Saturday 21 July 2018

Watch: Cork unleash second half salvo to retain Munster title at Clare's expense

Cork 2-24 Clare 3-19

Seamus Harnedy of Cork is presented with the trophy by Munster Chairman Jerry O'Sullivan after the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Cork and Clare at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Seamus Harnedy of Cork is presented with the trophy by Munster Chairman Jerry O'Sullivan after the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final match between Cork and Clare at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

CORK are the kingpins of Munster hurling again after silencing the Banner roar for a second successive season in Thurles.

The Rebels changed manager since last year's five point final triumph over Clare, but John Meyler retained essentially the same personnel and they delivered again in front of a near sell-out attendance of 45,363 to extend Clare's provincial championship famine.

It was Cork's 54th Munster title and the first time since 2005-2006 that they have retained the crown. The victory secured them passage to the All-Ireland semi-final but unless they start delivering in Croke Park the significance of this success will be diminished.

It was a bitterly disappointing afternoon for Clare, though they are still in the All-Ireland series – they will meet either Wexford or Westmeath in the All-Ireland quarter-final in two weeks' time.

Though they lost to the Rebels in the first round of the Munster series six weeks ago such was their resurgence in form since that they had genuine hopes of ending their dismal record in provincial finals against Cork.

This was their 11th loss to Cork in a Munster final – they haven't beaten them in a decider since 1932 and they last won a provincial title in 1998. Although they conceded 1-1 in the dying minutes of the first half having played against the breeze they were four points clear at the break.

But they failed to get any traction at all in the second half as Cork took control in all sections and long before Seamus Harnedy's 59th minute goal they were all at sea and with key figures such as Tony Kelly and John Conlon failing to fire after the break their cause was lost and Ian Galvin's goal deep in injury time was nothing more than a consolation score.

The scorched earth surface in Semple Stadium appeared to disorientate the players throughout the first half with an inordinate number of sidelines – 21 in total with six in the first four minutes alone and the early exchanges were incredibly scrappy.

Predictably, Clare targeted Antony Nash's puck-out and prevented him from going short with them. The Rebels had the advantage of a strong breeze which enabled him to go with long his re-starts but they also had a limited return with his team mates only securing primary possession from seven of his 17 first half puck outs.

At the other end Clare full forward John Conlon was on fire and by the end of the first quarter when he had hit four points from four shots. Cork opted to move Damien Cahalane to the corner with Colm Spillane moving to mark the Clonlara ace.

But Conlon continued to make a telling impact; he was pulled down by Spillane after 23 minutes - which had it happened in football would have merited a black card for the defender and by half time Conlon had stamped with class on the contest with a 0-5 return from play.

Cork were very dependent on Patrick Horgan to keep the scoreboard ticking over in the first half – he hit six first half points including two delightful efforts from play.

Clare led 5-3 after 13 minutes but the sides were level after 16 before the Banner struck for their first goal – which could have been taken straight from the training grounds.

Donal Tuohy directed a short puck-out to Jamie Shanahan who linked up with Tony Kelly and he powered through the Cork defence before off loading to David Reidy who blasted past Anthony Nash.

Conlon immediately added a point to extend their lead to four for the first time. The teams shared eight points during the next ten minutes before the game finally caught fire just before the break.

In the 33rd minute a long free from Donal Tuohy was flicked to the Cork net by Peter Duggan and Conlon added his fifth point immediately afterwards to extend their lead to eight points.

Cork badly needed a response and in came seconds before the break with a Luke Meade goal which was set up Seamus Harnedy after he caught Nash's puck out. Daniel Kearney then converted a sideline to leave Cork trailing by four at the break (2-11; 1-10).

Cork were late reappearing for the second half but looked rejuvenated as they outscored Clare 5-1 in the first ten minutes to level the contest. Darragh Fitzgibbon led the revival as Clare struggled to win their own puck-out for the first time.

A Seamus Harnedy point gave Cork the lead for the first time after 48 minutes and Clare's cause wasn't helped when Peter Duggan miscued two frees. The momentum of the game had now switched completely in Cork's favour and although David Reidy hit a badly need point for Clare in the 52nd minute – their first from play in the half – Patrick Horgan replied immediately immediately for Cork.

By now Clare had started to empty their bench and a brace of point from Colm Galvin and Conor McGrath – who had replace an out of form Shane O'Donnell - brought the sides level.

But their respite was short-lived. After Peter Duggan's missed another chance – Clare hit eight second half wides compared to two for the winners - half Cork attacked down the right flank.

Bill Cooper made the crucial drive into the heart of the Clare defence before off loading to team captain Seamus Harnedy who blasted home what was effectively the winning score 11 minutes from the end of normal time.

Essentially that effectively ended the game as a contest though as the game opened up Cork added a further 0-6 with Clare replying with four points.

Though substitutes David Fitzgerald and Ian Galvin combined in the third minute of injury time for the latter to drive the sliotar to the roof of the Cork net to narrow the gap to just two points – they never looked like saving a game in which Cork's remarkable turnaround in the second half was the primary talking point.

 

Clare: D Tuohy; P O'Connor, D McInerney, J Browne; J Shanahan C Cleary, S Morey; C Galvin (0-1), C Malone; P Duggan (1-7, 6f), T Kelly (0-1), D Reidy (1-2); P Collins (0-2), J Conlon (0-5), S O'Donnell. Subs: J McCarthy for Malone 50m; C McGrath (0-1) for O'Donnell 53m D Fitzgerald for Shanahan 61m; D McCorry for Reidy 63m; I Galvin (1-0) for Cleary 67m;

Cork: A Nash; S O'Donoghue, D Cahalane, C Spillane; C Joyce, E Cadogan, M Coleman (0-2,1 sideline); D Fitzgibbon (0-2), B Cooper (0-1); L Meade (1-1), S Kingston, D Kearney (0-2), P Horgan (0-11, 6f, 1 65), C Lehane (0-1), S Harnedy (1-4). Subs; R O'Flynn for Kingston 61m: M Cahalane for Meade 64m; L McLoughlinfor Kearney 65m

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)

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