Rampant Ryan oversees Banner blitz of outclassed students
Clare 2-28 UCC 1-4
Clare cruised into a third successive Waterford Crystal SH final when they proved way too strong for UCC in a semi-final played under difficult weather conditions at Sixmilebridge.
Unlike their opening game against Limerick, when they started with only one player who began last season's All-Ireland final, Clare, under manager Davy Fitzgerald, yesterday lined out with nine of those who began both of last September's deciders.
The students must surely be demoralised by the 27-point drubbing received ahead of their opening Fitzgibbon Cup game on Thursday next against Waterford IT. But for Clare it was yet another game under their belt as they prepare for the visit of Kilkenny on February 16 which kicks off their National League campaign.
Though playing against a strong wind in the opening half, the hosts began well and led by 0-6 to no score by the 10th minute.
Seven minutes later, the scoreboard read 1-7 to 0-0, with Colin Ryan rattling Darren McCarthy's net from a penalty after Banner attacker David Reidy was fouled by UCC corner-back Diarmuid Lestor.
James Barry's '65' in the 18th minute got the students off the mark and they were thrown a lifeline of sorts when Patrick Deasy was in for a goal in the 25th minute leaving them trailing by 1-7 to 1-1. Clare retired at the interval 1-10 to 1-3 ahead and after half-time UCC introduced Clareman Shane O'Donnell as a substitute.
But unlike the replay of the All-Ireland final when O'Donnell scored 3-3 for his county, the Éire Óg clubman failed to hit the target on behalf of his college. UCC were overwhelmed in the second period, scoring only once when Jack Ahern put over a free in the 49th minute. Clare on the other hand shot some fantastic scores with Colin Ryan in impressive form at left half-forward, contributing a whopping 1-12 to his side's overall tally.
Even defenders got in on the scoring act with corner-back Cian Dillon contributing a point and centre-back and team captain Pat Donnellan hitting two from play.
Substitute Cathal McInerney, when introduced at full-forward early in the second half, was another to impress. The Cratloe man scored two fine points and was influential when the Banner grabbed their second goal through Davy O'Halloran later in the game.
McInerney passed to David Reidy and he found O'Halloran who scored from close range. On a day that was difficult for hurling, UCC were unable to match Clare's quality and prowess. Fitzgerald's men exhibited better pace, footwork, stickwork and the ability take their points.
Clare now await a final clash against either Tipperary or the University of Limerick, whose other semi-final, down for decision yesterday at Nenagh, was called off due to an unplayable pitch.
Scorers – Clare: C Ryan 1-12 (1-0 pen, 7fs), D O'Halloran 1-1, J Conlan 0-3, P Donnellan, C O'Connell, C McGrath, C McInerney 0-2 each, C Dillon, P Duggan, D Reidy, J Shanahan 0-1 each. UCC: P Deasy 1-0, J Ahern 0-3fs, J Barry 0-1 '65'.
Clare – P Kelly; S Morey, D McInerney, C Dillon; B Bugler, P Donnellan, P O'Connor; L Markham, P Duggan; J Conlon, C O'Connell, C Ryan; D O'Halloran, C McGrath, D Reidy. Subs: C McInerney for McGrath (43), J Shanahan for Duggan (43), C Cleary for O'Connor (51), P Flanagan for Morey (51), N O'Connell for Dillon (63).
UCC – D McCarthy (Cork); S Maher (Tipperary), D Glynn (Kilkenny), D Lestor (Cork); J Barry (Tipperary), C Murphy (Cork), S Roche (Kilkenny); R O'Shea (Cork), D O'Mahony (Cork); T Butler (Tipperary), M Sugrue (Cork), B Hartnett (Cork); A Cadogan (Cork), J Ahern (Limerick), P Deasy (Cork). Subs: N Purcell (Clare) for Barry, S O'Donnell (Clare) for O'Shea, M O'Driscoll (Cork) for Maher (all h-t), A Goold (Cork) for Glynn (48), PJ Hall (Limerick) for McCarthy (53).
Ref – M Wadding (Waterford)