CLARE AND ANTRIM went head-to-head in the under-21 semi-final at Semple Stadium and we went minute-by-minute
Clare went into the game as massive favourites and Antrim, after last year’s debacle where the county board were unsure if they could even field a team on the day, would be looking to make a few doubters eat their words. See our match guide here.
15.56 – The teams have been going through the warm-up routines and Anthony Stapleton will soon be throwing the ball in for the 30 players. Speaking of which…
Here’s the Clare team (all in blue):
CLARE U21H: Ronan Taaffe; Paul Flanagan, David McInerney, Killian Ryan; Patrick O’Connor, Conor Ryan, Seadna Morey; Colm Galvin, Shane Golden; Tony Kelly, Padraig Collins, Aaron Cunningham; Cathal McInerney, Conor McGrath, Cathal O’Connell.
And here’s the Antrim XV (all in white):
ANTRIM U21: James O’Mullan; Ronan McCloskey, Ronan Gillan, Conal Morgan; James Black, Matthew Donnelly, James McCoaig; Aidan McKeown, Stephen McAfee; Michael Devlin, Seamus Dobbin, Kevin McKiernan; Nigel Elliot, Conor McCann, Daniel McCloskey.
16.04 – Clare 0-2 Antrim 0-0: 4mins — Seadna Morey opens the scoring with a lovely long-range strike from the right wing and Cathal O’Connell quickly makes it two after a lovely handpass from Collins. Tony Kelly lines up a free from half-way but drives it well wide. All to easy for Clare so far
16.08 – Clare 0-4 Antrim 0-0: 8mins — Conor McGrath misses an easy goal chance after Aaron Cunningham’s shot is saved by James O’Mullan; Kelly puts over the resulting ’65. Clare possibly guilty of overplaying the ball but it’s pretty on the eye. Antrim seem to be playing exceptionally deep. Padraig Collins adds number four under pressure
16.09 – It’s just very hard to see where Antrim, playing this deep, are going to get the scores here and, if Clare get one goal, it could become grim viewing
16.11 – Clare 0-5 Antrim 0-1: 12mins — Wing-forward Kevin McKiernan, on cue, opens the scoring for Antrim after intercepting a Clare puckout but Aaron Cunningham replies to it inside a minute
16.15 – Clare 0-8 Antrim 0-1: 15mins — Collins is getting too much time on the ball through the centre after being released by the raiding Tony Kelly. It ends up with Cathal McInerney trying to overhand a shot which O’Mullan turns around for a 65… Kelly converts, as is his wont. One of these goal chances will go in soon, we suspect. Corner-forward O’Connell throws over two more after dithering in the Antrim defence and then a free on the right wing
16.19 – Clare 0-11 Antrim 0-1: 19mins — O’Connell is getting too much room and throws another over after Conor McGrath breaks it. Collins adds another and, at this stage, you almost feel the lead is unassailable because Antrim have committed so few players to the attack line; there’s no full-forward line to feed. McGrath wins another free in prime real estate which is thrown over by O’Connell. Substitution for Antrim as Eoin McAlonan comes in for Aidan McKeown, and then captain Conor McCann puts a simple free wide
16.23 – Clare 1-12 Antrim 0-3: 25mins — Cathal McInerney buries the first goal of the game after Aaron Cunningham and then Collins playmake brilliantly down the right wing. It had been coming and the -23 handicap is looking shaky. Michael Devlin replies with a lovely long-range score for the Ulster side but it hardly constitutes stemmed bleeding. Nigel Elliott then has a goal chance to do just that but his effort is tame. McKiernan puts over a bomb but Cunningham replies for Clare right away
16.25 – I feel a little sorry for Antrim because they are on a hiding to nothing here. Not because Ulster sides just don’t make it to All-Ireland finals at this level but because they haven’t had a couple of tests already as Clare have. Johnny McIntosh had a chance to work out their best 15 against sterner opposition than what they faced in Ulster.
16.31 – Clare 2-14 Antrim 0-3: 31mins — A couple of wides from Clare but they won’t be worried about that as O’Connell cracks over another for old time’s sake. Shane Golden, who is cruising about the pitch, splits the post with a nice left-sided effort before Conor McGrath finds the net with ease. It’s all to easy in added time of the first half
16.33 – HALF-TIME — Clare 2-14 Antrim 0-3: Antrim change as Conor Laverty comes on for Fergus Donnelly just before the short whistle, which has now come and it’s a whitewash here in Thurles.
16.40 – So far you’d have to be impressed with how Clare are playing because they’re carrying the ball which is turning Antrim’s defence, and they know when to let the ball on. Sure, there’s been some wasteful play but overall their game is very much hurting the Saffrons. As for Antrim, they’re trying hard but there is certainly a deficit here: partly physical, partly speed and all of that is exposing skill levels to a degree. Games against Armagh and Derry were never preparation enough for opposition of this calibre
16.44 – Second half, tis yourself that’s in it!
16.48 – Clare 2-14 Antrim 0-3: 33mins —Double trouble for Antrim number 11 Seamus Dobbin as he gets yellow for a wild pull at the start if the half, and breaks his stick into the bargain. On the upside, Tony Kelly puts the free wide. Both sides tamely miss chances
16.52 – Clare 3-16 Antrim 0-3: 38mins — Cathal O’Connell, who got away with a shoulder to the head of James Black a couple of minutes ago, has the run of the place to put over another and the gaps continues to grow. McGrath then gets his second goal after Kelly threatened to butcher the chance. It should have been called for steps because McGrath had more than the usual four to five. Peter Duggan comes on and quickly puts one over the black spot
16.56 – Clare 3-18 Antrim 0-3: 42mins — Lovely interplay from Clare and Kelly knocks one over from well out the country. There’s 23 points in it after that and that was the handicap mark, with plenty of time to go. Benches to be emptied soon but not until Patrick O’Connor profits from a class Kelly stick-pass. Kelly is, as they say down in Thurles, some yoke (in a good way)
17.00 – Clare 3-19 Antrim 0-3: 46mins —Conor Malone comes on and gets on the scoresheet. Antrim have all the hall-marks of a beaten side and have stopped making support runs, though they are still harrying to their credit. Clare are indeed emptying the bench as captain McGrath is one of those to be retired
17.04 – Clare 3-20 Antrim 0-4: 50mins —Antrim keeper James O’Mullan has made about six saves today with the latest coming from corner-forward McInerney, who tries to bat it past the netminder. The game is a little disjointed and stop-start now. Goal king from the Munster final, Niall Arthur, throws a free over from the sideline to extend his side’s lead. James Black gets Antrim’s first score of the second half but it scarcely takes the bare look off the scoreline
17.10 – Clare 4-22 Antrim 0-5: 56mins — David O’Halloran flicks and flaks the ball over his man Christopher Murray in the right corner and his shot just creeps over the bar. Clare miss a couple of more chances but it’s not worth worrying about, as Seadna Morey puts over another from distance. Oh Arthur, Niall Arthur, he picks up a ball in the Antrim penalty area and flicks it over the keeper; Antrim respond with a point through Laverty but it’s scant consolation
17.13 – Clare 4-23 Antrim 0-6: 59mins — Eoin McAlonan pulls over back after good work from feisty substitute Donal McKinley. Michael Devlin gets a chance to tap over a free, which he does, after Nigel Elliott is hauled back. A Kelly ’65 for Clare keeps that scoreline hopping
17.15 – Clare 4-24 Antrim 0-6: 60mins — Niall Arthur now has 1-2 since coming on so his impact as a sub will not have gone unnoticed to the Clare selectors. Just waiting on the final bell here
17.17 – FULL-TIME — Clare 4-24 Antrim 0-7: Donal McKinley pulls back another score at the very end but that’s that from the first semi-final. Clare through and at their ease.
Thanks for joining us.