Sunday 17 December 2017

Barry-Murphy delighted with 'reaction' from Rebels

Cork 1-24 Clare 0-17

Patrick Horgan, Cork, strikes a free
Patrick Horgan, Cork, strikes a free
Conor Lehane, Cork, in action against Jack Browne, Clare
Alan Cadogan, Cork, in action against Jack Browne, Clare
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

On Saturday night, Pairc Ui Rinn rattled with an urgency nowhere to be seen seven days earlier.

An understrength Kilkenny left with the spoils that night without much of a lick on them, despite what the scoreline suggests.

With Cork setting up shop at Pairc Ui Rinn while Pairc Ui Chaoimh is being revamped, something had to change. Cork didn't sparkle from the off. If anything, they were second best early but a Luke O'Farrell goal after 22 minutes reinvigorated their challenge.

It was the second time in seven days O'Farrell found the net. He was a little fortunate to regain possession after his initial effort was well blocked by Conor Cleary but he made no mistake the second time around to bring the sides level.

The full-forward line who were effectively wiped out by Kilkenny, looked a different unit. Led by Horgan, who was one of a handful of outstanding performers on the night, they had Cork purring now.

The Glen Rovers man pointed every dead ball that came his way and finished with 14 points. With Alan Cadogan, who is seemingly made of rubber, bouncing and weaving his way through Clare defenders alongside him, the Rebels began to look more threatening.

Collapse

By half-time, they were 1-12 to 0-12 to the good. And having suffered a third-quarter collapse against Kilkenny that saw them outscored by six points to one, they set the tone after the restart.

As the game wore on, Cork looked more confident and Clare ran out of ideas. Jimmy Barry-Murphy's decision not to make wholesale changes to the side looked vindicated.

He had made just three alterations, rewarding O'Farrell for his goal-scoring intervention and introducing Lorcan McLoughlin and Rob O'Shea, and they looked comfortable.

At the back, Christopher Joyce superbly marshalled Shane O'Donnell. Aidan Walsh looked more at home at centrefield while Cork enjoyed a physical advantage in most areas of the field.

Clare managed just five points after the restart, with only two coming from play.

By the end, the Rebels had opened up a ten-point advantage, leaving Barry-Murphy pleased with the response from his side.

The only black spot was the withdrawal of Horgan with a hamstring injury, but Cork officials insisted that was only precautionary.

"We were very disappointed, ourselves and the players, with the performance last week," said Barry-Murphy.

"From that point of view we were looking for a reaction. I'm thrilled with the way they played. I couldn't be happier."

And while the likes of Conor Lehane, Seamus Harnedy and Horgan all showed tremendous pieces of skill at various times, the Cork manager pointed out that it was application and work rate that was the fundamental. Function came first and style followed.

"Backs are often dependent on the kind of ball coming into them. We worked on that this week, to minimise the quality of the ball coming in on our backs," he said.

"It can be a funny time, some players don't perform well but luckily enough the conditions were good. We were very flat last Saturday, and we were much better this week."

Despite still being February, this was a high-stakes games. Both sides came in on the back of a loss. Barry-Murphy can now look forward to a trip to Croke Park to face Dublin in a fortnight's time.

"We have quite a break to the championship so we'd love to qualify for the knock-out stages," he said.

"But it's a difficult division, as we know - you lose a couple of games and you could face relegation. It happened us a couple of years ago, though we still made it to the All-Ireland final.

"The games are quality, they keep you going and you learn more about your players."

On the other hand, Davy Fitzgerald welcomes Tipperary to Ennis in what amounts to a do-or-die game. Tony Kelly and David McInerney could be back for that clash.

"If we don't win the Tipp game we are going to be fighting relegation. We know that. That's going to be a massive game in Ennis," said the Clare manager.

"I'm disappointed for some of the crowd that travelled down. We really wanted to play well and we didn't so I'm disappointed. We're a bit off the track at the moment.

Different

"But you have to say Cork. . . I watched them last week, were a completely different team.

"It's very disappointing. We don't like beating beaten by 10 points. Certainly it's hard. Because the lads have been training very hard. I'm not going to lay a finger of blame on them.

"It's not acceptable to be beaten like that. All I can assure you is that if we meet again, I promise you that will not happen."

Man of the Match: Patrick Horgan (Cork)

SCORERS - Cork: P Horgan 0-14 (9f, 1 '65), L O'Farrell 1-1, C Lehane 0-4, D Kearney, A Nash (1f), S Harnedy, C Murphy, A Cadogan 0-1 each. Clare: Colin Ryan 0-8 (5f, 0-2 '65), J Conlon 0-3, B Duggan, C Galvin 0-2 each, B Bugler P O'Connor 0-1 each.

Cork - A Nash 8; D Cahalane 7, C Joyce 8, C O'Sullivan 7; L McLoughlin 7, M Ellis 7, C Murphy 7; D Kearney 7, A Walsh 7; C Lehane 8, S Harnedy 8, R O'Shea 7; A Cadogan 8, L O'Farrell Subs: S Moylan 7 for O'Shea, P Cronin 7 for Walsh (both 59), A Spillane for Horgan (65).

Clare - P Kelly 7; D O'Donovan 6, C Dillon 6, J Browne 7; C Cleary 7, Conor Ryan 7, P O'Connor 6; B Bugler 6, C Galvin 7; P Donnellan 6, Colin Ryan 7, B Duggan 7; J Conlon 8, S O'Donnell 6, D Reidy 5. Subs: S Morey 7 for O'Donovan (33), C McGrath 6 for Reidy (ht), S Golden 6 for Cleary, A Cunningham 6 for Donnellan (both 51), C O'Connell for Duggan (64).

Ref - J Ryan (Tipperary)

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