Sherlock homes in on silverware with late strike
Cork 3-13 Clare 3-12
Having led by 10 points at one stage in the first-half, Cork eventually had to perform a late, smash-and-grab display to edge a valiant Clare side and claim the spoils in Mallow on Saturday.
"Every piece (silverware) counts," said Cork's new manager Ronan McCarthy when addressing the importance of the win.
"We got a good game from a good side that are well managed. We had some errors, lost momentum, but ultimately got out of it with a win. The real positive is that we may find ourselves in a situation during the year that we are down four or five points with a few minutes to go and we now know we can do it."
Any questions about the importance of the McGrath Cup to Cork were again clearly answered as captain Jamie O'Sullivan lifted the trophy.
"As long as I am the manager of the team we will be involved in this competition. I see great benefits from the point of competitive matches and getting match fitness into the legs while also getting to see players in tough games," said McCarthy.
The Rebels won in the most dramatic fashion, winning thanks to an injury-time goal from corner-forward Stephen Sherlock.
The visitors fought back from 10 points down to put themselves in the driving seat late on, but Sherlock's last-minute intervention meant the Banner's wait for this particular trophy will be extended past the decade mark.
A brace of early Cork goals looked to have ended Clare's chances against a Rebels side that fielded a host of unfamiliar names.
The home side found the net in the fifth minute when Mark Collins got on the end of Kevin Crowley's surging run to score, before Sherlock rounded his man to finish past Killian Roche.
Cork wasted plenty of goal chances and were made to pay on the stroke of half-time when Keelan Sexton finished to cut the gap to seven points (2-08 to 1-04).
Clare started the second-half stronger and had the game down to just two points thanks to a goal from centre-forward Alan Sweeney.
The Banner men found the net again in the 52nd minute through Eimhin Courtney and led heading into the final minutes, but the last-minute goal and a point from Sherlock sealed the win.
Scorers - Cork: S Sherlock 2-3 (3f), M Collins 1-1; M Hurley 0-4, C Vaughan 0-3 (1f), D O'Callaghan, C Kiely 0-1 each.
Clare: E Courtney 1-3; C Finucane 0-6; K Sexton, A Sweeney 1-0 each, D Bohannon, C O'Connor (45), G O'Brien 0-1 each.
CORK: M White; S Ryan, C Dorman, M McSweeney; P Clancy, K Flahive, C Kiely; J O'Sullivan, D O'Callaghan; S White, K Crowley, M Hurley; C Vaughan, M Collins, S Sherlock. Subs: C Dorgan for C Vaughan (inj)(35), I Maguire for C Dorman (52), J O'Rourke for K Crowley (52), R Deane for M Collins (53), S Powter for D O'Callaghan (54), D Quinn for S White (56).
CLARE: K Roche; E O'Connor, C Brennan, G Kelly; T Hannon, A Fitzgerald, J Malone; S O'Donoghue, C O'Connor; P Lillis, A Sweeney, K Malone; E Courtney, K Sexton, C Finucane. Subs: E Collins for J Malone (inj)(9), G O'Brien for T Hannon (ht), D Egan for K Malone (ht), D Bohannon for S O'Donoghue (ht), M O'Leary for A Sweeney (61), J Culligan for E Collins (61).
REF - S Mulvihill (Kerry)