AFTER this game I happened to be talking to Seanie O’Leary, a former great of Cork hurling, goal-poacher supreme, won many a game around the edge of the square.
I think if he was playing today he would be very annoyed with the hold up of the ball out the field, because Seanie relied on direct fast ball into his corner, and boy, could he finish them.
I think if the present teams played like that, we would see a lot more goals in games, but that’s the new tactic now, hold up the ball out the field, lay it off to a runner and he scores a point, and this game illustrated that.
A lot of hand passing, and I must say a fairly poor first half. A lot of bad wides, especially by Clare, even from players with no one on them!
The game did improve in the second half and Cork were always in command. Even though they were not at their best for a lot of this game.
But then again, they did not need to be as Clare were poor and did not play as a team. They played like individuals, a lot of selfish play, going for their own scores at times, especially when there was a man in a better position.
The one player that should have been selfish was not, that was Shane O’Donnell. He got a few nice scores himself but had a few bad wides also. I believe he should have gone for a lot more scores instead of laying the ball off.
Also I think John Conlan should be doing the opposite. I know he got a few scores but he was very selfish at times in going for his own score, when there was better placed men to lay it off to.
Clare needed to get more out of Tony Kelly and Colm Galvin, although they got a goal and a few points between them I still think Bill Cooper (what work-rate he has) and especially Darragh Fitzgibbon dominated this area for Cork.
Is there a faster player in Ireland than Darragh Fitzgibbon? I have not seen him if there is. Also his attitude is first class — up and down the field all day — what an engine he has!
Cork got a lot out of their three star forwards. Conor Lehane, who I believe wasn’t fully fit going into this game, finished the goal brilliantly. Also, along with Shane Kingston, his tracking back on Seadna Morey was one of the highlights at a vital time in the game.
Seamus Harnedy showed real leadership when Cork needed a score — what a great run, and a brilliant finish. That put the game to bed for Cork.
But for me, the real class forward on display, the man with the silky touch and the golden hands, was Patrick Horgan. He oozes class in everything he does. And more importantly now, he does it when Cork really need it.
I have often been critical of Horgan’s work-rate in the past, but he has matured into one of the leaders of this team, and a vital one at that. His class was never in doubt, but he has added other things to his game now.
The real foundation for this Cork victory started in the back line, especially the full-back line. The one thing I really noticed was the improvement in their tackling. They sniffed out any danger of goal and made it very difficult for Clare to get clean possession.
Colm Spillane has improved, brilliant in the air, rock solid on the ground, takes no prisoners in here.
Then of course the other corner-back, the very cocky Sean O’Donoghue. He played like a guy that’s been there for a few years, when actually this is his first year.
A great bouldness to this fella, just what you want in your defender... A bit of advice here Sean, leave the soloing to the fellas further up the field, clear your line at all times — get it out of the danger area.
And now to the most improved hurler in this defence, the very athletic Damian Cahalane, very tenacious, really true grit in this guy. He’s a great man-marker. Then again, he didn’t steal it, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree - his father Niall was a brilliant man marker in a different code.
We all know the capabilities of Mark Coleman, who was a revelation last year, and he is continuing that fine form. Mark Ellis got a few nice points, his first game in a while now.
Christopher Joyce, who played at centre-back, will have to be more commanding in that position. He is prone to giving away a few frees at times which can be very costly for your team.
John Meyler will be happy with the day, getting his first championship win under his belt, although there is still a lot of work to do, it is easier to do after a win.
Good turnout of supporters at this game. Belief is coming back to Cork, not that they ever really lacked it. I think it’s the opposite for Clare and has been now for a few years.
A huge game for Clare next weekend against Waterford in Ennis, and that belief better come back fast.
A very big game indeed, and a week is a short time to do that but at least they will have home venue which will be a help.