Clare hold off brave Wexford challenge to claim three-in-a-row
CLARE 2-20 WEXFORD 3-11
Holders Clare held off a gallant Wexford in a terrific match to win the Bord Gais Energey All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling final for the third successive year.
The Tony Kelly-inspired Banner just had tdoo much firepower on the night for their opponents, but there was no shame for the Slaneysiders in losing to great champions.
Wexford opened the scoring with a point from a free by Jack Guiney after five minutes, but almost immediately, Tony Kelly equalised from play for the Banner.
That set the tone for an exciting first half. Aaron Cunningham fired over two points in quick succession before the first turning point of the game.
This came when Wexford's Kevin Foley hit the crossbar with a shot that had 'goal' written all over it.
That was bad enough but from the ensuing scramble, Clare's Colm Galvin emerged with the sliotair in his possession and the counter-attack was immediately under way.
His long ball found Shane O'Donnell who opened the way for David Reidy to hit the net from close range.
That put the score at 1-2 to 0-1 but Guiney clipped over a point from a free to get Wexford back on the scoreboard.
Clare had another great goal chance with a shot by Reidy, but Wexford 'keeper Oliver O'Leary made a great block, and corner back Andrew Kenny cleared the rebound off the line.
At half time Clare led by 1-8 to 0-6, and Wexford needed to find an extra gear if they were to have any chance of saving the match.
They did that in style, scoring three points by Conor McDonald, Jack Guiney (free) and Conor Devitt.
The problem was Clare upped their game too, and a point by Bobby Duggan was followed by a 38th minute goal by Cunningham after his path was opened by the marauding Shane O'Donnell.
Gearoid O'Connell got a point for Clare but then Wexford sub David Dunnelifted Slaneyside hopes with a goal in the 44th minute to put the score at 2-11 for Clare and 1-10 to Wexford.
Then the game went a little crazy, in a pulsating final 15 minutes.
Dunne and Conor McDonald scored goals for Wexford but Clare had been striking points well, so with three minutes left, Clare led by 2-17 to 3-11, just three points between them.
Wexford had two goal chances, one that went narrowly wide and another by McDonald that Clare keeper Keith Hogan saved for a 65, and with further scores by Kelly and Galvin (2), Clare got safely home.
Scorers: Clare: T Kelly 0-7; G O'Connell, J Shanahan 0-1 each; C Galvin 0-4; B Duggan 0-4 (3f); A Cunningham 1-2; D Reidy 1-1
Wexford: J Guiney 0-7 (6f, 65); D Dunne 2-0; C McDonald 1-1; G Moore 0-2; C Devitt 0-1
Clare: K Hogan; J Colleran, J Browne, S Morey; G O'Connell, A O'Neill, J Shanahan; C Galvin, E Enright; B Duggan, T Kelly, P Duggan; S O'Donnell, A Cunningham, D Reidy.
Subs: C O'Connell for G O'Connell (49); A O'Neill for S O'Donnell (54); S O'Brien for J Colleran (59).
Wexford: O O'Leary; A Kenny, L Ryan, E Conroy; J White, S O'Gorman, J O'Connor; A Nolan, C Devitt; J Guiney, G Moore, P Foley; R Clarke, C McDonald, K Foley.
Subs: D Dunne for J O'Connor (34); J Cash for J White (41); C O'Leary for G Moore (52); P Sutton for J Cash (59).
Referee: C McAllister (Cork)