Clare win pulling up to take third title in five years
Antrim overpowered in under-21 decider at Semple Stadium
Clare captain Paul Flanagan with the trophy after their victory over Antrim in the All-Ireland under-21 hurling final at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Brendan Moran /Sportsfile
Clare 2-28 Antrim 0-12: It wasn’t the complete landslide that was predicted, it was worse, Clare having to hold themselves back in the end to prevent an utter annihilation of Antrim when winning the All-Ireland under-21 hurling title at Semple Stadium.
In claiming a third such title in five years Clare underlined their blossoming of hurling talent although this time it was no contest, the Ulster champions simply unable to repeat their semi-final performance, when they took out Wexford.
So, in front of a strong crowd of 11,148 – almost all from Clare – it was all one-way traffic.
Indeed in the opening 30-minute half alone, Clare spread their scoring among seven players – Cathal O’Connell leading with way with 0-8 (seven frees), with Davy O’Halloran hitting 1-1, Shane O’Donnell 1-0, Tony Kelly, Cathal Malone and Colm Galvin 0-2 each, and Seadna Morey with 0-1.
So, leading by 18 points at the break, 2-16 to 0-4, it wasn’t just a case of game over at half-time, but what Antrim could possibly salvage from the game in the second half.
Nothing, as it turned out. Instead, Clare knowing their work was done, and conscious of the All-Ireland senior replay against Cork on Sunday week, called ashore, all within seven minutes of the second half, Tony Kelly, David McInerney, Colm Galvin, and Padraic Collins, all four being senior stars on Davy Fitzgerald’s panel.
All that was left then was for time to run down, Ciaran Clarke’s free keeping something ticking over for Antrim, while Clare eased up with comfort of a team in sweet, joyous control of where they’re at.
Cathal O’Connell is worthy of the last word, however, with his grand total of 0-12 – before the team was duly swarmed by the Clare supporters.