Diarmuid Ryan the hero as Clare book Munster SHC final place with titanic win over Cork

Clare 2-22 Cork 3-18

David Fitzgerald of Clare is tackled by Brian Roche of Cork during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 4 match at Cusack Park in Ennis, Clare. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Colm Keys

How fitting it was that this game ended with the ball in Diarmuid Ryan's hand as Clare booked their place in a second successive Munster hurling final.

A titanic tussle in this fourth round Munster SHC game was largely defined by the Cratloe wing-back's long range shooting, his four points helping the home side to a one-point win that assures a place in the provincial decider in three weeks time and led to joyous Cusack Park scenes with 18,659 crowd rocking along to the anthems blaring out over the sound system at the end in celebration. It was quite the atmosphere.

Clare led for much of it but stubbornly, Cork refused to yield and when Patrick Horgan rounded David McInerney on 64 minutes and stuck a shot beneath Eibhear Quilligan, it restored parity again, 2-17 to 3-14, and put the pressure back on Clare.

But they responded and it was McInerney who atoned for being slipped by Horgan with two of Clare's next three points as they re-established control.

But Cork got level again through Horgan from a free and substitute Shane Kingston, as referee Johnny Murphy indicated a further four minutes of added time.

You could cut the tension with a knife in what remained and as David Fitzgerald and Horgan again, from an 85-metre free this time, traded points a draw looked likely.

But then Quilligan cleared his lines calmly to Ryan who, from his own half, landed a monster score to ensure a third successive Munster Championship win for Clare over Cork.

Clare were never behind in the second half and they established a firm footing midway through the first half.

They appeared to set a tone inside the opening minute when Tony Kelly and Ryan Taylor whipped over points for an early platform that was quickly wiped out.

Eventually Cork got on top through a Conor Cahalane goal on eight minutes, Brian Roche getting a block on an attempted John Conlon clearance, allowing Horgan to nip in and send Cahalane away for a 1-4 to 0-4 lead.

They might have had another three minutes later when Roche put in Conor Lehane but Quilligan made the save at the expense of a 65 which Horgan sent wide.

Cork stretched their lead to four points by the 16th minute when Horgan pointed a free after referee Johnny Murphy spotted from distance a jersey pull on Seamus Harnedy by Conor Cleary.

Cleary would retire with an arm injury late in the half but by then the momentum was all with Clare by then as Cork scored just two further points in the second quarter from Horgan and Roche.

They were level on 22 minutes through Tony Kelly and he really stepped it up and finished the half strong with 1-4, the goal on 29 minutes a decisive score.

From Ryan's delivery into a full-forward line where Clare were having much success, the ball broke behind and Kelly was quickest to react, batting over Patrick Collins for a 1-10 to 1-7 lead.

By the break Clare had edged 1-13 to 1-8 ahead and they got further impetus after the break when Kelly converted a penalty after Ciaran Joyce had brought down Shane O'Donnell.

That put them eight points clear, 2-13 to 1-8 but Cork kept pressing with Brian Roche and Darragh Fitzgibbon particularly effective around the middle and Joyce sitting back to keep the defence much tighter than it was.

Cork had a penalty when substitute Seadna Morey took down Kingston but a poor Horgan strike was saved by Quilligan on 46 minutes. However, from the rebound Declan Dalton finished and it was back to a four-point game, 2-14 to 2-10.

Clare showed a lot of character to see out the game from here as Cork brought them back level three times in the closing stages with missed frees from Kelly and Duggan, after Aidan McCarthy had gone, adding to the pressure.

Scorers -

Clare:T Kelly 2-4, (1-0 pen), D Ryan 0-4, A McCarthy 0-3 (2fs), D McInerney, R Taylor, S O'Donnell, D Fitzgerald all 0-2 each, M Rodgers, S Morey, P Duggan all 0-1 each

Cork:P Horgan 1-9 (0-6fs), D Dalton 1-1 (0-1f), C Cahalane 1-0, S Harnedy, B Roche, D Fitzgibbon all 0-2 each, D Cahalane, S Kingston both 0-1 each.


Clare:E Quilligan; A Hogan, C Cleary, R Hayes; D Ryan, J Conlon, D McInerney; C Malone, R Taylor; D Fitzgerald, A McCarthy, S O'Donnell; M Rodgers, P Duggan, T Kelly. Subs: S Morey for Cleary inj (34), I Galvin for Rodgers (47), A Shanagher for McCarthy (54), S Meehan for Galvin (68)

Cork:P Collins; N O'Leary, D Cahalane, S O'Donoghue; T O'Connell; C Joyce, R Downey; B Roche, L Meade; D Dalton, D Fitzgibbon, C Lehane; C Cahalane, S Harnedy, P Horgan. Subs: S Kingston for Lehane (43), S Barrett for C Cahalane (46), G Millerick for O'Connell (47), T O'Mahony for Meade (62), B Hayes for Dalton (68)

Referee:J Murphy (Limerick)