Mark Woods reflects on Keith Ricken's charges' 1-14 apiece draw with the Banner.
USUALLY football games following hurling suffer, but not on this occasion as the footballers of Cork and Clare served up an edge-of-the-seat thriller in direct contrast to the one-sided hurling game between the same counties.
A howling wind blew with some ferocity from the city end goal and, typically, it was also mixed with some drenching showers halfway through the opening period of the football game after the hurlers escaped.
While the destination of the hurling points was a done deal long before the final whistle, the football kept those who remained on-and there was a sizeable contingent gripped with uncertainty.
Clare looked to have staked strong claims for a second set of points when Keelan Sexton buried his 60th-minute penalty high into Mícheál Aodh Martin’s net.
Back came Cork, who then, appeared to be heading for a morale-boosting victory following Brian Hurley’s fortunate goal from a free.
But, then Clare showed battling qualities of their own to kick two fine points in injury-time before Mark Cronin’s long-range free dropped short in the closing play.
Who would have thought a Division 2 football game would carry more clout than a top-tier hurling match afterwards?
BOTH sides dipped into their reserves and were rewarded with some major contributions.
Cork’s Fionn Herlihy and Mark Cronin kicked 0-2 and 0-1 respectively while Clare’s Jamie Malone, Emmett McMahon and Daniel Walsh also delivered for Clare.
Yet, both sides were grateful to their respective number 14s, Cork captain Brian Hurley chipping in with 1-4 to maintain his exciting start to 2022 while at the other end, Keelan Sexton went one point better with 1-5, including his expertly taken penalty.
BLAKE Murphy was the pride of the St Vincent’s club after his 48-minute league debut which was dotted with three well-taken first-half points against the wind.
The 2019 All-Ireland U20 winner didn’t look out of place in what must have been a daunting experience for a rookie facing into a seasoned side like Clare, who have warriors in all departments.
But, Murphy had his points registered on the scoreboard inside 20 minutes after Cork took the game to the Banner despite playing into the elements.
His third point, in particular, deserves special mention because it was a real team effort, showing lots of patience and understanding before Murphy applied the finishing touches with a confident finish.
TWICE, he was flattened by Clare challenges during the first-half, when running the show, but bounced back to play a huge role in Cork’s display.
His darting runs from centre-back had alarm bells sounding in the Clare defence and for good measure Powter popped over the opening point of the second-half from a 55m free.