All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Qualifiers Round 2
Clare 0-17 Cork 0-20
— The42.ie (@The42_ie) July 11, 2015
It was a short enough summer for Clare GAA fans as far as Senior competition goes as the hurlers have followed the footballers out at the qualifier stage of the All Ireland series.
A spirited Cork side stood in the way of Clare in Thurles and they proved to be too much to handle in the last ten minutes when players like Patrick Horgan, Aidan Walsh and Seamus Harnedy stood up and were counted for the Rebels.
The sides were level eight times throughout the game, in which the big surprise was the lack of goals with the wealth of goalscoring power available to both teams.
The first half wasn’t overly packed with excitement as the respective teams and managements tried to figure out what way the opposition had set up.
The now expected ‘Sweeper’ role was in operation at both ends with Mark Ellis and Seadna Morey playing prominent roles throughout the match at either end.
Cork struck first within fifteen seconds through St. Ita’s man Seamus Harnedy, who appeared to have the beating of Cian Dillon on the edge of the square for much of the first half.
His opposite number, Shane O’Donnell, was equally as lively and had the scores levelled before the end of the first minute.
As Clare looked to move quick ball into the inside forwards, Cork opted instead to keep tapping the ball over the bar but not always with success.
The Banner men could have had a goal early but Conor McGrath’s pass was slightly behind O’Donnell whose touch couldn’t quite get the ball close enough to him to get a shot on target.
It was neck and neck throughout the first half with Clare edging away from Cork every so often only to be pulled back by Cork, who were greatly influenced by Horgan.
The Glen Rovers man may have hit a few poor wides in the first half but also scored four points and played a vital role in setting up three others out of the 0-10 Cork had at the break.
The Cratloe contingent on the team (McGrath and Conor Ryan) had Clare two clear at the half hour mark but Cork finished the half stronger and when Pat Cronin split the posts in the 37th minute, Cork went in leading by the minimum.
It had been a half of close calls for Clare with O’Donnell’s goal opportunity, a last gasp hook from Brian Lawton on Kelly when he had goal in sight and Cork’s dreadful shooting.
Aaron Cunningham was introduced at half time but failed to have the same impact on the game as he had when introduced against Limerick earlier this summer.
Cork’s Aidan Walsh, exuding confidence at wing back, opened the scoring in the second half before his half back partner, Cormac Murphy, got in on the act.
McGrath and Kelly (3) gained parity again for Clare after Bill Cooper had added another the Rebels tally.
As with Clare in the first half, Cork were the ones continuously getting the advantage but not delivering the killer blow and pushing out of reach.
Cronin and substitute Jamie Coughlan put them two clear of the Banner before a monster effort from David McInerney pulled it back to the minimum yet again.
That was the first of four-in-a-row for Clare as O’Donnell, Darach Honan and Colm Galvin all sent the ball sailing between Anthony Nash’s uprights without reply.
The momentum was with Clare and they appeared to be stepping into cruise control but a series of wides dented confidence and lifted the dropping Cork heads.
It remained 0-17 0-15 to Clare entering the final ten minutes until Horgan scored Cork’s first free of the second half.
Less than a minute later, Horgan sent another effort way up into the sky before it dropped down just over the crossbar to level it up for the eighth and final time.
Another brace from Horgan, one from a placed ball, pushed Cork away from Clare with time running out before Paudie O’Sullivan made sure that a goal would only force extra time for Clare.
Two more wides from Lehane and O’Sullivan, bringing Cork’s tally to 19, could have clinched it but there was one last half-chance for Clare.
McInerney, out in the left corner forward position, made his best effort to drive the ball low and hard in the general direction of the Cork goal to try and create something but he saw his effort waved wide and time was up.
Clare hit some bad wides when their tails were up midway through the second half that could have made their lead more formidable but the same has to be said for Cork in the first half. Tony Kelly once again showed why he was Hurler of the Year in 2013, while Seadna Morey was exceptional as the sweeper for Clare. The Sixmilebridge man won and distributed ball very well before his withdrawal. Shane O’Donnell’s ball winning and work rate was another plus but he was at times found in isolation and bottled up by Cork.
For Clare, attention turns to the u21 campaign which has been very fruitful for the county over the last number of years. It also means that the next round of the Clare Hurling Championship will be coming around a little bit sooner than expected.
Cork move on into an All Ireland Quarter Final (against a provincial final loser) with a very good win under their belt. Jimmy Barry Murphy will be delighted with the way in which Mark Ellis, Aidan Walsh, Patrick Horgan and co. took over when it was all hands on deck late in the evening.
Venue: Semple Stadium, Thurles
Clare: Patrick Kelly (Inagh/Kilnamona); David McInerney (Tulla) (0-1), Cian Dillon (Crusheen), Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge); Brendan Bugler (Whitegate), Conor Ryan (Cratloe) (0-1), Jack Browne (Ballyea); Patrick O’Connor (Tubber), Colin Ryan (Newmarket-on-Fergus) (0-2f); John Conlon (Clonlara), Tony Kelly (Ballyea) (0-5, 0-1f), Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge) (0-1); Darach Honan (Clonlara) (0-1), Shane O’Donnell (Eire Óg Inis) (0-2), Conor McGrath (Cratloe) (0-3).
Subs: Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones na Sionna) for Conlon (HT), Patrick Donnellan (O’Callaghan’s Mills) for Colin Ryan (43), Colm Galvin (Clonlara) (0-1) for Golden (49), David Reidy (Eire Óg Inis) for Morey (57), Conlon for Honan (67).
Cork: Anthony Nash (Kanturk); Damien Cahalane (St. Finbarr’s), Stephen McDonnell (Glen Rovers), Brian Murphy (Bride Rovers); Aidan Walsh (Kanturk) (0-1), Mark Ellis (Millstreet), Cormac Murphy (Mallow) (0-1); Daniel Kearney (Sarsfields), Bill Cooper (Youghal) (0-1); Conor Lehane (Midleton) (0-2), Patrick Cronin (Bishopstown) (0-2), Brian Lawton (Castlemartyr); Alan Cadogan (Douglas) (0-1), Seamus Harnedy (St. Ita’s) (0-2), Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers) (0-8, 0-5f).
Subs: Rob O’Shea (Carrigaline) for Kearney (43), Jamie Coughlan (Newtownshandrum) (0-1) for Cadogan (50), Paudie O’Sullivan (Midleton) (0-1) for Cronin, Darren McCarthy (Ballymartle) for Lawton.
Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath)