Clinical Rebels avenge All-Ireland defeat to reach Munster decider
Cork 2-23 Clare 2-18
Cork consigned Clare to the qualifiers for the second successive season as they powered past the All-Ireland champions in Thurles to book their place in the Munster final.
The Rebels came into the game hoping to build on their performance against Waterford in the quarter-final replay and that is exactly what they did as they set-up a Munster final date with Limerick yet again.
The opening exchanges were frantic and both sides got off the mark through dead-balls, with the accurate duo of Colin Ryan and Pat Horgan exchanging points.
Clare’s wing-forward John Conlon got the first score from play with a long distance effort and the Rebels captain was beginning to become a central figure in proceedings and would end the first half with an impressive 1-08.
The Cork attack was looking more like the unit that dismantled the Deise with Horgan, Conor Lehane and in particular Alan Cadogan prominent. Lehane demonstrated his skill in abundance with a score to put Cork in the lead 0-6 to 0-05 with a flick over Cian Dillon’s head as both sides settled into a rhythm.
Clare for their part were up for the challenge, with Colm Galvin fending off Cork challenges to take a score while John Conlon, who had been quiet in the early stages, scored an exquisite point from the right hand side from a narrow angle much to the delight of the Banner support.
Clare corner-back Jack Browne was having a difficult time keeping tabs on Cork dynamo Cadogan, conceding a number of frees and ending the half with a caution. Horgan proved deadly accurate over the paced balls, while full-back Damien Cahalane hit an inspirational score from full-back to claim his first ever championship point for the hurlers.
Ill-discipline was costing the Banner dearly and Horgan made Davy Fitzgerald’s side pay the ultimate price just after the half-hour mark after Browne had fouled Cadogan outside the 20 metre line.
The corner-forward stepped up and hit a pile-driver into the net to give Cork a five-point lead, with the subsequent free pushing it out to six with the interval looming.
The All-Ireland champions responded in style with Conlon giving Clare a lifeline, finding the net after the Rebels were unable to clear the ball bobbling around the goalmouth.
The second half resumed in a similar fashion to the first with Horgan again converting a free.
The introduction of Seadna Morey couldn’t curb the influence of Cadogan who popped over his first of the second half after Clare hit a couple of quick scores.
Aidan Walsh, who demonstrated his aerial prowess on a number of occasions swung over a classy point from the touchline and Horgan kept the pressure up with frees, though Cian Dillon had kept the Glen Rovers man scoreless from play.
The Cork midfield was utterly dominant and Daniel Kearney joined his centre-field partner on the scoreboard with two points in succession to stretch the lead to seven.
Substitute Nicky O’Connell and Cathal McInerney raised white flags after their introduction while McGrath reduced arrears even further.
That momentum was stopped emphatically when the Rebels awarded a penalty after Brendan Bugler felled Seamus Hernedy and a penalty was awarded.
All eyes were on Anthony Nash, but the Kanturk man remained in goals as Horgan stood over the ball, which was placed a couple of yards behind the 20 metre line.
His shot was again unstoppable and substitute Paudie O’Sullivan raised a huge cheer when he pointed soon after replacing Daniel Kearney who had run himself into the ground for Jimmy-Barry Murphy’s team.
Darach Honan did his claims for a starting position no harm with a consolation goal in the last minute, but at that stage the contest was over and Barry-Murphy will not be plotting another revenge act as they look to atone for last year’s provincial defeat to the Treaty men.