Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland Under 21 Hurling Championship Semi-Final – Clare 1-16 Galway 0-7

Clare defeated Galway by 1-16 to 0-7 in the Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland Under 21 Hurling Championship Semi-Final on Saturday August 24th at Semple Stadium Thurles.

Clare’s golden generation drive on

Clare 1-16 Galway 0-07

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

With four starters from the senior team that qualified with the All-Ireland final Sunday week ago, and another eight from the panel, it was the turn of their U21s to show their class with a quality performance against Galway. Great times then for the Banner County, times to be savoured says joint manager Donal Moloney. “It may never happen again in our lifetime,” he said. “We don’t have massive resources to maintain an effort like this all the time. People look at the quality of that team today. “It’s not as if we have a conveyor belt of the same quality coming through. We should enjoy this while we have it and we should savour it. We have the All-Ireland senior final in two weeks and we should make the most of it because it might not break like this again. We have to absolutely make the most of this wonderful opportunity.”

They made the most of Saturday’s opportunity, though it did take them until the second half to do so. They had problems with Galway, yes, but more especially they had problems with their shooting, hitting eight first-half wides. The Tribesmen were faring even worse though with just three points from 10 shots on goal to trail at the break by two, 0-5 to 0-3. None of the senior stars shone in this period, full-back McInerney making the most positive impression but he was the one caught for all three Galway points, two by full-forward Cathal Mannion, the third from Conor Cooney after he had been switched to the edge of the square. Midfielders Galvin and Kelly were almost anonymous but Podge did score a fine point.

The second half however was a different game. The Clare machine — with the seniors beginning to find their mojo — clicking smoothly through gears the young Galwegians didn’t have. It began with a let-off, Galway corner-forward through on goal just three minutes after the restart but booting wide from close range. As good teams tend to do, Clare took full advantage and just a minute later diminutive corner-forward Cathal O’Connell pounced on the break of a Stephen O’Halloran centre to goal from close range.

“When you have the likes of Tots [O’Connell] and Shane O’Donnell and Davy O’Halloran and these guys, if something breaks, they’ll punish it,” said Donal. “It was a fortunate enough break for Tots, from where I saw it, fell beautifully for him, but he had a great game today, delighted with how he finished it.” From there Clare drove on, their power, pace and precision simply too much for Galway. They added 11 points, all six forwards getting in on the act, sub Cathal Malone notching two absolute beauties.

At the other end the defence too was on top, the full-back trio of captain Paul Flanagan, McInerney and Jack Browne outstanding, centre-back Alan O’Neill a tower of strength with the pacy Seadna Morey racing forward for a dashing point, Stephen O’Halloran also winning his personal battle. All in all, an impressive win, so comfortable that Moloney and co-manager Gerry O’Connor could afford the luxury of replacing their senior starters before the end.

“We’re trying to play a certain style that suits the way they’ve trained for the past two or three years. We’re trying to use the ball and the guys have great athleticism and are able to find each other. They love playing it and we’re playing to their strengths. Passes will be intercepted and balls will be intercepted but when it does work it is quite effective. Those guys are going day-in, day-out, you can’t expect them to hit 100% performance for 60 or 70 minutes every day; in Croke Park last week, again today. It’s not always possible. For some of the guys, particularly for Tony, Colm and Podge, they were really focused on today and on beating Galway. “That will help them in two weeks, going into the All-Ireland [senior] final.”

Scorers for Clare: C O’Connell (1-6, 5fs), D O’Halloran (0-3), P Collins, C Malone (0-2 each), S O’Donnell, P Duggan, S Morey (0-1 each). Scorers for Galway: C Cooney (1f); C Mannion (0-3 each); S Maloney (0-1).

CLARE: R Taaffe; P Flanagan (c), D McInerney, J Browne; S Morey, A O’Neill, S O’Halloran; C Galvin, T Kelly; P Duggan, P Collins, S O’Donnell; C O’Connell, A Cunningham, D O’Halloran. Subs for Clare: C Malone for Cunningham (30+2), D Keane for O’Donnell (47), M O’Neill for Collins (51), J Shanahan for Galvin (55), E Boyce for Kelly (55).

GALWAY: S Mannion; P Killeen, J Hanbury, B Keane; P Huban (c), D Burke, M Keating; A Touhy, P Claffey; T Flynn, C Cooney, J Glynn; P Brehony, C Mannion, J Flynn. Subs for Galway: C Keane for T Flynn (38), S Maloney for J Flynn (48), S Sweeney for Claffey (54), J Carr for C Mannion (57).

Referee: D Kirwan (Cork)


Under 21s: Clare 1-16 Galway 0-07

Report from the RTE GAA web site

Clare have beaten Galway by 12 points, 1-16 to 0-07, in this evening’s Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 Hurling Championship semi-final. But the sight of forward Aaron Cunningham limping off with an injury in first-half stoppage time cast a shadow over an impressive win. Cunningham appeared to sustain a hamstring tear and must now be rated as a serious doubt for Clare’s two forthcoming All-Ireland finals – the senior clash with Cork on 8 September, followed by the U21 decider with Antrim six days later. Cunningham’s injury was confirmed by Clare’s joint-manager Donal Moloney when he spoke to reporters shortly after the final whistle.

Moloney and sidekick Gerry O’Connor used their bench well in the second half, with other senior players Shane O’Donnell, Podge Collins, Colm Galvin and Tony Kelly withdrawn with the game in the bag. Clare had little trouble overcoming a disappointing Galway side, playing in the U21 championship for the first time this summer. Their lack of cohesion was obvious as Clare, with 12 senior panellists in their ranks, took full advantage. David McInerney, Galvin, Kelly and Collins all started against Limerick in last Sunday’s semi-final at Croke Park.

And there was a real slickness about this evening’s display, in front of 6,238 spectators at Semple Stadium. The scene is now set for potentially the greatest week in the history of Clare hurling, if their senior and U21 teams can bring home two pots to the Banner County. At half-time, Clare led by 0-05 to 0-03 before leading scorer Cathal O’Connell scored the 34th minute goal that ended this fixture as a contest.

In that first half, Clare registered eight first half wides, with Galway racking up seven of their own. A goal was always going to be crucial and once Clare got it, they pulled away to record a big win.

Galway can consider themselves fortunate, too, to have finished the game with 14 players. Full-forward Cathal Mannion flicked the side of David McInerney’s head in the 14th minute but referee Diarmuid Kirwan opted for just a yellow card. Galway Jason Flynn booted a shot wide early in the second half and that miss proved costly as Collins made no mistake at the other end. And the winners received another boost a couple of minutes later when Shane O’Donnell’s ‘point’, which was clearly wide, was allowed to stand.

Clare: R Taafe; P Flanagan, D McInerney, J Browne; S Morey (0-01), A O’Neill, S O’Halloran; C Galvin, T Kelly; P Duggan (0-01), P Collins (0-02), S O’Donnell (0-01); C O’Connell (1-06, 0-05f), A Cunningham, D O’Halloran (0-03).

Subs: C Malone (0-02) for Cunningham (30+2), D Keane for O’Donnell (47), M O’Neill for Collins (51), J Shanahan for Galvin (55), E Boyce for Kelly (55).

Galway: S Mannion; P Killeen, J Hanbury, B Keane; P Huban, D Burke, M Keating; A Tuohy, P Claffey; T Flynn, C Cooney (0-03, 1f), J Glynn; P Brehony, C Mannion (0-03), J Flynn.

Subs: C Keane for Flynn (38), S Maloney (0-01) for Flynn (48), S Sweeney for Claffey (54), J Carr for C Mannion (57).

Referee: D Kirwan (Cork)

Fixture Details

24.08.2013 (Sat)

Bord Gais Energy GAA Hurling All Ireland U21 Championship Semi Final

Semple Stadium Thurles 18:00

Gaillimh v An Clár

Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Corcaigh)

(E.T. if Necessary)

Match Coverage

This game will take place on TG4

Team News

CLARE: Ronan Taaffe (Tubber); Paul Flanagan (Ballyea), David McInerney (Tulla), Jack Browne (Ballyea); Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge), Alan O’Neill (St. Josephs Doora Barefield), Stephen O’Halloran (Clarecastle); Colm Galvin (Clonlara), Tony Kelly (Ballyea); Peter Duggan (Clooney Quin), Padraic Collins (Cratloe), Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones); Shane O’Donnell (Eire Og), David O’Halloran (Eire Og), Cathal O’Connell (Clonlara).

GALWAY: Shane Mannion (Clarinbridge); Paul Killeen (Tynagh Abbey Duniry), John Hanbury (Rahoon Newcastle), Barry Keane (Clarinbridge); Paul Huban (Loughrea), Darragh Burke (St Thomas), Matthew Keating (Turloughmore); Adrian Tuohy (Beagh), Paul Claffey (Cappataggle); Thomas Flynn (Athenry), Conor Cooney (St Thomas), Jonathan Glynn (Ardrahan); Padraig Brehony (Tynagh Abbey Duniry), Cathal Mannion (Ahasrcragh Fohenagh), Jason Flynn (Tommie Larkins)

Match Preview

Galway v Clare, Semple Stadium, 6pm (Live on TG4)

It’s a special time to be a Clare hurler, and for the considerable contingent of senior players still eligible for the U21 grade, this is truly a remarkable time. For the likes of Shane O’Donnell, Tony Kelly, David McInerney, Podge Collins, Colm Galvin and Seadna Morey, the next few weeks could be the most remarkable of their sporting lives. They take on Galway in the Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 Hurling Championship semi-final on Saturday, and on September 8, they will all be heavily involved when Clare take on Cork in the All-Ireland senior hurling final.

Should the U21s beat Galway this Saturday, then on the Saturday after the All-Ireland senior final, they will have another All-Ireland final to play in – the U21 decider against either Wexford or Antrim. It’s an incredible situation, and one that must be hard for some of the players to get their heads around. But that is the lie of the land at the moment in Clare. They simply have a remarkable crop of young hurlers coming through, most of whom have already made a considerable mark at both senior and U21 level. They are the reigning All-Ireland U21 champions, added a second Munster U21 crown in a row earlier this season, and many of them have dazzled in the Clare senior team’s spectacular run to the All-Ireland final this year.

With such blockbuster days coming up for this young group of players, the natural tendency might be for senior boss Davy Fitzgerald to insulate those playing on both teams as much as possible, and preserve them for the September 8 date. However, he said after the All-Ireland semi-final win over Limerick that he would not be interfering with the U21 players in any way. “I want them to go out and do their very best,” he insisted. “The 21s deserve a fair crack of the whip and that was our approach after the quarter-final. We’ll be releasing them to the U21s straightaway this week; they’ll work with the 21s all week. They will not come near us so they won’t. “They deserve to play in their own age group. That’s my belief and that’s my feeling. I’ll be asking them to focus completely on that because I think they have to focus on that. We actually have 14 of them training with us since last November.”

So far, the double jobbing of Kelly et al has not affected the U21 team’s performances. They were excellent in their defence of the Munster crown, recording a solid 2-15 to 0-17 win over a talented young Waterford side in the semi-final, before a 1-17 to 2-10 win over Tipperary in the Munster final. But for all the armoury that Clare possess, their U21 opponents on Saturday, Galway, will not fear them. In fact, it is doubtful if Galway teams ever fear anyone at U21 or minor level, such is their mastery of the grades. Galway have won three U21 All-Ireland titles in the last eight seasons so they are not strangers to success at this level.

However, when one considers that this will be the Tribesmen’s first match in the U21 competition in 2013, it immediately points to the scale of the challenge facing them against Clare. The lack of a Connacht U21 Championship means Galway enter the All-Ireland at the semi-final stage, unlike the Munster or Leinster teams, who have come through highly competitive provincial championships to get this far.

The two most potent forces for Galway are senior players Jonathan Glynn and Conor Cooney. Sharpshooter Cooney starred in St. Thomas’ march to the All-Ireland club title earlier this season, while Ardrahan man Glynn brings a considerable physical presence to bear, and he featured prominently for Anthony Cunningham’s senior side in the championship this season. While much will be expected of that pair, who both line out in the half-forward line, the challenge is for Galway as a whole to rise to the occasion and make up for their lack of match practice as best they can. They are managed by Johnny Kelly, with Tony Keady and Dinny Cahill also on board and they have named their team for Saturday. Cooney’s fellow St. Thomas’ man Darragh Burke is at centre-half-back while the side is captained by Paul Huban at right-half-back. Cooney is on the forty, with Glynn to his left.