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All-Ireland SFC: Cork register victory in Ennis

Brian McNamara, Clare, and Maurice Shanley, Cork, in All-Ireland SFC action at Cusack Park. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Brian McNamara, Clare, and Maurice Shanley, Cork, in All-Ireland SFC action at Cusack Park. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

All-Ireland SFC Group Three

Cork 1-13 Clare 1-11

By Eoin Brennan at Cusack Park

Cork’s experienced bench came to their rescue to ignite their All-Ireland Senior Football Championship challenge in front of 3,262 in Cusack Park, Ennis.

Having seen a six point advantage eventually reeled in by hosts Clare entering the final quarter at 1-8 apiece, John Cleary wisely looked to fresh legs to get his side over the line as replacements Steven Sherlock and Mark Cronin both kicked braces to finally see off an obstinate Banner side.

Having been edged out by the minimum in last year’s Munster Quarter-Final at the same venue, the Rebels were forearmed this time around as they hit the ground sprinting and indeed never trailed at any stage of the contest.

Raiding for the first three points through Conor Corbett, Colm O’Callaghan and Brian Hurley, the visitors were also bolstered by a 16th minute goal for Sean Powter who expertly flicked O’Callaghan’s excellent delivery over onrushing goalkeeper Stephen Ryan at 1-4 to 0-1.

A surprisingly lacklustre Clare did keep in touch with a trio of Emmet McMahon frees, but failed to score from play by half-time whereas in contrast all of Cork’s total stemmed from play at 1-6 to 0-4.

Eager to redress the balance, Clare were far more recognisable on the restart as Daniel Walsh kicked a brace of early points to sandwich a decisive Cork goal chance that agonsingly came back off the crossbar.

Chris Óg Jones’ counter was centred to Brian O’Driscoll to flick off the woodwork, a miss that would be magnified when Aaron Griffin punished with a goal up the other end only five minutes later.

Manus Doherty’s trademark back-to-front run down the left was unloaded to Griffin whose ground shot nestled into the bottom left corner of the Cork net to cut the deficit to just one at 1-7 to 1-6 by the 43rd minute.

Brian Hurley did resist with a free but a momentum-fuelled Clare finally made up the ground with successive placed balls for Emmet McMahon and Ciaran Downes by the 57th minute.

Just regaining parity clearly took a lot out of the home side, who were ultimately powerless to stop Cork’s reinforcements from snatching back the whip hand for the Rebels in the remaining 15 minutes.

A Tommy Walsh fisted point edged them back in front before substitutes Sherlock and Cronin cooly restored a three point cushion by the 73rd minute.

There was a nervous moment when Dermot Coughlan’s last gasp delivery had to be scrambled over the bar by Cork goalkeeper Christopher Kelly.

Overall, however, it was a merited opening victory for John Cleary’s side who now welcome the Ulster champions Donegal in a fortnight’s time while the Banner make the equally long trip to Tyrone in search of redemption.

Scorers for Cork: Sean Powter 1-0, Brian Hurley 0-3 (1f), Paul Walsh, Steven Sherlock (1f), Mark Cronin (1f) 0-2 each, Conor Corbett, Colm O’Callaghan, Chris Óg Jones, Tommy Walsh 0-1 each

Scorers for Clare: Emmet McMahon 0-5 (5fs), Aaron Griffin 1-0, Daniel Walsh, Ciaran Downes (1f, 1’45) 0-2 each, Jamie Stack and Dermot Coughlan 0-1 each.

Cork: Christopher Kelly; Kevin Flahive, Daniel O’Mahony, Tommy Walsh; Maurice Shanley, Rory Maguire, Matty Taylor; Ian Maguire, Colm O’Callaghan; Paul Walsh, Sean Powter, Brian O’Driscoll; Chris Óg Jones, Conor Corbett, Brian Hurley

Subs: Mark Cronin for Powter (56), Steven Sherlock for Jones (59), Ruairi Deane for Corbett (59), Eoghan McSweeney for Hurley (67), John O’Rourke for P. Walsh (74)

Clare: Stephen Ryan; Manus Doherty, Cillian Brennan, Ronan Lanigan; Ikem Ugwueru, Cillian Rouine, Alan Sweeney; Darragh Bohannon, Brian McNamara; Gavin Murray, Dermot Coughlan, Daniel Walsh; Emmet McMahon, Aaron Griffin, Ciaran Downes

Subs: Micheál Garry for Sweeney (33, inj), Einne O’Connor for Murray (52), Jamie Stack (for Downes (58), Joe McGann for Griffin (67), Mark McInerney for Rouine (73)

Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)