Swagger back for Cork as Patrick Horgan sinks Clare
Cork 1-24 Clare 0-17
A strong second-half display saw Cork finish with 10 points to spare on Clare in this Allianz Hurling League Division 1A clash last night.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy and his selectors opted against wholesale changes to the team, but three alterations from the Cats loss, with Lorcan McLoughlin, Robert O'Shea and Luke O'Farrell coming in, indicated an acknowledgement that something different was required.
Clare, still without Tony Kelly, started with Conor McGrath in reserve, but their side contained enough household names to be considered a threat and in the early exchanges they looked to be living up that billing.
While a Patrick Horgan free opened the scoring for Cork, Clare responded with four on the trot, Colin Ryan with two placed balls while Bobby Duggan and John Conlon also got in on the act.
Cork could have wilted, but midfielders Daniel Kearney and Aidan Walsh began to get a foothold and Horgan began to gear up for what would prove to be a virtuoso performance.
By the 11th minute, they were level, Horgan having converted a free after Alan Cadogan was fouled and then Cadogan getting in on the act. At the time, it didn't look to have unduly affected Clare as Ryan, Brendan Bugler and Colm Galvin eased them clear again but then Cork hit upon a real purple patch.
They were level at 1-6 to 0-9 on 22 as Luke O'Farrell, who scored a goal off the bench against Kilkenny, repeated the feat with a crashing finish after Conor Ryan had blocked his first effort.
Conlon did put Clare back in front but from there, Cork cut loose, with an increased tempo to their game. Daniel Kearney had a super point after he won a ball against the head and then O'Farrell and Cormac Murphy, with a long-range effort, tacked on more.
Horgan was twice denied a goal in quick succession by Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly and the premature substitution of his marker Domhnall O'Donovan indicated the damage he was causing.
When Horgan added two more in the 31st and 33rd minutes, Cork were four ahead, 1-11 to 0-10. Though Clare had come to within three by half-time, the momentum was firmly with the hosts, and they built upon that as the second half dawned. Where's Clare's play early on had been crisp and structured, now they were made to look pedestrian as Cork morphed from careless and aimless to focused and energised.
The outcome was secured in the first 20 minutes of the second half, with Cork outscoring their opponents by 0-8 to 0-3. There wasn't too much that was spectacular, but, more hearteningly for the management, there was a lot which was done in a simple and effective manner and it yielded rewards on the scoreboard.
Clare were not completely over-run, but a strenuous Cork defensive effort saw chances limited. Even so, the visitors did manage to fashion a couple of goal opportunities and, if they had been converted then the complexion of the game would have changed completely.
As it was, they found Cork goalkeeper Anthony ash in impenetrable form. First, he pulled off a wonderful double-save, first from Galvin and then Conlon.
Colin Ryan converted the 65 which accrued and then moments later Clare sub Conor McGrath found himself with a sight of goal but once more Nash was alert and able to divert the ball to safety.
That signalled the end of the game as a contest and Cork played with a swagger for the closing quarter of an hour. Conor Lehane scored a couple of fine points and Horgan stockpiled before departing the scene to a standing ovation with five minutes left.
Scorers - Cork: P Horgan 0-14 (0-8f, 0-1 65), L O'Farrell 1-1, C Lehane 0-3, C Murphy, D Kearney, A Walsh, S Harnedy, A Cadogan, A Nash (f) 0-1 each.
Clare: Colin Ryan 0-8 (0-5f, 0-2 65), J Conlon 0-3, B Duggan, C Galvin 0-2 each, P O'Connor, B Bugler 0-1 each.
Cork: A Nash; D Cahalane, C Joyce, C O'Sullivan; L McLoughlin, M Ellis, C Murphy; D Kearney, A Walsh; C Lehane, S Harnedy, R O'Shea; A Cadogan, L O'Farrell, P Horgan. Subs: P Cronin for O'Shea (12-16, blood sub), S Moylan for O'Shea, Cronin for Walsh (both 59), A Spillane for Horgan (66)
Clare: P Kelly; D O'Donovan, C Dillon, J Browne; Conor Ryan, C Cleary, P O'Connor; B Bugler, C Galvin; P Donnellan, Colin Ryan, B Duggan; D Reidy, S O'Donnell, J Conlon. Subs: C McGrath for Reidy (half-time), S Golden for Cleary, A Cunningham for Donnellan (both 52), C O'Connell for Duggan (64).
Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).
Sunday Indo Sport