking a fine score.

All the while, Clare were also struggling to come to terms with the wind in the opening quarter of an hour as Mark Rodgers (twice) and John Conlon also sliced wide.

The scrappy opening to the game was interrupted by a moment of magic from David Blanchfield, who dummied beautifully before dissecting the posts from all of 90 yards.

By this stage, Kilkenny were beginning to hurl, with Eoin Cody only denied a goal by a Clare hook before a brilliant trio of Adrian Mullen points.

The telepathic Ballyhale connection was plain for all to see for the third of those, with Cody having set Mullen free with a deft pass.

Clare stopped Kilkenny from getting any ideas just then, hitting the Cats with a pair of pre-half-time blows. Both of those came from the stick of Aidan McCarthy who rattled the back of the net just a minute before he boomed over a long range free.

6 April 2024; Aidan McCarthy of Clare celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal, in contrast to Paddy Deegan of Kilkenny, right, during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 final match between Clare and Kilkenny at FBD Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary. Photo by John Sheridan/Sportsfile

For the goal, McCarthy gave Eoin Murphy no chance after a slaloming run from the ever-elusive Mark Rodgers.

As for the free, it was as well-taken as it was hotly disputed, with Kilkenny claiming that Adrian Mullen had hit Cathal Malone with the perfect shoulder.

Initially, referee Johnny Murphy indicated that he felt it was legal before he was over-ruled by his linesman. It meant that Clare went into the break leading by two on a scoreline of 1-8 to 0-9.

The introduction of Shane O’Donnell for his first minutes of the League gave the Clare fans reason to cheer and they were cheering even louder only one minute later, when O’Donnell was central to the creation of their second goal.

His clever lay-off sent the onrushing David Reidy clear and he linked up with David Fitzgerald who thundered in on goal before releasing a rasper to the roof of Eoin Murphy’s net.

Kilkenny will again have felt aggrieved, this time over the number of steps taken by the Inagh Kilnamona man. But the goal stood, and Clare were soon six points clear, after another brace of frees from Aidan McCarthy.

By this stage, Kilkenny’s attack was malfunctioning badly with the absence of TJ Reid and Wally Walsh keenly felt up front.

Their defence was under pressure too and the dam burst once more when Fitzgerald turned provider, before McCarthy scythed through for his second goal of the game.

Clare looked destined for glory at that stage and while they did eventually get there, it was only after surviving a late Martin Keoghan inspired rally. Eoin Cody and John Donnelly also roared into the game in a typically defiant late burst from the Cats. Cody’s late goal was the highlight but brilliant as it was, it wasn’t enough.

His missed penalty three minutes before the end was ultimately key, with Clare holding onto win by three points in the end.


Eoin Murphy; Shane Murphy (0-1), Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; David Blanchfield (0-1), Paddy Deegan, Richie Reid (0-1); Cian Kenny (0-2), Jordan Molloy (0-1); Adrian Mullen (0-3), John Donnelly (0-1), Billy Ryan (0-1); Luke Hogan, Billy Drennan (0-1f), Eoin Cody (1-4, 0-3f)

Subs: Martin Keoghan (0-4) for Luke Hogan (29), Kevin Blanchfield for Jordan Molloy (48), Liam Blanchfield for Billy Ryan (60)


Eibhear Quilligan; Adam Hogan, Conor Cleary, Conor Leen; Diarmuid Ryan (0-1), John Conlon, Cian Galvin; David Fitzgerald (1-0), Darragh Lohan (0-1); Cathal Malone (0-1), Mark Rodgers (0-3), Peter Duggan; Aidan McCarthy (2-10, 0-9f), Ian Galvin (0-1), David Reidy. 

Subs: Shane O’Donnell for Ian Galvin (HT), Aron Shanagher for David Reidy (52), David McInerney for Cian Galvin (57), Rory Hayes for Conor Leen (58), Seadna Morey for Darragh Lohan (66)

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