Sheehan sparkles as Cork claim minor title on glory day for Rebels
Cork 4-21 Clare 0-16
Cork manager Denis Ring delivered a warning based on bitter experience after watching his young stars batter Clare by 17 points to claim Electric Ireland Munster minor hurling glory at Semple Stadium yesterday.
Ring was also involved in 2005 when the Rebels claimed a big Munster final victory, against Limerick, but they were caught by Galway in an All-Ireland semi-final. He will be keen to ensure that lightning doesn't strike twice, but on yesterday's evidence Cork will take some stopping in the race for September glory.
This was their third game in 11 days, but after finally seeing off last year's provincial and All-Ireland winners Tipperary on Monday night, in a semi-final replay, the Rebels completed the provincial job six days later.
They looked fresh and hungry in spite of that hectic recent run and had match-winners in Evan Sheehan and Daire Connery.
Sheehan was the player who took the original Tipp game to a replay, with a goal deep in stoppage time at the end of extra-time, and while the Na Piarsaigh starlet was taken off in both games against the Premier County (he was brought back on in the drawn game), Ring had a feeling he'd deliver a big final.
That he did, as Sheehan scored 2-2 and walked off with the Man of the Match award.
"We know the calibre of player he is - we were just waiting for it to happen," said Ring.
"If you were privy to our conversation during the week, that's what we kept reckoning, that he was the man who was going to do it."
It was Cork's first Munster title in the minor grade since 2008, and their 33rd all told.
Clare manager Sean Doyle conceded: "The best team won on the day, we can't take anything away from Cork."
Sheehan grabbed the headlines with his scoring haul, and he netted in the 17th and 21st minutes to help propel Cork into a 2-11 to 0-7 interval lead.
Clare struggled to cope and while Tiarnán Agnew kept them ticking over with placed balls in the first-half, the Banner boys were over-run.
Sub Killian McDermott scored three points for Clare, but Cork had big displays from the Sheehan, midfielder Connery and skipper Sean O'Leary Hayes.
Cork's third goal arrived 19 minutes from time, as sub Barry Murphy latched on to Liam O'Shea's perceptive crossfield ball before finishing well.
Robert Downey put the icing on the cake in stoppage time to collect Cork's fourth goal.
Cork march on to an All-Ireland semi-final on August 13, as Clare lick their wounds ahead of the quarter-finals.
An elated Ring admitted Cork had benefited hugely from two classic shoot-outs against Tipp.
"They did, anything that doesn't kill you will make you stronger. Their commitment, effort, everything has been absolutely remarkable."
Scorers - Cork: E Sheehan 2-2, D Connery 0-6 (5f), R Downey 1-2, B Murphy 1-1, B Turnbull 0-4 (2f), L O'Shea 0-2, S O'Leary Hayes, C Hanafin, B Roche & B Buckley 0-1 each.
Clare: T Agnew 0-7 (6f), K McDermott 0-3, C Minogue 0-2 (1f), D Ryan, A McCarthy (f), K White & R Considine 0-1 each.
Cork: G Collins; C O'Callaghan, S O'Leary Hayes, E Roche; A Walsh Barry, J Keating, G Millerick; B Roche, D Connery; D Lenihan, C Hanafin, E Sheehan; B Turnbull, R Downey, L O'Shea. Subs: B Murphy for Lenihan (ht), D Hanlon for Hanafin (48), R Howell for Walsh Barry (48), B Buckley for O'Shea (52), D Jones for B Roche (57).
Clare: E Foudy; B Higgins, R Hayes, C McInerney; C Minogue, D Ryan, A McCarthy; K White, L Brack; T Agnew, R Considine, E Fitzgerald; G Cooney, C Tierney, B Horner. Subs: K McDermott for Brack (ht), C Haugh for Considine (35), G Cahill for Fitzgerald (39), P Corry for Horner (46).
Ref - J Murphy (Limerick)