Munster SHC Final - Cork outclass Clare
Munster Senior Hurling Championship Final
CORK 1-25 CLARE1-20
By John Harrington at Semple Stadium
Cork’s Rebels are an established power of the game once more.
This Munster Hurling Final victory over Clare confirmed the class that was already apparent in their wins over Tipperary and Waterford.
They were made fight to the finish by a doughty Clare team that summoned a late rally, but in the dying minutes Cork asserted themselves once more to finish with a flourish.
It was fitting that late points from Patrick Horgan and Alan Cadogan not only made the result safe but will live long in the memory too.
That were both highly impressive throughout, hitting a combined 1-17, and generally running rings around the Clare defence whenever they got their hands on the ball.
Clare just didn’t quite have the same cutting edge on a day when their shooting was more than a little askew.
Even Tony Kelly was afflicted by this malaise, hitting five of their 15 wides, though in his defence he was also one of their better players on the day too, hitting three points from play.
Right from the start, it looked like both teams were afflicted by big-match nerves as they struggled to settle into their normal, attacking rhythm.
Handling errors and poor shooting quickly became two of the central themes of the match, though both defences should be commended too for putting the opposition forwards under pressure.
Of the two sides, it was Cork who were looking both more composed and clinical.
Cadogan was on fire from the off, and after scoring the first point of the match he then hit the first goal too in the 13th minute.
Luke Meade picked him out with a nice pass and Cadogan’s first instinct was to immediately bore towards goal.
His lightning pace took him clear of the Clare cover defence, and he then lanced a super shot low to the bottom right-hand corner of the Clare net.
Clare had a chance to score a goal of their own shortly afterwards when they won a penalty after Shane O’Donnell was hauled own, but Tony Kelly’s fiercely struck effort was somehow deflected up and over the bar by Anthony Nash.
Energised by their goalkeeper’s heroics, Cork suddenly took a firm grip on the contest and outscored Clare by seven points to two over the course of the remainder of the half.
Conor Lehane scored his one and only point of the day, the impressive Darragh Fitzgibbon got one too, and Horgan and Cadogan looked after the rest.
A Conor McGrath point gave Clare the perfect start to the second-half, but thereafter Cork assumed control again and looked to be skating towards a comfortable win when they moved 1-16 to 0-12 ahead by the 52nd minute.
Manned by dominant figures like Mark Coleman, Colm Spillane, and Mark Ellis, their impressive defence was totally on top by now, and you really wouldn’t have given Clare much of a chance of fighting their way back into the contest.
But they did, and the initial surge of momentum they so badly needed was provided by Conor McGrath when he struck a fierce drive to the bottom left-hand corner of the Cork net past Nash.
Suddenly we had a contest on our hands again, a fact underlined when Patrick Horgan and John Conlon exchanged brilliant points to send the temperature of the game soaring.
The outstanding Mark Coleman looked like he’d settled the contest when he followed up a brilliant point from a sideline cut with one from open-play, but still Clare refused to buckle.
Scores from Kelly and McGrath made it a two-point game in the final minute of normal-time, but Clare couldn’t find the one final kick they needed.
Instead it was Cork who put their foot on the gas by scoring three points in injury time, one of them a brilliant score from Horgan after a scarcely believable sprint half the length of the pitch by Cork full-back Damien Cahalane.
The Rebels finished the game in the same way they’ve hurled throughout this Championship campaign thus far – with some style.
They’ll rightly feel there’s no reason why they can’t go on from here and win the Liam MacCarty Cup too.
Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-13 (10f), Alan Cadogan 1-4, Seamus Harnedy 0-2, Mark Coleman 0-2 (1 sideline), Shane Kingston 0-1, Luke Meade 0-1, Darragh Fitzgibbon 0-1, Conor Lehane 0-1
Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 0-10 (6f, 1pen) Conor McGrath 1-1, John Conlon 0-2, Jason McCarthy 0-1, David McInerney 0-1, Seadna Morey 0-1, Colm Galvin 0-1, Podge Collins 0-1, Aron Shanagher 0-1, Aaron Cunningham 0-1.
CORK: Anthony Nash; Stephen McDonnell, Damien Cahalane; Christopher Joyce, Mark Ellis, Mark Coleman; Bill Cooper, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Seamus Harnedy, Conor Lehane, Shane Kingston; Alan Cadogan, Patrick Horgan, Luke Meade. Subs: D Kearney for Kingston (57), L O’Farrell for Fitzgibbon (61), M Cahalane for Meade (66).
CLARE: Andrew Fahy; Seadna Morey, David McInerney, Patrick O’Connor; David Fitzgerald, Conor Cleary, Oisin O’Brien; Colm Galvin, Cathal Malone; Tony Kelly, Padraic Collins, John Conlon; Shane O’Donnell, Aron Shanagher, Conor McGrath. Subs: J McCarthy (0-01) for O’Brien (33), D Reidy for Collins (h.t.), C Dillon for O’Connor (43), A Cunningham (0-01) for Shanagher (60), P Duggan for Malone (66).
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary)