Cork 2-24 Clare 2-19
Cork are the kingpins of Munster hurling again after silencing the Banner roar for a second successive season in Thurles.
The Rebels changed manager since last year’s five-point final triumph over Clare, but John Meyler retained essentially the same personnel and they delivered again in front of an attendance of 45,363 to extend Clare’s provincial championship famine.
It was Cork’s 54th Munster title and the first time since 2005-2006 that they have retained the crown. The victory secured them passage to the All-Ireland semi-final but unless they start delivering in Croke Park the significance of this success will be diminished.
It was a bitterly disappointing afternoon for Clare, though they are still in the All-Ireland series – they will meet either Wexford or Westmeath in the All-Ireland quarter-final in two weeks’ time.
Although they conceded 1-1 in the dying minutes of the first half having played against the breeze they were four points clear at the break.
But they failed to get any traction in the second half as Cork took control in all sections. Long before Seamus Harnedy’s 59th-minute goal they were all at sea and with key figures such as Tony Kelly and John Conlon failing to fire after the break, their cause was lost. Ian Galvin’s goal deep in injury time was nothing more than a consolation score.
Cork were very dependent on Patrick Horgan to keep the scoreboard ticking over in the first half – he hit six first-half points including two delightful efforts from play.
In the 33rd minute a long free from Donal Touhy was flicked to the Cork net by Peter Duggan and Conlon added his fifth point immediately afterwards to extend the Clare lead to eight points.
Cork needed a response and it came seconds before the break with a Luke Meade goal. Daniel Kearney then converted a sideline to leave Cork trailing by four at the break (2-11 to 1-10).
Cork outscored Clare 5-1 in the first ten minutes to level the contest. A Seamus Harnedy point gave Cork the lead for the first time after 48 minutes and the momentum switched in their favour.
By now Clare had started to empty their bench and a brace of point from Colm Galvin and Conor McGrath brought the sides level.
But their respite was short-lived. Bill Cooper made the drive before offloading to Seamus Harnedy, who blasted home what was effectively the winning score 11 minutes from the end.
Cork added a further 0-6 with Clare replying with four points. Though Ian Galvin goaled in the third minute of injury time to narrow the gap to just two points, they never looked like saving the game.