Injury-time points earn Cork a merited share of the spoils in Clare
It’s Kilkenny up next for the Rebels in the National League semi-final
ALLIANZ NHL DIVISION 1A
While they were already through to the Allianz hurling league semi-final, Cork travelled to Ennis on Sunday for their final group game against Clare in search of another good performance.
Two injury-time points from substitutes Conor Cahalane and Conor Lehane saw them deservingly maintain their unbeaten run and seal a semi-final date with Kilkenny next week
In a game played in front of 3,446 patrons, many of them having travelled from Cork for the game, Clare and Cork were level on seven occasions in a tie which produced some great excitement in the second half in particular.
There were plenty of talking points also, not least the sending off, on a straight red card of Clare’s David Fitzgerald ten minutes from time following an altercation with Cork centre-back Robert Downey.
This has led to speculation that unless the red card is overturned, the All-Star will miss Clare’s opening round of the championship against Tipperary.
Scores came hot and fast in the opening half, when, for the most part, the players had to contend heavy rain. The visitors had raced into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead when Pádraig Power gained possession from a Brian Roche delivery and shot low to the net in the ninth minute to put his side five clear, 1-3 to 0-1.
Clare responded immediately and after Cork goalkeeper Ger Collins parried a piledriver from Tony Kelly, Éire Óg’s David Reidy was on hand to fire home Clare’s opening goal.
By the mid point of the half the teams were level for the first time at 1-6 each before David Fitzgerald gave the home side the lead for the first time.
Points were then exchanged twice before Cork hit another purple patch which yielded 1-2 in two minutes, the goal coming from Seamus Harnady after good work by Alan Cadogan.
Again, Clare’s response was impressive and Aidan McCarthy struck for the side’s second goal after Ger Collins in the Cork goal had saved from Seadna Morey. The half ended with Cork two points ahead, 2-12 to 2-10.
What was particularly noticeable in the opening half was the sharpness of the Cork players throughout the field and they were a trifle unfortunate not to have had a greater lead when the half time whistle sounded
Seven minutes into the second half the sides were level at 2-13 each and from here on a draw looked the likely outcome. It was 2-15 each at the three quarter stage. To the delight of the home side’s following Clare opened a two point gap with ten minutes to play.
Cork rallied to within a point before Fitzgerald saw red. Lehane missed an easy free for the visitors before Robyn Mounsey put Clare two clear as three minutes of additional time were signalled.
To their credit, Cork didn’t panic and substitutes Lehane and Conor Cahalane struck for points in the additional time to keep Cork’s unbeaten record in this season’s competition in tact and they now turn their attention to next week’s semi-final.
There will be some concern as half forwards Seamus Harnady and Declan Dalton picked up injuries which forced them to retire before half time.
Niall O’Leary, Robert Downey, Dalton and Harnady until injured and Jack O’Connor did well for Cork
For Clare the focus now switches to the championship and their first round clash with Tipperary on April 23.
CLARE; Eibhear Quilligan, Aaron Fitzgerald, Conor Cleary, Paul Flanagan, Diarmuid Ryan (0-1), John Conlon, David McInerney, Seadna Morey, Tony Kelly, David Fitzgerald (0-3), Cathal Malone, Ryan Taylor (0-1), David Reidy (1-0), Aidan McCarthy (1-11, 9f) Ian Galvin (0-1) Subs: Darragh Lohan for A. Fitzgerald, half time; Peter Duggan for Galvin, 58, Robyn Mounsey (0-1) for Reidy, 58, David Conroy for Morey, 61, Jack Kirwan for Taylor, 68
CORK: Ger Collins, Niall O’Leary, Dara O’Leary, Eoin Roche, Cathal Cormack, Robert Downey, Cormac O’Brien, Brian Roche, Ethan Twomey, Declan Dalton, (0-4, 3f), Seamus Harnady (1-3), Brian Hayes (0-2), Alan Cadogan (0-1), Padraig Power (1-1), Jack O’Connor (0-2) Subs: Conor Lehane (0-4, 3f) for Harnady (inj), 29, Conor Cahialane (0-1) for Dalton (inj), 34, Shane Kingston for Cadogan, 44, Ger Mellerick for B. Roche, 56, Damian Cahalane for O’Leary
REFEREE: Thomas Walsh (Waterford)