| 15.2°C Dublin

Slow start spells end of the road for Oliver army

St Oliver Plunkett's/ER provincial dream is over after they went down to Kilkenny side Clara in the Leinster IHC semi-final at Blakestown Road on Sunday, 1-12 to 0-8.

It brings to an end a terrific year for the Navan Road side, who were superb throughout their Dublin championship assault, and represented Dublin with distinction during the Leinster adventure.

On the day, however, they came unstuck against a superb Clara side who once again showed what talent is available even outside the top level of the game in the Marble County.

A slow start ultimately cost Plunkett's, as they conceded an early 1-2 and despite closing the gap to as little as a goal entering the final 10 minutes, Clara were always able to get scores at vital times.

Indeed, as the Cabra men pushed for the goal their challenge so urgently required, Clara were able to pick off some late points to seal the victory.

For Plunkett's, wing-back Aidan Bairds was outstanding, while the bulk of their scores once again came from the stick of captain Stuart Mullen, who really led by example, taking the game to Clara.

Team manager Terry O'Brien was obviously disappointed not to win the game, but was delighted with the season and is hoping it can be built upon in 2013.

"I'm very proud of the lads in the way they applied themselves. It was a good competitive game," he said.

"We have had a fantastic year. We are the first hurling team in the history of Plunkett's to be involved in Leinster.

"It's a great experience for us. We are playing division one championship next year, and the goal will be to get division one league as well."