THE players powered Cork to Munster glory at a packed Semple Stadium after an incredible comeback.
The Rebels silenced the Banner roar by turning around an eight-point deficit, led by the lethal finishing of Seamus Harnedy and Patrick Horgan in attack, to retain their provincial title.
The credit for Cork’s stunning second-half display belongs to the players, according to selector Kieran ‘Fraggie’ Murphy. John Meyler, Donal O’Mahony and Murphy made some astute alterations from the sideline, placing Colm Spillane on Clare powerhouse John Conlon, switching Chris Joyce to centre-back and Mark Coleman to the wing, and pushing Darragh Fitzgibbon into half-forward with Daniel Kearney coming to midfield.
That, along with a Luke Meade goal coming up to half-time, swung the momentum. Fraggie, who won it all as a player with Cork, Sars and the Fitzgibbon Cup, paid a rich tribute to the leaders in the Cork dressing room.
“It’s the players. They went out and delivered in that second half. This group is player-led. They’ll enjoy the celebrations, but when we get back to training they’ll want to deliver in Croke Park. Whoever we meet it’ll be tough opposition and we have to be ready again. These players will recover, get focused again, and be looking at where we can improve from that first-half performance and what we can develop from the second. That’s just the way we are.
“You can try and influence from the sideline, you might make a switch, but ultimately you need the players to perform and they really did. Even at the end of the first half, in those 10 minutes, we started to get a bit of a grip on the game.
“Colm did well on Conlon and that tightened up at the back, but in fairness, at the start, he got really good quality ball which is very hard to defend.”
Cork took an age to return to the field for the second half and were a different animal as they overwhelmed Clare.
“At half-time we focused on the process, on the game-plan, we’d the couple of small switches, where we felt we could exploit them, but we needed to tighten up. Conor Lehane was well marked but he kept going and got a score.
“Daniel Kearney was excellent there in the second half before coming off with cramp.”
Murphy, who has three kids Kate, Ciara and, Thomas with his wife Edel, a passionate Sars woman herself, gave a special mention to veteran Eoin Cadogan.
“Eoin Cadogan was outstanding. He’s a leader. He played every league game and was then on the bench, but when we asked him to stand up and deliver against Waterford and today he did. That’s what we ask of all the players and they never let us down.”