So close . . . but so far away for Cork and Clare
Last-gasp point in thriller earns second chance for Banner
The hurling championship that just keeps on giving will provide another twist in a little less than three weeks' time when Cork and Clare meet again in the second successive All-Ireland final replay.
The match has been fixed for Saturday, September 28, because the ladies' finals are scheduled for the following Sunday and will not be changed – unlike last year.
A €2m pay day is an unexpected bonus for the GAA as attendances will soar towards 1.5 million on the back of Domhnall O'Donovan's last-gasp equalising point for the Banner yesterday.
O'Donovan, Clare's corner-back, had never scored a championship point before but watched with relief as the ball sailed over Anthony Nash's crossbar 29 seconds after the two minutes of added time indicated by referee Brian Gavin had elapsed.
"It was a bit of hit and hope," said the match hero afterwards. "I hit it falling over. I didn't see the ball too much as it went over. I just heard the crowd, so thankfully, I knew then that it was saved."
It was relief for Clare, who had dominated and led from the first few minutes with a performance of superior pace and energy.
Cork had only scored one goal all season but bagged three in the second half and looked like winning it when Patrick Horgan sent over a point to lead for the first time on 70 minutes.
"I think we were the better team today," mused Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald. "It would have been a travesty if we had lost it, but we are happy to get the draw in the end, being a point down a minute and a bit into injury-time."
The Rebels rode their luck when full-back Shane O'Neill escaped an obvious red card for a wild pull across Clare full-forward Darach Honan's head in the 16th minute.
Because referee Gavin is deemed to have dealt with the incident, O'Neill is clear to play in the replay.
Honan admitted to being "dizzy" after the blow but suggested it hadn't impacted on his performance.
"Ah, I won't go into it too much. We both got yellows, but I didn't feel I deserved a yellow anyway. I was a bit dizzy there for a while but I'm grand now. It's nothing too serious," Honan said.
Fitzgerald stopped short of criticising Gavin for his handling of the game but made veiled reference to him afterwards, saying: "There is only one fella you (can) ask that and I won't mention his name. We should've been up more than two (at half-time). Anyone with a pair of eyes out there would know what the story is."