Storming second half secures second Munster crown in-a-row
Munster Senior Hurling Final: Cork 2-24 Clare 3-19
Cork came from eight points down to retain their Munster Senior Hurling crown last Sunday and in so doing broke Clare hearts for the second year on the bounce.
The showdown at Semple pitted the two form teams from this season's provincial championship and while many might have felt the game couldn't live up to the hype, the doubters were shown the door as the protagonists served up a cracking cup tie.
Right from the off there was little doubt that we were in for something of a classic as the Banner went at Cork in the same manner as the men in red have become accustomed to starting against their own challenges.
Sympathy straight off the bat for Cork's full-back line as they came under serious pressure from a rampant John Conlon and goal scoring hero David Reidy who between them bagged 1-7, which turned out to be the same tally as their scoring machine Peter Duggan who was on song throughout.
Cork's second last line of defence, Damien Cahalane, Seán O'Donoghue and Colm Spillane were under sustained pressure for the entire first half, but managed to settle things down after the break with the help of their half-back line, that on the day were impressive.
Cahalane in particular had a torrid time with Conlan however when Spillane was given the duty mid-way through the period he too found a full forward at the peak of his powers.
In the middle Darragh Fitzgibbon and Bill Cooper continue to be the chosen two with the former adding a brace, while Cooper added one to his ever improving collection.
While the defence really got to grips with The Banner this game was won from the front with Seamus Harnedy, Patrick Horgan and Daniel Kearney all impressing. Luke Meade spanked home Cork's life saver of a goal before the break and added a point to that however overall the Newcestown man has had better days.
Horgan was again magnificent with eleven points, but on this day he was outshone by Captain fantastic Harnedy who scored 1-4 from play and ran the Cork attacking lines with military precision.
Harnedy has been the linchpin in this side all year and the St Ita's man gave his best display in a Cork jersey last Sunday which enabled him to lift the all important silverware.
Right from the off Cork were in trouble and despite getting back on level terms four times in the first 15 minutes they never led in the first half. Clare upped the ante on 17 minutes when a surging run from Tony Kelly gave Reidy the chance to goal, a chance he didn't think twice about.
Clare struck the net again on 33 minutes when Duggan got on the end of a long puck from keeper Donal Touhy and Cork looked holed under the waterline.
Cork struggled to the interval and looked like they were in a heap of trouble but Meade's goal just minutes before the short whistle followed by Coleman's majestic long range side-line cut saw the rebels head to the tunnel down just four - and still well in the hunt. 2-11 to 1-10.
Cork took their time coming out for the second half and that extra couple of minutes in the dressing room paid off as right from the off they took the game to Clare. Cork's second half display really did take most of the 45,364 patrons that came through the turnstiles by surprise as they quickly cut into the four point deficit.
Once the men in red drew level the game saw a host of missed chances from either side as tension took hold, but Cork soon found their mojo once more and pushed clear with a selection of scores from Harnedy, and Horgan with the former bagging Cork's second goal on 59 minutes to send the thousands of fans into ecstasy.
Clare stuck to the task for the last 15 minutes, but Cork had the lead and weren't prepared to lose it. Clare substitute Ian Galvin netted in injury time to cut the gap to two points however it was never likely to be enough with the final whistle sparking a well-deserved red pitch invasion.
CORK: A. Nash; C. Spillane, D. Cahalane, C. Spillane; C. Joyce, E. Cadogan, M. Coleman 0-2 (1sl); D. Fitzgibbon 0-2, B. Cooper 0-1; L. Meade 1-1, P. Horgan 0-11 (6f, 1.65), D. Kearney 0-2; S. Kingston, C. Lehane 0-1, S. Harnedy 1-4 Subs: R. O'Flynn for S. Kingston (59); M. Cahalane for L. Meade (64); L. McLoughlin for D. Kearney (66); D. Brosnan for B. Cooper (bs) (72)
CLARE: D. Tuohy; P. O'Connor, D. McInerney, J. Browne; S. Morey, C. Cleary, J. Shanahan; C. Galvin 0-1, C. Malone; P. Duggan 1-7 (6f), T. Kelly 0-1, D. Reidy 1-2; P. Collins 0-2, J. Conlon 0-5, S. O'Donnell Subs: J. McCarthy for C. Malone (50); C. McGrath 0-1 for S. O'Donnell (55); D. Corry for D. Reidy (63); I. Galvin 1-0 for C. Cleary (68)
Referee: J. McGrath (Westmeath)