IT WASN’T a day for hurling or field games in general, but Clara proved their undoubted class when winning the Kilkenny intermediate hurling championship final for the fourth time, beating All-Ireland junior champions, St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) by 1-7 to 0-4.
Clara proved their dominance in the division this season by completing the league/championship double after being relegated last year following a replay in the relegation final against Dicksboro.
The winners were that bit more determined and stronger than their younger opponents, nine of whom are still eligible for the under-21 grade. Clara led all the way during a game that was ruined by constant heavy rain and heave underfoot conditions. Really, the weather succeeded in turning the contest into a battle against the elements as much as anything else, but Clara had a near endless appetite for the fray.
The key score was a goal for Clara in the 15th minute by Austin Murphy, following a tremendous burst out of defence and huge clearance by full-back, John Phelan. That helped fire the winners into an interval lead of 1-6 to 0-3.
The teams added a mere one point each during an all action, energy sappying closing half. While St Patrick’s gave their all, they never looked like saving the game. They lacked firepower up front, where Kevin Kelly was their lone scorer, all from placed balls.
Scorers: Clara – James Nolan (0-3); Austin Murphy (1-0); Keith Hogan (0-2, frees); Lester Ryan, Liam Ryan (0-1 each). St Patrick’s - Kevin Kelly (0-4, three frees, one 65).
Clara – Kevin Nolan, Tom Ryan, John Phelan, Sean O’Shea, Neal Prendergast, Shane Prendergast, David Langton (capt), Jack Langton, Lester Ryan, Conor Phelan, Austin Murphy, Liam Ryan, Ciaran Prendergast, James Nolan, Keith Hogan. Subs – Chris Bolger for C. Prendergast; Brian O’Shea for K. Hogan; Stephen Quinlan for A. Murphy.
St Patrick’s – Michael Gannon, John Mooney, Stephen Staunton, Robbie Healy, Kieran Delaney, Geoff Morrissey, James Gannon, Brian ‘Brook’ Phelan (capt), Geoffrey Brennan, Michael Brennan, Kevin Kelly, Jody Phelan, Barry Staunton, Bill Staunton, Joe Brennan. Subs – Eoin Bergin for M. Brennan; Brian Mulhall for K. Delaney; Conor Delaney for J. Brennan.
See Kilkenny People this week for match report and interviews.