Saturday 18 November 2017

Banner 'in dreamland' after final of guts and glory

Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

HAT-TRICK hero Shane O'Donnell summed up the emotion perfectly.

"I'm in dreamland," he said, as Clare finally killed off Cork in an epic All-Ireland final replay that will go down as one of the greatest in hurling history.

For Cork it was like a death in the family. For Clare, a fitting riposte to those who said they left the game behind them in the first match.

And it was 19-year-old student Shane O'Donnell, who didn't get a puck in the first match, who wielded his hurl like a magic wand with three stunning first-half goals.

By now familiar foes, Cork and Clare fought to a bloody standstill. It was the sixth time they had met since February.

This was close-quarter combat at its most visceral. There were five points on the board in the first three-and- a- half minutes.

Then a brilliant Clare goal from a man who was brought in at the last minute by Davy Fitzgerald.

O'Donnell rifled the sliotar home and 10,000 first-scorer betting slips were torn up in disgust. But Cork survived a Clare blitzkrieg in the first match and there was little sign of panic in the red ranks.

Match reports and analysis, sport pages 1-5

Then O'Donnell stuck another knife in Cork hearts with an almost identical goal.

Then a dubious free awarded to Cork. Up gallops Anthony Nash, the Cork keeper, to put it in the top right corner. Unstoppable.

This was turning into a shoot-out. And Clare's new gunslinger wasn't shooting blanks. Nineteen minutes on the board and O'Donnell batted the ball past Nash.

But at half-time even the fans were glad to get a chance for a breather. Cork had whittled away an eight-point deficit and went in at half-time just four points behind 3-9 to 1-11.

But amid the thunder, the grievous commitment to the cause, there was beauty, wit and grace too; the deft downward flick of O'Donnell's third goal, an outrageous dummy by Cork's Seamus Harnedy and elegant point-taking off the left and the right.

As the second half began, it was Cork who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. Top marksman Patrick Horgan was nailing the free and it was a one-point game. And by the 52nd minute it was 3-10 to 1-16. 19 apiece.

From nowhere, with his first ever championship goal, Harnedy rifled the ball into a corner of the Clare net. Ten minutes left and all square again. A super game heading for a frenetic climax. Could it get any more exciting? Yes it could.

Now with a couple of minutes left Clare had a six-point cushion. It looked all over.

Then Stephen Moylan scored a goal for Cork before Clare's Darach Honan broke the Rebel men as he almost walked the ball into the Cork net. It was 5-16 to 3-16.

Delirious Clare fans poured into the streets in celebration after their young team's magnificent victory.

Sunday Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News