Clare 1-20 Cork 0-21
A CLARE goal in the closing sequences of last Saturday’s Munster SHL encounter at Cusack Park proved to be game’s defining moment as the home side bagged the brace of points on offer.
A very experimental Cork side had led from the outset and when they held a four-point advantage as the game entered its closing minutes they looked set for victory at a venue that has not been kind to them recently.
But that Clare goal, fired home by substitute Colin Guilfoyle, and a subsequent hat-trick of points from Niall Deasy, Ryan Taylor and Diarmuid Ryan gave the Banner County the win.
Cork lined out without six of the named starting 15 and will have been disappointed to come out second best having been in front for so long. Clare made changes to their named team as well in a game that was low key for long periods before the home team’s late scoring burst had their fans in the 1,987 attendance roaring approval.
Of course, one should never place too much store into these pre-season encounters but Cork’s overall display had a number of positives that will have pleased the management.
Robert Downey, who replaced Eoghan Murphy at wing-back, had a fine debut and that was acknowledged by team boss John Meyler afterwards.
Alongside him, Tim O’Mahony did well at centre-back while there was no shortage of effort from Cormac Murphy, Jamie Coughlan and Robbie O’Flynn who were all on the scoresheet.
Deccie Dalton was first class again with his attempts from the placed ball and forced the Clare ‘keeper Keith Hogan into two fine first-half saves.
Michael O’Halloran had a very strong opening half, rifling over a few terrific points before fading a bit thereafter.
Cork led by six points at the break, 0-13 to 0-7, with Dalton and O’Halloran doing the bulk of their scoring.
Clare were overly reliant on Niall Deasy to secure their scores from frees but they had Gary Cooney and Diarmuid Ryan also contributing.
However, when the teams came back out it was Clare who became the more assertive side and they had a quartet of points on the board inside the opening three minutes with Deasy, Ryan, Davy Conroy and Cathal Malone all splitting the sticks.
The difference between the teams was now down to two points and it was very much game on.
But Cork managed to hold the advantage on the scoresheet with Dalton and Coughlan both delivering the important points.
It was 0-17 to 0-15 with 15 minutes remaining on a very dreary afternoon in Ennis and a superb Dalton point from a sideline puck a few minutes later was one of the scores of the game.
As the minutes ticked away it looked like it was going to be Cork’s day but Clare upped the tempo significantly as we entered the dying embers of the game.
After Robbie O’Flynn had belted over a fine point, the Clare response of an unanswered 1-3 was enough to send their supporters home happy.
Guilfoyle took his goal very well, firing home a ground shot past Patrick Collins who up to that point was never seriously threatened.
So it ended in a Cork loss on a day that a few players ensured that they’ll see more game time in this competition and in whatever challenge games are arranged before the commencement.
Young Downey from the Glen was certainly one of them.
To be fair, there was no shortage of effort from all the players on duty but Clare had that greater threat up front when push came to shove in the final few frenetic minutes.
Scorers for Clare: Niall Deasy 0-10 (7f); Gary Cooney, Diarmuid Ryan 0-3 each; Colin Guilfoyle 1-0; Davy Conroy 0-2; Cathal Malone, Ryan Taylor 0-1 each.
Cork: Declan Dalton 0-10 (7f, 2 65, 1 sl); Michael O’Halloran, Jamie Coughlan (1f) 0-4 each; Robbie O’Flynn 0-2; Cormac Murphy 0-1.
CLARE: K Hogan, J McCarthy, D Fitzgerald, R Hayes, A McCarthy, C Galvin, C Malone, S Golden, D Conroy, D Ryan, N Deasy, R Taylor, G Cooney, A Shanagher, M O’Neill.
Subs: C Guilfoyle for Conroy, C Cleary for Galvin, J Browne for Fitzgerald, C McInerney for Shanagher, all second-half.
CORK: P Collins, S O’Donoghue, D Griffin, D Lowney, C Joyce, T O’Mahony, R Downey, C Cahalane, W Kearney, C Murphy, M O’Halloran, A Walsh, J Coughlan, D Dalton, R O’Flynn.
Subs: C Beausang for Kearney (63), P Leopold for O’Halloran (70).
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).