Tuesday 23 January 2018

Clare retreat to the shadows with another qualifier defeat

Mark Ellis, left, and Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash celebrates their side's victory
Mark Ellis, left, and Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash celebrates their side's victory

John Mullane

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but the question I asked myself after Saturday's victory for Cork is would they have beaten Clare in the 2013 All-Ireland final by using a sweeper system?

This is what they've been crying out for and after losing a few big games, they've finally decided to go with the flow.

The new-look Cork emerged in Wexford and they found their feet big time on Saturday against Clare.

Mark Ellis was excellent in that sweeper role, Aidan Walsh superb too and Patrick Horgan showed huge leadership in that final 10 minutes.

Cork were crying out for the switches I suggested in a previous column and while I can understand Clare's decision to bring out a corner-forward around the middle third, you don't bring Conor McGrath out.

Ok, he scores three points but he's one of the best finishers in the country and using him as an auxiliary midfielder was unwise.

The Clare hurling public will ask questions about what direction this team is heading in now. It's the second successive season in which they've failed to reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals and considering the array of talent at the county's disposal, that's a poor record.

Davy has stated that he'll decide whether he feels like committing for another year. He'll take a few weeks out to consider his options and he'll ask the players whether they feel he is the man to bring them forward or not.

The loss of Paul Kinnerk was huge this year. He was the mastermind of All-Ireland U21 and senior winning teams and his absence from the set-up has been keenly felt.

If Davy stays on, he'll want Kinnerk back involved in 2016.

For Cork, yesterday's Munster Final result will provide them with huge motivation.

Victory over Galway would provide a chance to gain revenge on Tipperary for last year's heavy All-Ireland semi-final defeat.

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