Clara put in a strong finish and reduced a five point gap to the minimum during the closing seven minutes, but they came up just short against O'Loughlin Gaels in a keenly fought Kilkenny junior hurling championship (Section B) final in Bennettsbridge this evening.
The winners of Section B, which is confined to senior and intermediate clubs, join the junior clubs proper in the semi-finals which will be played next weekend.
O'Loughlin's got the lift of a goal from a penalty by Alan Geoghegan after only five minutes to help them find a good rhythm. That score was the main one that divided the teams at half-time when O'Loughlin's led by 1-10 to 0-8.
The winners missed a great chance of a goal immediately after the break, but that didn't bother Clara. They kept charging forward, but when the O'Loughlin's held a lead of 1-13 to 0-11 entering the dying stages it looked all over.
However, John Murphy inspired Clara to the finish. The lively wing forward grabbed three points, and with two additions from frees by James Bergin they almost forced the issue to another day.
However, O'Loughlin's held on, and a late point from a free on midfield by Alan Geoghegan proved the winner in the end.
SCORERS: O'Loughlin Gaels - John Doyle (0-7); Alan Geoghegan (1-3); Daniel O'Connor (0-3); Gary Bryan, Garry Kelly (0-1 each). Clara - John Murphy (0-7); James Bergin (0-3); Conor Phelan, Matt Kenny (0-2 each); Peter Nolan, Joe Connolly, Stephen Quinlan (0-1 each).
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