Dominant first half gets Clare over line
Clare 0-23 Cork 0-19
An 11-point half-time lead proved to be enough of a cushion at Cusack Park yesterday as Clare made it three hurling league wins in-a-row.
Leading by 0-16 to 0-5 at half-time in front of 4,905 people, the hosts never led by fewer than five points before a pair of Cork scores at the death reduced the gap to four, but the destination of the two points was not in doubt.
Nevertheless, Clare joint-manager Donal Moloney didn't feel that it had been too easy for his team.
"I wouldn't have called it comfortable," he said.
"The first half was really good, played some great hurling. But second half our conversion rate dropped a lot and it is something we will have to work on. But it is the middle of February.
"We still had a lot of possession but probably didn't convert, some near misses and maybe some wrong options but having said that Cork have a lot of quality players.
"They were going to come at you. There is no way we were going to continue whatever the score was at half-time. We weren't going to score 32 against them. They came right back at us and were probably unhappy with how the first half went."
Cork manager John Meyler agreed that the first half had left his team with too much to do.
"We didn't play at all for the last 20 minutes of the first half, that was really it," he said.
"It was a poor performance for 20 minutes, we didn't really play. Clare hit a purple patch and they got some really good scores, their support play was better, their touch was better, they were sharper."
Despite the large disparity on the scoreboard at half-time, there were a couple of turning points for Cork to reflect on. After a slowish start, a pair of Patrick Horgan points had brought them to within one, 0-5 to 0-4, by the 13th minute but a chance to level was squandered.
David McInerney was the shining light in a dominant Clare half-back line while Colm Galvin and Tony Kelly established a clear upper hand at midfield.
In the 22nd minute, good work from the excellent David Reidy allowed Michael O'Malley to open up a six-point lead, 0-10 to 0-4, before Cork had another good chance.
Tim O'Mahony's good ball out of defence found Robbie O'Flynn, whose pass from the right gave captain Séamus Harnedy a clear run on goal.
Goalkeeper Donal Tuohy rushed off his line and spread himself, getting an important touch on Harnedy's shot to send it just wide of the post.
Two more Clare points, from Galvin and John Conlon, extended the advantage to eight before Horgan finally ended a 19-minute wait for Cork's fifth score, but it was only a brief interruption to the Banner flow.
In the four minutes before half-time, the home side eased further clear, with Podge Collins, Galvin, Niall Deasy and Duggan on target, the latter shooting wide when given a chance to extend the lead to 12.
Reidy's second did make it 0-17 to 0-5 on the resumption, but Cork had more about them and they reeled off four on the trot, from Horgan (two frees), Tim O'Mahony and Robbie O'Flynn.
Clare wing-backs Michael O'Malley and Seadna Morey stemmed the flow as each scored their second point of the game and they almost had a goal as Niall Deasy's low shot needed attention from Anthony Nash.
Overall, the Banner's play wasn't as fluent and Cork did reduce the gap score by score, with Horgan's seventh point, another free, making it 0-19 to 0-13 on 51 minutes.
The timer on Clare's scoreless period was coming up on 13 minutes but Duggan, who had missed a couple of frees before that, nailed a fine effort from the left wing before Tony Kelly got his second and then Reidy scored his third after a brilliant catch and run.
Again, Cork reduced the margin to six and in the 65th minute they won a 20-metre free when sub Brian Lawton was fouled. Horgan went for goal but full-back Conor Cleary made a good stop and when the ball fell to Lawton, Tuohy was on hand to save well.
Horgan pointed the resultant 65 and then exchanged frees with Duggan. Clare sub Darragh Corry could have made the game safe but Nash's save denied him, and Jason McCarthy, another replacement, shot wide with the follow-up.
Nevertheless, victory was theirs. Next up for them is a trip to Innovate Wexford Park to take on previous manager Davy Fitzgerald.
"I am sure we will get a great welcome in Wexford," Moloney said, "it's always a daunting challenge to go into Wexford.
"They are playing really well. On Saturday night, I know Tipp won it but they put them under ferocious pressure and had a couple of goal opportunities that didn't work out. They were very much in that game and Davy has done some job with them."
Scorers - Clare: P Duggan 0-8 (6f, 2 65), D Reidy 0-3, M O'Malley, S Morey, C Galvin, T Kelly, J Conlon 0-2 each, N Deasy, P Collins 0-1 each. Cork: P Horgan 0-12 (9f, 2 65), D Browne, T O'Mahony, M Ellis, L Meade, R O'Flynn, S Harnedy, B Cooper 0-1 each.
CLARE - D Tuohy 8; P O'Connor 7, C Cleary 7, J Browne 7; S Morey 8, D McInerney 8, M O'Malley 9; C Galvin 8, T Kelly 7; N Deasy 7, J Conlon 8, D Reidy 9; S O'Donnell 6, P Duggan 7, P Collins 7. Subs: C Malone 6 for Conlon (51), C McGrath 6 for Collins (56), D Corry for Deasy (60), D Fitzgerald for O'Malley (65), J McCarthy for Galvin (66).
CORK - A Nash 7; S O'Donoghue 7, E Cadogan 7, C Spillane 6; C Joyce 6, T O'Mahony 7, D Browne 6; M Ellis 6, D Kearney 6; R O'Flynn 6, S Harnedy 6, B Cooper 6; L Meade 6, P Horgan 7, S Kingston 6. Subs: L McLoughlin 7 for Kearney (h-t), R O'Shea 6 for Kingston (45), J O'Connor 6 for Meade (46), B Lawton for O'Flynn (61).
REF - P O'Dwyer (Carlow).