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Published: 17:39 | 8/5/16

Clare edge Deise in thriller

Late Kelly heroics secure AHL crown

Man-of-the-match Tony Kelly struck two superb points deep into injury time as Clare claimed the Allianz Hurling League Division One title with a 1-23 to 2-19 victory over holders Waterford in a thrilling final replay at Semple Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

While many people lamented the indifferent quality at times of last week's drawn encounter, there could be no such complaints this time out as hurling's newest rivalry served up a game to savour which began and ended in dramatic fashion while remaining truly enthralling throughout.

From the moment that Patrick Curran burst through the Banner defence and fired the ball into the net from close range with barely 20 seconds on the clock, it was clear that this was going to be a lot different from last weekend's offering.

The same player added a point shortly afterwards before Kelly opened Clare's account on four minutes with a well-taken score.

The Banner continued their fightback and were ahead for the first time in the match on 20 minutes courtesy of a Conor McGrath free.

But Waterford responded with another score from Curran to level matters before Jake Dillon found the back of the net to seemingly put the Deise back in charge.

They led by five points as the game edged towards half time, but a succession of scores from McGrath who sent over 0-06 in the first half, saw the arrears reduced to 2-09 to 0-12 at the break.

Waterford maintained their advantage as the sides exchanged scores early in the second half, but Clare reduced the arrears to just three points on 48 minutes as Kelly showed the Waterford defence a clean pair of heels before shaking the net with an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper to make it 2-15 to 1-15.

Darach Honan made it a one-point game shortly afterwards, but Waterford responded once again.

They enjoyed a three-point advantage as the game headed towards three minutes of stoppage time and, even though Honan reduced the arrears with a fine score, it looked like they would hang on to retain their title.

That was until Kelly's heroics deep into stoppage time as two points, the first from a free from halfway and the second from close to the touchline, snatched a dramatic victory for Davy Fitzgerald's side who claimed the top tier crown for the first time since 1978.

By: Kieran O'Daly

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