What can we tell from the Cork and Clare league game?

What can we tell from the Cork and Clare league game?
Cathal Malone of Clare in action against Christopher Joyce of Cork. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

SHOULD any notice be taken of what comes to pass during the hurling league?

The vast majority would include the secondary competition as only a footnote when they sum up the hurling year.

However, should we dismiss what transpires in the Spring months that lightly when the heat of the Summer is turned up considerably?.

When the Munster championship draw was compiled last October, Cork were made aware there and then that if they were to regain the crown that they last held in 2014 they would have to overcome Tipperary, Waterford and more than likely Clare, three teams that they would face in Division 1A of the National league.

It’s history now that they beat all three and already they have beaten two, Tipperary and Waterford in the provincial championship.

Now Clare stand in their way of doing a league and championship double and Kieran Kingston will certainly be hoping that the trend that they set in the league can continue next Sunday and bring them to the summit of the Munster Everest.

Mark Ellis against David Fitzgerald of Clare. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Mark Ellis against David Fitzgerald of Clare. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Clare were Cork’s opening night opponents in the league back on February 11 in Páirc Uí Rinn and it was viewed at the time as a must-win for the home team given what was coming down the line in Tipperary, Waterford and Kilkenny.

Luke Meade. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Luke Meade. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Twelve of the Cork team that started that night are very likely to be on the same starting block on Sunday while the Clare team that defeated Limerick in the Munster semi-final contained eight players who lined out that night.

Cork led by just two points at half-time in that league encounter, 0-8 to 1-3 after a late Podge Collins goal brought Clare right back into the frame.

When the teams resumed for the second-half, Anthony Nash saved a Tony Kelly penalty and the follow up from Alan Shanagher.

Kingston’s new look Cork team subsequently went on the secure the game’s next five points and thereafter the outcome was never in doubt, the final scoreline reading 0-21 to 1-11.

Patrick Horgan posted five points followed by the Douglas duo of Alan Cadogan and Shane Kingston with four apiece.

Shane Kingston. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
Shane Kingston. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Luke Meade got a few as well with Seamus Harnedy, Bill Cooper and Darragh Fitzgibbon also on the board.

The Cork management gave youth its fling on that occasion and the starting team has not changed too much since.

There was a subsequent loss to Dublin but the wins over Waterford and Tipperary were followed by championship wins over the same two counties.

So, if league form stands up in Thurles, Cork will be Munster champions on Sunday evening at around 5-30pm.

If that was to come to pass, maybe league games in February have relevance when championship time comes around, especially for the younger players.

And it must be pointed out that the Cork management viewed the victory over Waterford in Walsh Park as a then defining game in their season.

Cork scorers: Patrick Horgan 0-5 (0-4 frees), Shane Kingston, Alan Cadogan 0-4 each, Daniel Kearney, Luke Meade 0-2 each, Séamus Harnedy, Bill Cooper, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Dean Brosnan 0-1 each.

Clare scorers: Tony Kelly 0-6, Podge Collins 1-1, David Reidy 0-2f, Aron Shanagher, John Conlon 0-1 each.

The teams on that league night in February were: 

CORK: A Nash; K Burke, C Spillane, D Griffin; C Joyce, M Ellis, M Coleman; B Cooper, D Kearney; D Fitzgibbon, S Harnedy, S Kingston; A Cadogan, P Horgan, L Meade.

CLARE: D Tuohy; S Morey, C Dillon, J Browne; J Shanahan, C Cleary, B Bugler; S Golden, T Kelly; J Conlon, P Collins, C Malone; A Shanagher, S O’Donnell, D Reidy.

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