Clare’s defence of the Allianz National Hurling League got off to a far from convincing start as they lost out by seven points to Cork on Saturday evening.
Venue: Pairc Uí Rínn
Having played second fiddle for the majority of the contest, there can be no complaint on Clare’s behalf with the result. There will however be grievances with the below par performance from the Banner men.
Alan Cadogan captained Cork in the absence of Stephen McDonnell and he was first on the scoreboard less than a minute into the game. Clare had the next three opportunities and missed each one; they had to wait until the sixth minute to get off the blocks with Clonlara’s John Conlon opening their account.
Cork dominated the opening half and extended their lead to five points with twenty five minutes on the clock via scores from Patrick Horgan, Shane Kingston, Bill Cooper and Cadogan while David Reidy slotted over a placed ball for the visitors.
An alert Podge Collins finished a Tony Kelly rebounded shot past Anthony Nash to put some gloss on the scoreline and reduce the deficit to two points as the sides headed for the dressing rooms at half-time.
Several chances fell Clare’s way on the resumption, more than enough to put them in front but they failed to capitalise. A Tony Kelly penalty was saved by Nash who also managed to save a follow up strike from Aron Shanagher. Shortly after, Shane O’Donnell did beat the Cork netminder but he had overcarried the ball and referee John Keenan quickly and correctly pulled up the Ennis man.
Kieran Kingston’s were far more efficient in creating and taking chances over the seventy minutes. Daniel Kearney and Shane Kingston pointed several scores from all angles to ensure the Leesiders remained in control as Tony Kelly kept Clare’s account ticking over.
For the second time in over a fortnight, Cork pulled away from Clare with Patrick Horgan, Kingston, Luke Meade and substitute Dean Brosnan raising the white flags.
Prior to the throw-in, there was an error as the PA system began to play the Italian anthem as opposed to Amhrán na bhFiann which is ironic as the display that followed from Clare was one saturated with mistakes. Seven second half goal chances were spurned as the men in Saffron and Blue suffered their first League defeat in two years.
Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor’s first competitive game in charge will not be they will remember fondly but looking at the bigger picture there was a lot for the duo to learn from the game, the same applies for the players. They host Kilkenny next Sunday and a result is needed otherwise they will be piling pressure on themselves to remain in Division 1A.
Goalkeeper Donal Tuohy demonstrated the level of commitment required from inter-county hurlers. Earlier in the day he acted as Groomsman for his brother Alan’s wedding to Aisling Callinan. Donal was ferried from Crusheen to Cork and back to the Lady Gregory Hotel. His dedication and the fact that he collected clean-sheet will have impressed the Banner management.
Seven points separated the teams and the distance was so because Cork were quicker, sharper and more clinical in their hurling and everything that came with it. Kingston’s side are out to prove a point and so far are undefeated in 2017 county competitions.
For a team that competed in the relegation final last year, this win will give them a lift and they will be looking to continue this run of form when they host Dublin next Saturday. Alan Cadogan, Shane Kingston, Anthony Nash, Daniel Kearney and Mark Coleman did best for the Rebels.
Cork: Anthony Nash (Kanturk); Killian Burke (Midleton), Colm Spillane (Castlelyons), David Griffin (Carrigaline), Christopher Joyce (Na Piarsaigh), Mark Ellis (Millstreet), Mark Coleman (Blarney); Bill Cooper (Youghal) (0-01), Daniel Kearney (Sarsfields) (0-03), Seamus Harnedy (St Ita’s) (0-01), Luke Meade (Newcestown) (0-01), Shane Kingston (Douglas) (0-04); Alan Cadogan (Douglas) (0-04), Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers) (0-05 4f), Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville) (0-01). Subs: Chris O’Leary (Valley Rovers) for Ellis (59), Robbie O’Flynn (Erins Own) for Fitzgibbon (62), Lorcán McLaughlin (Kanturk) for Cooper (68) Paul Haughney (Midleton) for Kearney (71) , Dean Brosnan (Glen Rovers) (0-01) for Kingston (71)
Clare: Donal Tuohy (Crusheen), Jack Browne (Ballyea), Cian Dillon (Crusheen), Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge); Brendan Bugler (Whitegate), Conor Cleary (Kilmaley), Jamie Shanahan (Sixmilebridge); Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge), Tony Kelly (Ballyea) (0-06); John Conlon (Clonlara) (0-01), Podge Collins (Cratloe) (1-01), Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge); Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones na Sionna) (0-01), David Reidy (Éire Óg Inis) (0-02 1f 1’65), Shane O Donnell (Éire Óg Inis). Subs: Jason McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona) for Reidy (HT), David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona) for Golden (45), Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones) for Conlon (61).
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)