All of 40 years ago, 1977 and 1978, Clare last lost two successive finals to Cork albeit in the National League. Fast forward to 2018 and expectations were running high. But in two defining moments, either side of half-time Cork laid claim to this Munster hurling final.
Munster Hurling Final: Cork 2-24 Clare 3-19
With the benefit of hindsight, the fall out from defeat will always highlight whether or not the management were indecisive in making necessary changes during the 70 minutes.
While it was disappointing to lose to the Rebels on one of hurling’s biggest days, it was not all doom and gloom for Clare who finished strongly with Galvin’s goal narrowing the deficit.
Peter Duggan doubles on a high ball from goalkeeper Donal Tuohy to score Clare’s second goal.
Thurles was buzzing with an exuberant 45,364 supporters as Clare dominated the opening half. While the game was tied on 5-points apiece after 15 minutes Clare looked more than capable of emerging as winners.
Their high point came when Tony Kelly raced through the centre with David Reidy on his shoulder before handpassing to the Éire Óg man who finished to the net past Anthony Nash for the game’s first goal.
John Conlon added a point before Cork rallied admirably. Reidy and Conlon added points before Peter Duggan had Clare’s second goal with a deft flick to the net from a Donal Touhy free.
With Clare busy celebrating an eight-point lead, Cork cut the deficit in half just before the break. Indeed, as it turned out, Luke Meade’s goal defined the game.
A Mark Coleman point from a sideline ball left Clare in front by 2-11 to 1-10 at the interval. Returning from the break the team spent more than four minutes waiting in the intense heat for Cork to reappear.
When Cork re-emerged, Colm Spillane went to fullback to curb the rampant John Conlon, while Darragh Fitzgibbon moved to centre-forward.
John Meyler’s charges took Clare by surprise in the opening moments as Fitzgibbon and Horgan (2) closed the gap.
By the 44th minute, the sides were level but the impetus had shifted to the reigning Munster champions. Missed frees by Clare and two Cork points had the winners clear by the 50th.
Clare’s Gerry O’Connor and Cork’s John Meyler shake hands at the end of an enthralling Munster final.
Colm Galvin and substitute Conor McGrath brought parity at 1-17 to 2-14 as the game entered the final ten minutes. By this stage, Conlon was back out to centre-forward while David Fitzgerald and Jason McCarthy came on to strengthen the midfield.
Cork raced five points clear as Clare wilted between the 60th and 68th minutes. Ian Galvin managed a goal in the 73rd minute leaving only a score between the sides at the final whistle.
Gerry O’Sullivan, chairman of the Munster Council presented Cork captain Seamus Harnedy with the Munster Senior Hurling Championship cup.
CLARE: Donal Tuohy (Crusheen), Patrick O’Connor (Tubber), David McInerney (Tulla), Jack Browne (Ballyea), Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge), Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay), Jamie Shanahan (Sixmilebridge), Colm Galvin (Clonlara 0-1), Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge), Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin 1-7),Tony Kelly (Ballyea 0-1), David Reidy (Éire Óg 1-2), Podge Collins (Cratloe 0-2), John Conlon (Clonlara 0-5), Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg). Subs: Jason McCarthy for Malone, Conor McGrath (0-1) for O’Donnell, David Fitzgerald for Shanahan, Darragh Corry for Reidy and Ian Galvin (1-0) for Cleary.
CORK: Anthony Nash (Kanturk), Sean O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), Damien Cahalane (St Finbarr’s), Colm Spillane (Castlelyons), Christopher Joyce (Na Piarsaigh), Eoin Cadogan (Douglas), Mark Coleman (Blarney), Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville 0-1), Bill Cooper (Youghal 0-1), Daniel Kearney (Sarsfields 0-2), Conor Lehane (Midleton 0-2), Seamus Harnedy (St Ita’s 1-4), Luke Meade (Newcestown 1-1), Shane Kingston (Douglas), Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers 0-11). Subs: Robbie O’Flynn for Kingston, Michael Cahalane for Meade, Lorcan McLoughlin for Kearney.
Referee James McGrath (Westmeath)