By Mike Fitzpatrick
Kilkenny 4-10, Clare 3-8
Clare’s recent good run came to an end when they found themselves up against a rampant Kilkenny senior hurling side intent on inflicting as much damage as possible. Kilkenny had to win Sunday at Gaelic Park in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
It was obvious that their players were well aware of this, going on the attack from the first minutes of the opening half.
"Derry" Mick Collins, as opposed to his namesake, "Kilkenny" Mick Collins, opened the scoring with a well-taken goal in the first few minutes, only to see his effort equalized by Clare’s John Punch. The game continued going to and fro with Richie Hogan grabbing a point for Kilkenny and Karl Quinn replying for Clare. There wasn’t much to separate the two sides throughout the first half, with Hogan continuing his accurate point placing for Kilkenny and Barney Breen scoring a goal for Clare. Hogan’s third point was one of the "scores of the game," resulting from an intelligent piece of play involving "Derry" Mike Collins.
Hogan made a run across the field and took a pot shot from a good distance to see his shot sail over the bar for an excellent point. He followed this up with a goal which Clare’s Aidan O’Connor came very close to saving. Clare replied with points from Karl Quinn, John Punch and a surging goal from Barney Breen, who was then in a position to grab a hat trick.
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Although the game had been relatively evenly matched up until midway through the second half, Kilkenny began to push forward in droves, getting the ball to Hogan, Collins, Jerome Edge and Brian Barcoe, who all played out of their skin for their county. Kilkenny’s Kevin Corbett hit the post with a well-placed shot only for his teammate Collins to nip in and slam the ball home for his second goal of the afternoon. Although Clare replied in the form of points from Punch, Quinn and Kevin Moore, Kilkenny proceeded to grab a hold of the game and Collins’s second goal really sealed the advantage for the Kilkenny men. Brian Barcoe kicked over another point for Kilkenny.
Best on the day was the prolific Kilkenny goal-scorer Mick Collins, who clinched a hat trick, though an honorable mention must go to Peter Breen of Kilkenny, who played well throughout, and Barney Breen of Clare, who, despite scoring two goals, still finished up on the losing side.
Kilkenny lineout and scorers: James Joyce, Dermot Herlihy, Kieran Gaughan, Vinnie Norton, John Nolan, Peter Breen, Luke Doyle, Kevin Corbett (0-1), Richie Hogan (1-5), Mike Collins (3-2), Jerome Edge, Mickey Collins, Brian Barcoe (0-1). Subs — Mark Kennedy, Aidan Ryan, David Brennan, Seamus Carey (0-1).
Clare: Aidan O’Connor, Tony Burns, Noel McGovern, Brian Adams, John Kennedy, Seamus Pender, Gabriel Moore, Donal Moore, Joe Egan, Barney Breen (2-0), John Punch (1-2), Kevin Moore (0-1), Karl Quinn (0-5).