Sport Hurling

Thursday 22 February 2018

Anthony Daly: If Davy's men find even 92pc of drawn display, Cork will not stop them

Guinness All Ireland Hurling Final 1997. Clare'a Sean McMahon celebrates with team captain Anthony Daly after the final whistle
Guinness All Ireland Hurling Final 1997. Clare'a Sean McMahon celebrates with team captain Anthony Daly after the final whistle
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Anthony Daly

Replays are a funny animal. It's the same two teams again, usually all the same players. And this time it's the same pitch as well.

But so much is different. The psychology of a replay is different. The attitude of the players, too. And, ultimately, the result will be different, for I reckon Clare will be champions this evening.

Should Clare be here at all, though? There have to be thoughts going through Davy Fitz's head. Clare completely won the breaks, dominated everywhere, scored 25 points yet needed a last-gasp score to draw the first match.

With that in mind, have Clare a higher gear they can go to?

On the other hand, Jimmy Barry-Murphy will know his team were eaten up and, but for three raspers of goals, they couldn't compete anywhere with Clare on the field.

But despite all that, Clare know how good they are. They'll be saying, 'We're better than this crowd, we've proven it every time except June and we've improved since then. This is our scene, we're all U-21 champions and we have the measure of our opponents.'

Cork must do more than they did the last day to counter all that. Everyone will have told them they were terrible. That will help them. By picking Cian McCarthy over Jamie Coughlan, they're going for a more robust set-up. For it will be a robust game. I wouldn't be surprised if it was fairly borderline and referee James McGrath had to dish out a few early yellows.


Cork weren't bullied as such the last day but they certainly were second best in the collisions. But remember, Cork surprised Clare back in June with how physical they were. They'll be anxious to show that side of themselves again.

They have guys who'll be keen to stamp their authority on proceedings. The likes of Lorcan McLoughlin, Daniel Kearney. Seamus Harnedy, even though he got three points off his man. Cian McCarthy. Pa Cronin, who was dominated by Brendan Bugler.

The handshakes won't be as much fun as the last day. They may as well just give each other the aul' shoulder and let them on with it.

I've no problem with McGrath as the man in the middle, even if some in Cork have. Davy has flagged it already. Nobody wants to have a bad game, least of all the ref. The referee will want to be anonymous.

Okay, Cork got an unlucky break against Limerick when McGrath sent Pat Horgan off. But they've had a few lucky breaks since then.

There was a lot of talk before the last day that Clare wouldn't deploy the sweeper. A Saturday evening game means there's less talk around the city the night before in the pubs, so I'm not sure what Davy has up his sleeve.

I don't think he'll change. There's no reason to change. He got all the match-ups right the last day. His defenders need to be less jittery in defence and cut out those needless close-in fouls.

If they had scored one of their three goal chances, they would have won. It's that simple. I fancy Darach Honan to get a break this time around. That's all they needed the last day, an extra break.

Cork, as well as being more physical, will have to try things. Maybe they'll shift Conor Lehane and Harnedy out to the wing, shove Cronin inside. Clare had problems with the high ball against both Galway and Waterford this year. Cork also know if they run at them, they can cause problems. JBM will want Luke O'Farrell and Horgan to run at the Clare defence and force mistakes and fouls. Lehane has the jets if he gets the chance.

The referee can do little about those Anthony Nash penalties. Neither can Patrick Kelly! I remember being in the same position in goals against Declan Ryan – you wouldn't know whether to run away from him or run out to him!

Clare would surely like to put eight or nine players on the line if they could – it may be the only way to stop it, especially if Kelly isn't allowed to advance.

I just can't wait for this one, though. I'd say the teams would have preferred a two-week gap, three weeks is long enough.

The throw-in time is a bit weird. Clare will have an extra hour in their beds, while it's a long day hanging around the city for Cork after coming up last night.

Ultimately, the best team should win. Clare were a nice bit better than Cork the last day and nothing happened then to alter my view. If they play to even 91 or 92pc say of that level, and score 1-20, that should be enough. Once they don't concede three goals, mind.

Irish Independent

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