Clare bridge 16-year gap after Shane O'Donnell becomes hat-trick hero
Clare 5-16 Cork 3-16
Clare captain Pat Donnellan promised an era of Banner dominance after lifting the Liam McCarthy Cup on a sensational evening in Croke Park.
Clare became the All-Ireland hurling champions for the fourth time after a stunning hat-trick from 19-year-old Shane O’Donnell sent the Banner supporters into ecstasy.
Davy Fitzgerald’s masterful decision to make a late switch paid huge dividends as O’Donnell swooped for a first-half hat-trick before finishing with an astonishing tally of 3-3.
The first-half echoed the first game as Clare burst from the traps, O’Donnell’s stunning hat-trick of goals in the 6th, 14th and 20th minutes fuelled a fiery Banner performance.
Cork had no answer to these opening blows and they struggled to compete in the middle third, although their forwards did much better than the last day from the limited scraps coming their way.
O’Donnell was a late inclusion as Darach Honan made way and he immediately justified his selection with a 2nd minute point but it were his goals which really rocked the Rebels.
Captain Pat Donnellan made the opener, bursting through a parting Cork defence before feeding the 19-year-old who had the easies of finishes to put his side 1-3 to 0-2 ahead.
His second came from a long ball in from Colm Galvin. Conor McGrath shimmied expertly past the flailing Conor O’Sullivan and spotted the unmarked O’Donnell, who again unerringly slotted home.
His hat-trick arrived with a sublime, batted finish to the net after Podge Collins won the break against a Cork defence which was struggling desperately to cope with the elusive front-runners.
And yet, despite scoring the goals that they couldn’t the last day, helping them into an eight-point lead by the 26th minute, Clare couldn’t shrug off a determined Cork, for whom Pat Horgan and Pa Cronin became more prominent as the half wore on.
A stunning reprise of Anthony Nash’s expertise from the 21-yard line (or the 13-yardb line) gave Cork a 17th minute lifeline.
Despite the attentions of some 13 Clare players on the goal-line, the Cork netminder somehow found a gap to keep his side in it.
They trailed by just four points at half-time, Shane O’Neill’s brilliant defence to prevent O’Donnell nabbing a fourth Clare goal ensuring Cork went into the break with their tails up.
They continued in this manner after the break as Clare visibly wilted, Cork levelling by the 53rd minute thanks mainly to Horgan’s accuracy from frees.
The pace couldn’t possibly match that of a first-half but the excitement for the 82,276 attendance remained undimmed.
Clare found a second wind as the final quarter began and three quick points pushed them ahead but there were more twists to come.
Cork’s Seamus Hrnedy stroked a goal home with nine minutes remaining to bring the sides level for the third time and the prospect of extra-time loomed large.
But then Clare struck gold once again, Conor McGrath bursting down the right-hand side to power home his side’s fourth goal to put them 4-13 to 2-16 ahead, a three-point lead.
Points by Kelly and O’Donnell pushed Clare five points ahead with as many minutes remaining.
Despite a last-gasp goal from Cork sub Stephen Moylan, Cork had no answer and Darach Honan’s late goal began the celebrations for his county’s fourth ever All-Ireland senior hurling title success.
Scorers - Clare: S O’Donnell 3-3, C Ryan 0-7 (7f), C McGrath 1-1, D Honan 1-0, T Kelly 0-3, J Conlon 0-2.
Cork: P Horgan 0-9 (8f), S Harnedy 1-2, S Moylan 1-1, C Lehane 1-2, P Cronin 0-1, L McLoughlin 0-1
Clare: P Kelly; D O'Donovan, D McInerney, C Dillon; B Bugler, P Donnellan (c), P O’Connor; C Ryan, C Galvin; J Conlon, T Kelly, C Ryan; P Collins, S O’Donnell, C McGrath.
Subs: C Mc Inerney for Galvin (53), N O’Connell for Collins (59), D Honan for O’Donnell (66), K Murphy for O’Donnell (67), S Morey for Kelly (70)
Cork: A Nash; S McDonnell, S O’Neill, C O’Sullivan; B Murphy, C Joyce, W Egan; L McLoughlin, D Kearney; S Harnedy, C McCarthy, P Cronin (c); L O’Farrell, P Horgan, C Lehane.
Subs: S White for Egan (23), S Moylan for O’Farrell (HT), T Kenny for Kearney (39), C Naughton for McCarthy (55)
Ref: J McGrath (Westmeath)