Cork put an end to Clare’s Munster title aspirations in Semple Stadium on Sunday when they finished strongly to win by five points.
Munster Senior Hurling Championship Final. Cork 1-25 Clare 1-20
Championships are won by teams with the luck, daring and speed to score when opportunities arise, Cork had all three. Clare’s luck ran out in a Munster final that might yet serve as a precursor to another game later in the year.
Clare retreated and at times appeared to have three sweepers with nobody to hit the ball to while their most potent forwards appeared like extra defenders. The game was seconds old when Alan Cadogan sent the ball whistling over the bar.
Tony Kelly sent over Clare’s opening Clare point before Seamus Harnedy floated over Cork’s second score before Cathal Malone set up Seadna Morey for the equaliser. Patrick Horgan sent Cork ahead after 9 minutes.
Fortune favoured the rebels with a major let off in the space of a minute. Firstly, Cathal Malone’s kicked effort hit the crossbar and was sent over on the rebound by Podge Collins. From the puck out Alan Cadogan goaled for Cork in the 11th minute.
Two Tony Kelly scores by the 16th minute narrowed the deficit to the minimum. Clare had a second goal chance when Shane O’Donnell won a penalty however Kelly’s effort drifted over the bar. Conor Lehane pointed at the other end to maintain Cork’s lead after 22 minutes of good fast tactical hurling.
Darragh Fitzgibbon, Horgan (2) and Cadogan hit the target as Clare stumbled all over the field between the 24th and 30th minutes allowing Cork to go 1-8 to 0-6 clear. Jason McCarthy entered the fray for Oisin O’Brien who had struggled with Alan Cadogan.
John Conlon and Tony Kelly added points but Patrick Horgan scored a brace, Cork’s record scorer had them 1-10 to 0-8 ahead at the break. David Reidy entered at midfield replacing Podge Collins as Aron Shanagher was first on the score board for the new half.
Patrick Horgan continued his rich vein of form before David McInerney’s booming effort from half way narrowed the lead to four points. Both sides matched each other for scores with Shane Kingston, Tony Kelly, Horgan and Colm Galvin hitting the target by the 44th minute.
Cork added points from Horgan (2) and Luke Meade to lead by 1-16 to 0-12 with twenty minutes left to play. Kelly pointed from play before John Conlon set up Conor McGrath for a well taken goal to breathe life into a faltering Clare challenge.
When Kelly pointed in the 55th minute, just two points divided the sides, but Cork never looked under pressure and soon they rebuilt a five point lead courtesy of Horgan (2) and Harnedy. Clare brought Aaron Cunningham on for Aron Shanagher in the final ten minutes and he pointed with his first touch before Martin Coleman drew a huge cheer from the Cork crowd with a successful sideline cut.
A Coleman point from play a minute later and one from Jason McCarthy kept the scoreboard ticking over as the Bannermen were pounding ball down on the Cork rearguard looking for goal number two. Two frees from Tony Kelly narrowed the gap to a goal and when Conor McGrath hit over a great score from play Cork looked threatened for the first time but in the true form of champions elect they stormed back with the three scores from Horgan (2) and Alan Cadogan. The pair ended the game with a combined tally of 1-17.
Best for Cork included Damian Cahalane, Chris Joyce, Mark Coleman, Alan Cadogan, Seamus Harnedy, Patrick Horgan, Anthony Nash and Stephen McDonnell. Clare tried hard and now meet Tipperary in the qualifiers. They must work at getting ball into the forward line or else the seven points conceded directly from the puckouts could be repeated.