Formidable Clare U-21s determined to keep their treble bid on track
Reigning All-Ireland champions include seven senior stars for semi-final clash against Tipperary
Clare’s Tony Kelly celebrates a score agains Wexford last Saturday. The reigning Hurler of the Year is included in a strong home U-21 team against Tipperary in Ennis. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
It may or may not be ideal timing but Clare get the chance to move on from the surrendering of their All-Ireland senior title this evening when their under-21 team look to continue their dominance in that grade in the Munster semi-final against Tipperary.
Clare also have home advantage in Cusack Park in Ennis (7.30, live on TG4) and their team is set to include seven players who featured against Wexford in last Saturday’s senior qualifier defeat – including Tony Kelly, Colm Galvin and Seadna Morey.
Clare have further motivation as they look to secure a place in the Munster final. They are bidding to claim a third provincial title in succession – and fourth since 2009 – and possibly a third All-Ireland in succession too. But there is a lot of hurling to be played before that, and Clare are slightly weakened here without injured trio Eoin Enright, Cathal O’Connell and Shane O’Donnell – although Aaron Cunningham is back from injury.
Extremely closeLimerickDonal Moloney
However Tipperary have run them extremely close in recent years, including in last year’s Munster under-21 final, where Clare won 1-17 to 2-10.
Indeed Tipp haven’t claimed this title since 2010 and their team includes six starters from last year’s final: Liam McGrath, Michael Breen, Séamus Kennedy, Cathal Barrett, Tomas Hamill and Jason Forde.
Senior Tipperary footballer and underage duel star Colin O’Riordan also lines out in the half forward line, while Ronan Maher – part of Eamon O’Shea’s senior panel – is named at right half back.
Cork face Waterford in the other semi-final with Waterford having home advantage at Walsh Park (7.30).
Cork haven’t won a Munster under-21 title since 2007 but will start this semi-final buoyed by their senior team’s Munster title victory over Limerick last Sunday.
They will also start as favourites, having comfortably beaten Waterford 1-16 to 1-3 when the sides last met in this grade in the 2010 quarter-final.
However Waterford, managed by Peter Queally, will present a far greater test this time. They include several senior stars of their own such as Jake Dillon and Austin Gleeson, who join Jamie Barron in a formidable half forward line. Waterford, reigning All-Ireland minor champions, haven’t won a Munster under-21 title since 1994. They ran Clare close in last year’s Munster semi-final, before losing out 2-15 to 0-17.