A few weeks of work in Thurles for an improving Clare. After demolishing Tipperary in the first half just seven days earlier, they did much the same at FBD Semple Stadium as they extended an 11-point lead in the 28th minute and looked like going comfortably through.
But Cork put up stiff resistance and although it never looked like they would catch them, Clare was still looking over her shoulders down the stretch after Darragh Fitzgibbon scored a late goal, Cork’s second.
It should never have gotten that far. For a long time Clare was domineering, winning almost every physical fight and bringing a ferocity to her game that Cork just couldn’t live with.
They did well with 14 players in the last 25 minutes after Ian Galvin was sent straight off after a flash point in the 50th minute. Referee Paud O’Dwyer and his officials clearly saw something.
But Clare was able to keep Cork at bay and had all the best players in the game from David Fitzgerald at winger to Cathal Malone in midfield.
Clare has been called a one-man team for the past few years, but based on this evidence and last week, there’s a lot more to it than just Tony Kelly. And the truth is, it always has been.
But manager Brian Lohan is getting more and more out of them with every game, and the notion that Munster is a two-horse race and that that third-round game was just a third-place game has been turned on its head . Clare is a very serious team with a real physical advantage.
Still performing well, Kelly shot 10 points, including four from the game. But support was everywhere.
Clare had been dominating for most of the first half and in almost every way they were dominant. And nobody embodied that more than Rory Hayes, who nailed his one-on-one with Jack O’Connor, who was recalled for the game.
But that return of one of Cork’s brightest sparks of 2021 didn’t last long, his number flashed after 26 minutes to let Alan Connolly in.
Cork was taking water on board everywhere at this point. Peter Duggan’s size and flexibility really worried them down the middle, while players like Ryan Taylor, Malone and Fitzgerald laid a shield across the middle that Cork found difficult to pierce, especially on puckouts.
Gradually the points flowed and from 0-10 to 0-3 by 17 minutes they had built it up to 0-15 to 0-4 by the 28th minute, an 11 point lead as big as Shane could have done O’Donnell found himself in complete isolation on the left wing to puck out and shoot over.
It was symptomatic of the chaos in Cork’s game but they prevailed with four points unanswered and were just six behind at the break, 0-17 to 0-11. That might have been lower had Eibhear Quiligan not thwarted Patrick Horgan from close range, although Shane Kingston followed up with a point.
Cork hurled more directly than they did against Limerick two weeks ago and benefited from that approach when Connolly claimed Robbie O’Flynn’s long delivery and he saved cover to beat Quiligan in the 47th minute.
The numerical advantage should have helped them more but Kelly and O’Donnell really took on the situation while Conor Cleary was solid at full-back too.
Cork substitute Mark Keane was sent off late when Cork pressed hard in the finish but Clare impressively kept his nerve.
Goalscorers – Clare: T Kelly 0-10 (4fs 2 65s), D Fitzgerald, P Duggan, R Taylor all 0-3 each, S O’Donnell, C Malone, I Galvin each 0-2, D Ryan , D. McInerney, R. Mounsey all 0 -1 each. Cork: P Horgan 0-10 (6fs 1 65), A Connolly 1-1, D Fitzgibbon 1-0, R O’Flynn 0-3, S Harnedy, S Kingston 0-2 each, T O’Mahony, C Lehane 0- 1 each
Klara: E Quiligan; R Hayes, C Cleary, P Flanagan; McInerney D, Conlon J, Ryan D; C Malone, R Taylor; D Fitzgerald, P Duggan, S O’Donnell; T Kelly, R Mounsey, I Galvin. Subtitle: A Shanagher for Mounsey (57), D McMahon for Duggan (69).
Cork: P Collins; N O’Leary, R Downey, S O’Donoghue; T O’Mahony, C Joyce, G Millerick; M Coleman, S Barrett; R O’Flynn, D Fitzgibbon, S Harnedy; S Kingston, P Horgan, J O’Connor. Subtitle: A Connolly for O’Connor (26), C Lehane for Barrett (ht), C Cahalane for Harnedy (56), T O’Connell for 9 inj (59), M Keane for Kingston (62).
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow).
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/hurling/clare-survive-cork-comeback-to-secure-another-munster-shc-win-41605543.html Clare survives Cork comeback to secure another Munster SHC win