Tuesday 20 February 2018

Rebels cruise past Clare to set up Kingdom showdown

Cork 1-20 Clare 1-8 Munster SFC semi-final

Gary Brennan, Clare, in action against Alan O Connor, left, and Kevin O Driscoll, Cork
Gary Brennan, Clare, in action against Alan O Connor, left, and Kevin O Driscoll, Cork
Brian Hurley, Cork, in action against Martin McMahon, Clare
Colm O'Neill, Cork, in action against Gordon Kelly, Clare
Sean Collins, Clare, in action against Conor Dorman, Cork
Brian Hurley, Cork, in action against Ciaran Russell, Clare

By and large, it was fairly comfortable for Cork as they saw off Clare at Pairc Ui Rinn yesterday.

It took a while for the Rebels to get going - Pat Burke's point had Clare 0-2 to 0-1 in front after seven minutes - but eventually they prevailed by 12 points, having enjoyed a half-time lead of 0-8 to 0-4.

Cork manager Brian Cuthbert was happy to have progressed, but was left with a sour taste following the manner in which it was communicated by the GAA that Jamie O'Sullivan was suspended for the clash.

"The fact that the player only finds out on Wednesday that he's suspended. . . Jamie's preparing for a Munster championship game and then all of a sudden we're notified that he's suspended, six or seven weeks after the incident took place?" he fumed.

"We knew Clare would go for it, and they were unfortunate not to get a goal. But it gave us a start, and from there on I thought we were in control of the game."

Clare captain Gary Brennan shot wide with a goal chance inside a minute and Burke's point gave them a lead that was both unique and fleeting. Cork began to find their feet.

The returning Alan O'Connor settled in well at midfield alongside Kevin O'Driscoll and, though, Clare brought men back, the hosts were able to play their way around the massed ranks.

Brian O'Driscoll, who had scored their first point, landed a boomer to level on nine minutes before Donncha O'Connor added a pair and then Brian Hurley, with a wonderful effort, and Colm O'Neill (free) had them four in front.

O'Neill should probably have added a goal after good work by Colm and Kevin O'Driscoll but his shot fizzed just wide.

Donncha O'Connor came in along the line to make it 0-7 to 0-2 and, though Gary Brennan and Cathal O'Connor sandwiched a Mark Collins point to leave four in it, Cork finished the half well.

O'Neill converted two frees to put them 0-10 to 0-4 in front and they added five more on the trot at the outset of the second period, Paul Kerrigan adding his name to the scorers.

Again, Clare had had a goal chance immediately after the throw-in, Keelan Sexton the player to miss this time, but Cork were fully in control now.

The lead had extended to 0-16 to 0-5 when Cathal O'Connor gave the Banner some consolation, firing past Ken O'Halloran from Eoin Cleary's lay-off, but Cork quenched any brief hopes of an unlikely fightback.

Sub Fintan Goold fisted over straight after his introduction and O'Neill's fifth point left 10 points in it again before Clare full-back Kevin Hartnett was deemed to have blocked Collins' shot with his foot, referee Joe McQuillan awarding Cork a penalty.

Donncha O'Connor stroked that past Hayes and another Cork sub, John Hayes, pointed too to make it 1-19 to 1-5.

Hayes would get their last point and Jamie Malone, David O'Halloran and Cathal O'Connor had late points for Clare, but it was mere window dressing.

Brennan finished the game as he started it, missing a goal chance, O'Halloran saving well from him this time, and Cork saw the game out safely.

They will be under no illusions that bigger tests await, though. Clare manager Sean Collins took heart from his side's display.

"I was with the stats guys in the stand, and the only area where there's a glaring difference between the two teams was shooting efficiency," he said.

"You have to put your chances away against the Division 1 teams. If you don't you're in deep trouble."

Scorers - Cork: D O'Connor 1-5 (1-0 penalty, 0-3fs), C O'Neill 0-5 (4fs), M Collins, J Hayes (1f), B O'Driscoll, P Kerrigan 0-2 each, B Hurley, F Goold 0-1 each. Clare: C O'Connor 1-2 (0-1 '45'), G Brennan 0-2 (0-1f), D Ryan, J Malone, P Burke, D O'Halloran 0-1 each.

CORK - K O'Halloran 7; C Dorman 6, M Shields 7, J Loughrey 6; S Cronin 7, Brian O'Driscoll 7, Barry O'Driscoll 6; A O'Connor 8, K O'Driscoll 6; C O'Driscoll 6, M Collins 7, P Kerrigan 6; C O'Neill 7, B Hurley 6, D O'Connor 8. Subs: P Kelly 6 for Hurley (49), R Deane 6 for A O'Connor (54), F Goold 7 for C O'Driscoll (54), Tomás Clancy for Dorman (57), J Hayes for D O'Connor (60), P Kelleher for O'Neill (68).

CLARE - J Hayes 7; S Hickey 6, C Russell 7, K Hartnett 6; D Ryan 6, G Kelly 6, M McMahon 7; G Brennan 6, C O'Connor 8; K Sexton 6, J Malone 6, S Collins 7; R Donnelly 6, E Cleary 7, P Burke 6. Subs: C Dunning 6 for Donnelly (h-t), C O'Dea 6 for Cleary (53), D O'Halloran for Burke (57). Ref - J McQuillan (Cavan).

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