Sport Hurling

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Banner fightback stuns Cork

CLARE 1-22 CORK 1-16

AFTER a dismal first half Clare awoke from their slumber last night.

Cork led by five points at the break but, with seven minutes left, the crowd was streaming out of the ground as Colin Ryan's free-taking and goalkeeper Patrick Kelly's excellence steered the Banner to their second win of the league.

It was an important victory and they actually won pulling up. They were absolutely anaemic in the opening half but, as the game went on, their half-back line dominated and players such as John Conlon, Tony Kelly and Nicky O'Connell joined their free-taker and goalkeeper in the list of main performers.

By the end of the game they were bossing it – a huge turnaround from the first period. Shane O'Donnell's goal near the end sealed the win but they had been edging further in front by the minute.

It is a setback for Cork. They should have been way ahead at the break but failed to make possession count and, Patrick Horgan and Lorcan McLoughlin apart, they lacked leadership as the game entered its defining stage.

Clare were dependent on Conlan's physicality but their forward line were kept out of the game for the first 35 minutes, save for Colin Ryan who shot a number of frees and hit two fine points from play.

In truth, though, the first half lacked genuine quality. Cork should have been out of sight but instead they only led 0-12 to 0-7. The home team hit 11 first-half wides, with Clare racking up nine, and a number of times players from either team misjudged the flight of the ball under the floodlights.

Pa Kelly made a top-class save from Stephen Moylan after 13 minutes, which brought the crowd to life. Until then it had been a battle of the respective free-takers, Horgan and Colin Ryan.

It was soon Anthony Nash's turn to make a brilliant save – he batted away a dangerous, speeding Conlon rasper, which hopped right in front of him after 21 minutes.

As the sides traipsed into the dressing-room Davy Fitzgerald's men would have been counting their blessings that they weren't further behind. A much greater second half was expected.

As Clare went a little more direct, points from Tony Kelly and Patrick O'Connor after the restart gave them a fighting chance. Fitzgerald took off Enda Barrett and brought in the powerful Fergal Lynch to beef up their attack.

While Horgan kept the scoreboard ticking over, Clare did manage to pick off a few scores from loose Cork marking and midfielders O'Connor and Conor Ryan were on hand to make the home team pay in that regard.

Colin Ryan's accuracy, meanwhile, continues from the placed ball and he reduced the deficit to just two points, 0-15-0-13 with 20 minutes left.

But Clare edged in front as the Cork supporters grew more vocal. Kelly was then forced into his second outstanding save of the day as he blocked a pile-driver from Paudie O'Sullivan. Amazingly, Horgan then missed his first free of the day as Nicky O'Connell and Conlon put their side three points up. Momentum had swung in a short space of time.

Scorers – Clare: Colin Ryan (0-12, 9f), T Kelly (0-4), S O'Donnell (1-0), J Conlon (0-2), P O'Connor (0-1), Conor Ryan (0-1), N O'Connell (0-1), D Honan (0-1); Cork: P Horgan (0-9, 8f), L O'Farrell (1-0), S Harnedy (0-2), L McLoughlin (0-2), P O'Sullivan (0-2), D Kearney (0-1)

Clare: P Kelly, D O'Donovan, D McInerney, S Morey, B Bugler, P Donnellan, N O'Connell, P O'Connor, Conor Ryan, Colin Ryan, T Kelly, E Barrett, S O'Donnell, J Conlan, P Collins. Subs: F Lynch for E Barrett (38), C Galvin for P Collins (49), C McInerney for Conor Ryan (61), D Honan for S O'Donnell (67)

Cork: A Nash, S O'Neill, B Murphy, C O'Sullivan, C Joyce, P Cronin, W Egan, D Kearney, L McLoughlin, C McCarthy, P O'Sullivan, S Harnedy, S Moylan, P O'Brien, P Horgan. Subs: C Lehane for S Moylan (50), L O'Farrell for P O'Brien (56), T Kenny for D Kearney (59), C Naughton for S Harnedy (60)

Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary)

Irish Independent

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