CLARE manager Brian Lohan paid tribute to Cork hurling's recent run of positive results after watching his Banner side narrowly beaten in the All-Ireland qualifiers.
The Rebels won an U20 All-Ireland two weeks ago, swept Clare aside in the Munster minor quarter-final and also came from behind to beat Tipp in this summer's U20 provincial series.
Naturally, the legendary Clare full-back was proud of his side, who consistently fought back against Cork and would have progressed had it not been for a flying Patrick Collins from a Tony Kelly drive in the last minute. However, he feels Cork are a rising force.
“Very little between the teams Every step you go you meet better quality and this was a step up from where we were at.
"Cork, the graph only seems to be going one way.
“Every result you look at, they seem to be winning whether it’s U14, U15, minor, U20 All-Ireland champions last year and in the Munster final this year. They’re doing a lot of things right so credit to them.”
Cork raised three green flags, while Clare didn't goal until injury, through a Tony Kelly penalty, and were also guilty of poor shooting, especially in the last quarter when Kieran Kingston's side forged ahead.
“They just took their shots and some good defending from Cork and excellent goalkeeping from Cork. You have to give credit to the Cork lads and the Cork defence rather than saying anything about the lads.”
Lohan and his Clare players were applauded off the field after in the Gaelic Grounds. After two seasons at the helm, it would seem like the supporters want him to stay on.
“We got good guys there. They’ve worked very hard all year. They’ve given us everything we have asked of them whether it’s in the gym or out on the field they’ve really represented themselves well and their clubs well and I couldn’t ask for any more.
“We’ve got exceptional guys there. As a supporter when I was looking at them, you’d be very proud of them. They’re exceptional guys and then when you go in and work with them you have more regard for them. Really exceptional guys, they do everything to try and produce big performances which generally speaking they do.”
WATERFORD reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals after holding off a Galway comeback in Thurles.
Leading 1-18 to 0-9 at half-time, with the returning Jamie Barron on song and Jack Fagan raising a green flag, they were under pressure in the latter stages after goals by sub Jason Flynn (2) and Cathal Mannion. A red card early in the second half for Conor Gleeson, when the Déise had extended the lead to 16 points, handed Galway a lifeline.
With seven minutes of additional time allocated, Liam Cahill's side were pressed to the end, though Stephen Bennett had the final say after Flynn's second goal to seal their progress.
They can face Tipperary or Dublin next weekend, the same as Cork, with the draw on Monday morning.