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Younger Cats can get Kilkenny off to winner

FINALS and formbooks don't often make compatible bedfellows but tomorrow's All-Ireland minor final looks pretty clear cut.

Take, for example, the respective protagonists results against Dublin -- the only side to have played both finalists.

In fairness to John Murphy's charges, they remain the only side to hold the Cats to single figures when they met in the Leinster opener but Kilkenny blew them apart completely in the provincial final.

However, Dublin did enjoy good spells of possession but were unable to translate that into scores - particularly during the opening half.

Clare on the other hand had much more difficulty despatching the Dubs, even if they were more than marginally the better team in the All-Ireland semi-final.

In all likelihood, Kilkenny have improved upon that standard again and backboned by half a dozen players from the famed St Kieran's All-Ireland Colleges winning side, they will possess a confidence and a winning mentality.

There are also six survivors from last year's All-Ireland final loss to Galway so they've tasted the big day and have some amends to make tomorrow. They're not short on pedigree either. John Power and Pádraig Walsh are younger brothers of senior men, Richie and Tommy, and it shows.

Clare aren't without their charm, though.

Niall Arthur and Paudge Collins look to have the makings of senior hurlers and they will be looking for a much more significant contribution from David O'Halloran, who was kept scoreless in the semi-final by the astute play of Conor Murphy at corner-back.


O'Halloran represented the Banner county in the Munster U21 final earlier this summer and has pace, accuracy and guile in his personal arsenal.

Still, whatever way to tally up the side's respective merits, Kilkenny are miles out in front and should prevail against the Banner to be crowned All-Ireland minor champions for the 20 time.

KILKENNY (MHC v Clare): D Walsh; J Corcoran, W Phelan, B Kennedy; P O'Carroll, L Harney, O McGrath; K Kelly, O Walsh; J Power, P Walsh, C Buckley (capt); M Brennan, G Aylward, T O'Hanrahan.

ODDS: Kilkenny 1/12, Draw 14/1, Clare 15/2

VERDICT: Kilkenny