Sunday 20 January 2019

Clare capture the McGrath Cup for the first time in 11 years with victory over the Rebels

Clare 1-9 Cork 0-9

Gary Brennan of Clare in action against Nathan Walsh of Cork during the McGrath Cup Final match between Cork and Clare at Hennessy Park in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Gary Brennan of Clare in action against Nathan Walsh of Cork during the McGrath Cup Final match between Cork and Clare at Hennessy Park in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Gerry Quinn

Clare overcame Cork at Miltown Malbay today to capture the McGrath Cup and gain revenge for a one point loss to the same opposition in last year’s decider.

This was the Banner county’s thirteenth time to take the title but the first since 2008. As expected, both sides fielded experimental starting line up with Cork’s Ronan McCarthy and Clare’s Colm Collins, the respective managers eager to give new talent a chance ahead of the forthcoming National Football League. In fact these two teams will face each other again, in Round 3, in Division 2 of the League.

Clare had the better of the opening half exchanges going in 1-3 to 0-3 ahead at the break. A strong mist and greasy underfoot conditions made flowing football almost impossible. Nevertheless both sides served up reasonably entertaining fair. The opening score didn’t arrive until the fifth minute when Cork left-half-forward Cian Kiely lofted over a good point from the left flank. Both teams were aware of the new experimental rules, especially in regard to the three maximum hand-pass rule. In fact referee Padraig O’Sullivan only awarded one free throughout the opening half for a breach of the regulation. There were three infringements over the course of the game.

Clare grabbed their opener in the eight minute through corner-back Gordon Kelly. The Miltown clubman appeared to be attempting for a point from about 45 meters but his shot dipped at the last minute and deceived goalie Chris Kelly, ending up in the back of the net. In a low scoring first half Cork kicked two further scores, through free-taker Shane Sherlock, while Clare added a pair of long-range frees by Cathal O’Connor and team captain Gary Brennan.

The tempo of the game increased almost immediately from the re-start. Clare captain, Gary Brennan, who started at full-forward was moved out the field. He immediately pounced on a ball on the left wing setting off on a solo run. He kicked a fine point to put four between them. Substitute Keelan Sexton added another Clare score before the Rebels hit a purple patch, scoring five on the trot to level matters by the fifty-first. Mark Collins grabbed two, as did sub

Damien Gore plus another by centre-forward Eoghan McSweeney. Sexton for Clare and Cork’s Peter Kelleher exchanges points as the game headed in to the latter stages. But it was the home side who finished with a stronger hand. Sexton had two more, one from play and another from a free and when wing back Dean Ryan fisted over the Cork cross-bar in injury time, the Éire Óg club man ensured that the McGrath Cup was back in the Clare for the first time in eleven years.

Scorers

Clare: K Sexton (0-4), 3 f’s, G Kelly (1-0), C O’Connor (0-2) f’s, G Brennan (0-2), D Ryan (0-1).

Cork: S Sherlock (0-2) f’s, M Collins (0-2) D Gore (0-2) 1 f,1 f, E McSweeney, C Kiely, P Kelleher (0-1) each.

Teams

Clare: E Tubridy, K Harnett, C Brennan, G Kelly, D Ryan, A Fitzgerald, E Collins, D Bohannon, C O’Connor,C O’Dea, D O’Halloran, D Coughlan, G Cooney, G Brennan (Capt.), K Malone.

Subs, S O Donoghue for O’Halloran (h/t), K Sexton for Cooney (h/t), G O’Brien for Malone (46), D Tubridy for Bohannon (56), S Collins for Coughlan (56).

Cork: C Kelly, S Ryan, P Murphy, A Browne, L O’Donovan, T Clancy, S Cronin, (Capt.), J Fitzpatrick, R O’Toole, J O’Rourke, E McSweeney, C Kiely, M Collins, P Kelleher, S Sherlock.

Subs,D Gore for Sherlock (41),N Walsh for Ryan (51), K O’Donovan for O’Rourke (51), T Corkery for Kiely (59), B Murphy for Cronin (66).

Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry)

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