Friday 19 January 2018

Walsh leads five-star Kilkenny's surge to glory

Kilkenny 5-16 Clare 1-16

A second goal from Walsh secured their first victory in six years. Photo: Sportsfile
A second goal from Walsh secured their first victory in six years. Photo: Sportsfile sportsdesk

After three final defeats in the last five years, manager Pat O'Grady finally guided Kilkenny to glory with an emphatic victory in Thurles.

"I'm a happy man alright, the last time I went into a Clare dressing room, they had beaten us in the 2011 All-Ireland final and I've been fighting the cause ever since," said O'Grady

There was no doubt about the result once Kilkenny got into their stride midway through the opening half to hit the Banner for three goals in six minutes.

Backed by the wind, Clare had settled with Ryan Taylor's tenth-minute goal to go five points clear, only to be rocked by Kilkenny's full-forward trio of Nicky Cleere, John Walsh and Billy Ryan who all raided for goals to irrevocably alter the narrative of this decider.

Lively midfielder Luke Scanlon would add a fourth in the 25th minute on their way to a 4-5 to 1-7 interval lead.

Clare captain Shane McGrath led the charge, mainly through frees but each time a more physically dominant Kilkenny responded, with Ryan and Walsh in fine form.

Clare cut the gap to four but despite a second yellow for Evan Cody, the Cats finished in style culminating with a second goal for Walsh to secure their first title in six years.

Scorers - Kilkenny: J Walsh 2-2, B Ryan, N Cleere (0-4fs) 1-4 each, L Scanlon 1-2, A Murphy 0-2 (2fs), J Langton, S Morrissey 0-1 each. Clare: S McGrath 0-10 (8fs), K Hehir 0-3, R Taylor 1-0, J McCarthy 0-2, D Russell 0-1.
KILKENNY - A Duggan; E Cody, T Aylward, L Hickey; J Cleere, C Delaney, J Brennan; J Langton, L Scanlon; A Murphy, C Tobin, R Leahy; B Ryan, N Cleere, J Walsh.
Subs: S Morrissey for Tobin (45), Jack McGrath for Leahy (54), S Donnelly for Murphy (60).
CLARE - D Vaughan; R Hayes, E Quirke, C Cooney; A McGuane, S Taylor, J McCarthy; D Conroy, K Hehir; O Donnellan, S McGrath, D Corry; D Russell, M O'Neill, R Taylor
Subs: D Walsh for Taylor (2), E Enright for Hayes (HT), P O'Loughlin for Donnellan (40).
Ref - P O'Dwyer

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