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 Alan Cadogan takes on Waterford's Darragh Lyons at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last weekend. He has hit 1-5 in his two games to date. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Alan Cadogan takes on Waterford's Darragh Lyons at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last weekend. He has hit 1-5 in his two games to date. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Cork's firepower is more impressive but the Banner will look to engineer goals

THERE'S a novel feel to this Sunday's game.

It's championship in Ennis, a completely new experience for Cork and their supporters, and even if Clare are on their knees after successive hammerings they have one last shot at redemption. This could be one of the games of the summer if the likes of John Conlon, Shane O'Donnell and Tony Kelly click as they did last season in pushing Galway to an All-Ireland semi-final replay.

Granted the Banner could roar and still be eliminated if Tipp defeat Limerick, but there's enough to motivate them. Particularly when compared to Waterford last weekend who were only playing for pride.

The Rebels have a superb record against Clare since 2013, beating them in the '14 Munster semi-final and the last two finals, along with a 2015 qualifier and last May in the Páirc. That this game is in Cusack Park changes the dynamic.

For all that, Cork are heavy favourites and justifiably so. They've been hugely impressive in their last two games, especially in comparison to Clare, and have tallied 4-88 to the Banner's paltry 1-50.

Clare's Podge Collins is swarmed by the Limerick defence. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Clare's Podge Collins is swarmed by the Limerick defence. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

While Ennis has been a fortress for Clare over the years, Tipperary opened them up at will two weeks ago and even if the ground itself is tight the pitch isn't. A place where Cork's pace, improved support play and the threat of Patrick Horgan and Alan Cadogan inside, who fired 3-9 from play between them against Limerick and Waterford, should thrive.

Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Clare's lack of firepower this summer has been astonishing, with John Conlon and Shane O'Donnell only managing 1-2 between them, and that was down in Walsh Park on day one. Tony Kelly jinked through for 0-5 against the Déise but only two points from play since.

Peter Duggan has top-scored as the free-taker but has only contributed 0-4 from play. Cork have seven players who have shot that or more, including Shane Kingston and Conor Lehane, who has been injured.

The Banner's morale must be incredibly low this week and they've reverted to type a bit in defence in recent games, with Patrick O'Connor and co giving away a host of close-range frees. You'd imagine they'll pull a sweeper back to clog up the space in front of Horgan and Cadogan and to cut off the central channel where Seamus Harnedy comes off the shoulder to launch the majority of his points.

Yet that approach could mean Mark Coleman ending up in a loose role at the other end and allow Daniel Kearney and Luke Meade to pick up where they left off against Waterford as deep-lying wing-forwards. Coleman, Kearney, Meade and the midfield duo Bill Cooper and Darragh Fitzgibbon chipped in with 0-8 between them on Saturday night.

There weren't too many crumbs of comfort for Clare leaving the Gaelic Grounds but the game could have been very different had Aron Shanagher or Peter Duggan made the most of gilt-edged opportunities in the opening quarter. Waterford raised two green flags in the Páirc and had three other decent chances, even if Niall O'Leary, Seán O'Donoghue and Eoin Cadogan all did well in the full-back line.

 Selector Kieran Murphy encouraging Sean O'Donoghue. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Selector Kieran Murphy encouraging Sean O'Donoghue. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

It remains the area that opponents will feel is vulnerable, especially as Colm Spillane's injury has robbed John Meyler and the selectors of their strongest fielder in that sector. O'Leary took the safe option by batting the sliotar in front of him last weekend but Clare might go more direct, particularly if they opt for some combo of Shanagher, Conlon and Duggan close to goal.

Shane O'Donnell would then have to drop to the bench but the Banner management simply have to make some harsh calls to save their summer. They'll want to drag Cork into a battle around the middle third and hope to engineer off a couple of goals on the counter with angled crossfield deliveries to isolated inside forwards.

John Conlon turns Mike Casey. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
John Conlon turns Mike Casey. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

The Rebels have come up against those tactics before. They need to hold their shape at the back and Cooper, Meade and Kearney will help cover gaps if the corner-backs are stretched.

SCORERS FOR CORK:

Patrick Horgan 2-33 (0-25 f); 

Seamus Harnedy 1-9;

Alan Cadogan 1-5;

Shane Kingston 0-6;

Daniel Kearney, Conor Lehane 0-5 each;

Darragh Fitzgibbon 0-4;

Luke Meade, Tim O’Mahony 0-3 each;

Mark Coleman, Declan Dalton 0-2 each;

Mark Ellis, Bill Cooper, Robbie O’Flynn 0-1 each.

Shane Kingston fires a point. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Shane Kingston fires a point. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

SCORERS FOR CLARE:

Peter Duggan 0-29 (0-23 f, 0-1 sl);

Tony Kelly 0-9 (0-2 f);

John Conlon 1-1;

Podge Collins, Shane Golden, Aidan McCarthy 0-2 each;

Colm Galvin, David Fitzgerald Diarmuid Ryan, Shane O'Donnell, Rian Taylor 0-1 each.

Tony Kelly takes a sideline. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Tony Kelly takes a sideline. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile