CLARE BEAT ANTRIM 2-27 to 0-11 to win their third All-Ireland U21 hurling title in five years at Semple Stadium today.
And the game was effectively over by half-time, with Clare ahead 2-16 to 0-4, as Antrim failed to upset the bookmakers’ strong favourites.
The Ulster side, to their credit, didn’t give up and improved to an extent in the second half.
Ultimately however, it was a comfortable win for Clare and a significant boost ahead of their senior final replay against Cork, with eight senior finalists starting today’s game.
Seadna Morey, Cathal Malone and Davy O’Halloran contributed early points, as Clare stormed into a 0-13 to 0-2 lead after only 20 minutes.
O’Halloran then got the game’s first goal shortly thereafter, to give his side a substantial 15-point advantage.
The Banner County continued to rack up points as half-time approached, and Shane O’Donnell’s well-taken goal from a difficult angle effectively made the game safe three minutes before the break.
Consequently, Antrim faced the unenviable task of reducing an 18-point deficit in the second half, with the score 2-16 to 0-4 in Clare’s favour.
The Ulster side did improve slightly in the second half, with points from Stephan McAfee, Ciaran Clarke and Chris McGuinness retaining a level of respectability to the scoreline.
However, further scores from Morey, O’Halloran, Enda Boyce and Cathal ‘Totts’ O’Connell sealed a dominant victory for Clare.
Scorers for Clare: Cathal O’Connell 0-11 (9fs), Davy O’Halloran 1-4, Colm Galvin 0-3, Tony Kelly 0-3, Shane O’Donnell 1-0, Seadna Morey 0-2, Cathal Malone 0-2, Enda Boyce 0-1, Jarlath Colleran 0-1, Alan O’Neill 0-1 (f).
Scorers for Antrim: Ciaran Clarke 0-7 (5fs, 1 sideline), Jackson McGreevy 0-1, Stephan McAfee 0-1, Conor McCann 0-1, Chris McGuinness 0-1, Michael Bradley 0-1.
CLARE: Ronan Taffe; Paul Flanagan, David McInerney, Jack Browne; Seadna Morey, Alan O’Neill, Stephen O’Halloran; Colm Galvin, Tony Kelly; Peter Duggan, Podge Collins, Cathal Malone; Cathal O’Connell, Shane O’Donnell, Davy O’Halloran. Subs: Kevin Lynch for McInerney (40 mins), Jarlath Colleran for Kelly (40 mins), Niall Arthur for Collins (44 mins), Enda Boyce for Galvin (44 mins), Aaron Cunningham for O’Donnell (50 mins)
ANTRIM: Ger Dixon; Conal Morgan, Matthew Donnelly, Tiernan Coyle; Tomas O’Ciarain, Paddy McNaughton, Chris McGuinness; Jackson McGreevy, Eoghan Campbell; Shane Dooey, Stephan McAfee, Niall McKenna; Daniel McKernan, Conor McCann, Ciaran Clarke. Subs: David Kearney for O’Ciarain (22 mins), Michael Bradley for Donnelly (31 mins), S Beatty for Dooey (31 mins), Michael Dudley for McKernan (40 mins), Darragh McGuinness for McCann (55 mins).
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).