Saturday 21 July 2018

Pat Horgan on fire as storming Cork finish sees off Clare

Cork 0-20 Clare 0-17

Shane O'Donnell, Clare, in action against Mark Ellis, Cork.
Shane O'Donnell, Clare, in action against Mark Ellis, Cork.
Cork’s Aidan Walsh celebrates a late score during their SHC qualifier victory over Clare in Semple Stadium last night.

Jackie Cahill

REVENGE for 2013. Cork served a cold dish to Clare in last night's All-Ireland senior hurling qualifier at Semple Stadium. A run of five uananswered points down the home stretch transformed a two-point deficit into a three-point lead.

Clare, champions two years ago following that two-game epic against the Rebels, crash out in the qualifiers, as they did last year.

Davy Fitzgerald will insist his young guns can come again and they're certainly good enough to do so but this is a major setback. How severe the long term consequences are remains to be seen but Cork, beaten by Waterford in the Munster semi-final, are rejuventated and in the quarter-finals.

Horgan was the star turn, hitting three of his eight points from play.

The Leesiders hit 20 points but they had as many wides too. Clare were profligate themselves, registering 18 wides over the 70 minutes.

In the final 10 minutes, Horgan hit four of Cork's five points before Paudie O'Sullivan came off the bench to put them three clear.

There would be no rescue act for Clare this time, as there was two years ago. Their season is over, as Cork march on with a second win in as many weekends under their belt.

Reconfigured against Wexford seven days before, they adopted a similar gameplan last night and while the second half became a bit more open, Cork rarely looked like conceding the type of goal that ruined them against Clare in 2013.

Just a point separated the sides at the end of a fascintating first half, with Cork ahead by 0-10 to 0-9 in front of 25,245 spectators. It was an intruiging tactical battle, with both teams using sweepers and two-man full-forward lines and that ensured goal chances were at a premium. There were some sublime moments of skill nonetheless, most notably when Conor Lehane's audacious flick found Patrick Horgan in the 25th minute, before Lehane collected a return pass to fire over.

But Cork, playing into the diagonal breeze, were dreadfully wasteful in that first half, registering 11 wides.

Horgan was responsible for four of them, including three from play, but Alan Cadogan had a couple to his name too.

At the other end, Clare looked the more threatening in terms of goal chances but 2013 All-Ireland final hat-trick hero Shane O'Donnell was bottled up whenever he got close to goal.

A feature of the play in the first half was the amount of ball drifting out over the tramlines. Both teams were clearly keen to spread the play but many of the deliveries sprayed around the pitch were slightly overcooked.

Clare did put together the most eye catching piece of play for the best point of the opening half, however, as a series of 10-yard passes finished in the hand of Tony Kelly, who drilled over a 21st minute score.

Clare could, and should, have rattled the back of the Cork net as early as the ninth minute.

Conor McGrath had the chance to shoot inside the 20 metre line but elected to offload a pass to O'Donnell, who shot well wide on the turn. It was that kind of half for Clare, looking threatening without ever delivering a real punch.

The sides were level five times before half-time before Cork nudged ahead with a fine Patrick Cronin point in first half stoppage time.

From the start, it appeared that we were in for a real thriller as the sides traded points within the opening minute.

Man of the match Seamus Harnedy, so influential against Wexford last weekend, fired over Cork's opening point with just 17 seconds on the watch but O'Donnell replied for Clare 25 seconds later.

Approaching half-time, Clare did hold a two-point advantage, 0-9 to 0-7, but the Rebels finished strong with two Horgan frees, one from deep inside his own half, and Cronin's effort.

Cork were two clear early in the second half but Clare were on terms through Tony Kelly at 0-13 each, with the 2013 Hurler of the Year now thundering into the game.

They were level again at 0-15 each before Clare moved two clear, Darach Honan and sub Colm Galvin banging over points from play.

Back came Cork in a seesaw battle as Horgan, who had drifted out of the game, resurfaced with a brace of points, including a gorgeous score to tie the game at 0-17 apiece. But it was Cork who all the answers in the final minutes.

Scorers - Cork: P Horgan 0-8 (5f), P Cronin, S Harnedy & C Lehane 0-2 each, A Walsh, C Murphy, B Cooper, A Cadogan, J Coughlan & P O'Sullivan 0-1 each; Clare: T Kelly 0-5 (1f), C McGrath 0-3, Colin Ryan (2f) & S O'Donnell 0-2 each, D McInerney, Conor Ryan, S Golden, D Honan & C Galvin 0-1 each.

Cork: A Nash; D Cahalane, S McDonnell, B Murphy; A Walsh, M Ellis, C Murphy; B Lawton, D Kearney; B Cooper, P Cronin, P Horgan; A Cadogan, S Harnedy, C Lehane. Subs: R O'Shea for Kearney (43), J Coughlan for Cadogan (50), P O'Sullivan for Cronin (59), D McCarthy for Lawton (65).

Clare: P Kelly, D McInerney, C Dillon, S Morey; B Bugler, P O'Connor, J Browne; Conor Ryan, Colin Ryan; J Conlon, T Kelly, S Golden; D Honan, S O'Donnell, C McGrath. Subs: A Cunningham for Conlon (half-time), P Donnellan for Colin Ryan (43), C Galvin for Golden (49), D Reidy for Morey (57), J Conlon for Honan (67).

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath)

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