Sport Hurling

Wednesday 17 January 2018

With bright stars like Murphy on board, Rebels will be back

John Mullane

CORK defender Shane O'Neill may have lost his All Star on Saturday.

And the player who probably took it from him is his team-mate Brian Murphy.

Murphy may have played only three championship games, all against Clare, but he was fantastic in them. He was handed the onerous task of marking arguably Clare's two best forwards of the year – Tony Kelly (twice) and Podge Collins. He did a fantastic job.

Credit to Cork for getting this far. I wrote them off earlier in the year. I just couldn't see them making any sort of championship impact, but the Rebels made me eat my words.

Many may now feel that they'll struggle to get back to the business end of the championship again next year, but I disagree.

They showed incredible character to come back from eight points down, but Clare also possess that particular ingredient in abundance. And if a team is a mirror image of its manager, that was certainly true in Clare's case.

All through the summer, their ability to hit back from potentially devastating setbacks during the course of games is one of their real strengths, particularly when goals are scored against them.

Cork couldn't edge ahead at any stage of the game and, if they had, it might have been a different story.

Right at the death, there was almost another massive twist when Seamus Harnedy passed to Cathal Naughton, but the ball was fumbled.

Right until the very end, the championship summer hummed with drama and if next year is even half as good, we're in for a treat.

I did say way back that I felt Clare would have a really good summer. I didn't think they'd win the All-Ireland, but I did mark them down as potential Munster champions.

Now, they're the ones that everybody else has to catch. The hunters will become the hunted and that's a new challenge. But, for now, it's time to savour it.

Irish Independent

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