This Sunday sees the clash of Clare and Cork in the Munster Senior Football Semi-Final, The Clare Herald’s Páraic McMahon previews the action and takes a look at the latest meetings between the teams in the Munster Championship.
Expectation is born from past experience. It is the most recent experiences which have the greatest affect on expectations and through the application of this theory one comes to the conclusion that Cork are expected to overcome the challenge of Clare in Pairc Uí Rinn having had comfortable victories over the Banner in their last Munster Championship encounters.
Ironically it was the semi-final stage when Clare and Cork last crossed paths in the Munster Football Championship. Cork claimed a 1-20 to 1-11 win in the 2013 semi-final. Played in front of 3,774 in Cusack Park, the Rebels had a comfortable 0-07 0-00 lead with eighteen minutes played.
Under the stewardship of Conor Counihan, Cork cruised to victory and their dominance in the air was telling as they won 17 kickouts in comparison to Clare’s five in the first half while it was 14-9 for the second thirty five minutes. Clare had eight different scorers more than Cork’s seven but still not enough to cause an upset.
Daniel Goulding got the crucial goal for Cork while it was Gary Brennan operating on the edge of the square who raised a green flag for the Banner. Fourteen players who featured for the Leesiders remain from the 2013 semi-final whereas Clare have eight remaining survivors.
The game served as Mick O’Dwyer’s first and last Munster Championship game in charge of the Saffron and Blue; on the day his charges were gutsy and hard-working but it never looked like they would cause a shock which would help define Micko’s career. 2013 would finish in the qualifiers for Clare with a heavy defeat versus Laois while Cork came up short in both the Munster Final and All-Ireland quarter-final.
Munster Final days are to be savoured and cherished, heroes are made and folklore created; rewind to 2012 in the Gaelic Grounds and little of the above applies as Cork picked up their 37th Munster title with a 3-16 0-13 win over Clare. In the first Munster decider between the sides since 1949, it was Cork’s clinical nature aided by spurned goal chances on Clare’s behalf that saw the Rebels to victory.
Three first half goals via Fintan Gould, Aidan Walsh and Nicholas Murphy separated the sides at the interval. The greater pace and conviction of the Cork men allowed them rip through the Banner defence on numerous occasions in the first half. To their credit the Banner fought back in the second half but it was more a matter of cleaning up the wreckage.
The Rebels defence stood firm throughout with only three Clare forwards registering scores in comparison to all six Cork forwards picking up scores during the seventy minutes. Ten Cork players that picked up Munster medals at Clare’s expense are still on the panel while nine players in the Clare camp still sport the scars from the County’s first Munster final in twelve years.
Both panels have players that played some part in the 2012 and 2013 clashes and still remain, for Cork there’s seven survivors; Eoin Cadogan, Michael Shields, Fintan Gould, Daniel Goulding, Paul Kerrigan, Donnacha O’Connor and Alan O’Connor. Six Clare men were involved in both ties; Joe Hayes, Gordon Kelly, Shane McGrath, Rory Donnelly, Gary Brenna and David Tubridy.
Clare’s last win over the Rebels in the MFC was the 97 semi-final when current selector, Ger Keane had a big role to play in creating Martin Daly’s match-winner, that’s the only link to success over the Leesiders in the Banner dressing room, walk down the corridor to the Cork dressing room and no man has lost to Clare in the MFC.
That is bound to boost their confidence but it shows why Clare need to be fearless. Based on recent experiences between both, the expectation is a Cork win and therefore little fuss will be made if this does happen, if the reverse occurs, the reaction too will be opposite.