A THREE-goal blast inside the opening 20 minutes laid the platform for Clare’s emphatic victory over Cork in the second round of the Munster Hurling League at Cusack Park in Ennis yesterday.
After their defeat to Limerick a week earlier, Cork have now been eliminated from the pre-season competition and their game with Kerry next weekend is rendered meaningless.
As was the case against Limerick, Cork fielded another very experimental team and there were three further changes to the side from the one announced last Friday night.
The most notable feature of the team was the inclusion of Eoin Cadogan at centre-back, his first outing for the hurlers in a number of years after his concentration on football matters.
He was moved back into full-back after those Clare goals and he certainly helped to steady matters in an area that had been under severe pressure in the opening sequences.
Clare full-forward, Peter Duggan was causing all sorts of bother on the edge of the square, firing home a brace of goals and, while he continued to exert his influence, he was not as conspicuous after Cadogan’s move.
Clare fielded a much stronger outfit and were very assertive down the middle from Conor Cleary at full-back to Duggan at number 14.
David McInerney and Cathal Malone, at centre-back and centre-forward respectively, were always to the forefront with Seadna Morey also making his presence felt at wing-back.
To be truthful, not too many Cork players made any great impression here although a few tasty points were posted from the sticks of Eoghan Murphy (below), Rob O’Shea, Danny Kearney, and Lorcán McLoughlin.
Deccie Dalton rifled over four of his five free attempts but, in truth, the side was chasing the game from the outset.
They were three goals in arrears after 16 minutes following Duggan’s brace and another from Malone and at that juncture, the Cork defence was in a lot of bother.
However, and to give the side credit, they dug a bit deeper thereafter and by half-time the one-time deficit of nine points had been reduced to just four, 3-5 to 0-10.
That suggested that we might be in for a more productive return in the second-half, but it was Clare who took up the initiative again when they resumed.
Morey split the posts with two very fine points and David Reidy got another and when Niall Deasy, following a strong run by Malone, blasted home the Banner’s fourth goal, it was effectively game over.
Young sub, John Looney, who replaced the injured Eoghan Finn after 25 minutes, pointed for the visitors as both managements made changes.
Clare introduced Tony Kelly and he proceeded to deliver two tasty points as the game petered out to its inevitable conclusion.
Eoin Murphy, who did better, when he was switched from full-back early on to the half-back line, secured his second point while Luke Meade also registered a Cork point.
It all ended with Ian Galvin and Deasy adding to Clare’s impressive tally and the victory sets them up for a final tilt with Limerick.
No real standout performances on the Cork team here and, while the management might have learned some things, come the National League campaign do not expect too many changes from last season’s set-up.
Clare’s much team and substitutes bench was much stronger on this bitingly cold Sunday in the Banner County.
Scorers for Clare: P Duggan (2-0); N Deasy (0-1 free), C Malone (1-2 each); I Galvin (0-3); T Kelly, M O’Neill, D Reidy, S Morey (0-2 each); B Connors, R Taylor (0-1 each).
CORK: R O’Shea (0-4, 0-2 frees), D Dalton (0-4, 0-4 frees); D Kearney (0-3); L McLoughlin, E Murphy (0-2 each); J Looney, E Finn, L Meade (0-1 each).
CLARE: P Kelly; E Quirke, C Cleary, P O’Connor; S Morey, D McInerney, D Fitzgerald; R Taylor, C Galvin; N Deasy, C Malone, I Galvin; C McGrath, P Duggan, B Connors.
Subs: J Browne for Quirke (17); D Reidy for C Galvin (37); T Kelly for Malone (50); M O’Neill for Connors (51); J McCarthy for Morey (55).
CORK: A Nash; D Griffin, E Murphy, C O’Sullivan; C O’Leary, E Cadogan, R Cahalane; L McLoughlin, L Meade; E Finn, B Lawton, D Kearney; D Dalton, E Sheehan, R O’Shea.
Subs: J Looney for Finn (25); I Cahill for Sheehan (48); C Twomey for Cahalane (57); E Keniry for Dalton (59); J Cashman for O’Sullivan (65).
Referee: J McCormack (Tipperary).