AN orange warning for Clare on Sunday wasn’t enough it seems for the association to cancel the Cork V Clare national league opener in Cusack Park on Sunday.
Game aside, from a player welfare perspective, this game shouldn’t have gone ahead.
With my wipers on maximum, frantically trying to swoosh away the pouring rain on the motorway, twenty minutes out from Cusack Park, and my car rocking from side to side in windy, grey, overcast conditions, safety crossed my mind.
The association left it up to referee John Dermody to make the call and he deemed Cusack Park playable.
Coming to and from the match should have also been the consideration, not just the pitch itself.
Playable it may have been with the rain ceasing before throw-in, but the wind remained extremely strong throughout.
This game was about digging out a win.
Clare’s decision to play a two-player forward line inside their forty-five with a massive wind at their backs was surprising and it allowed Cork to play their short, supporting game which they did impressively.
This was certainly the thirty minutes when that style of play was required.
Ciara O’Sullivan came in as a direct replacement for Fiona Keating, Keating having broken her hand in training on Thursday night.
A driving high strike by Laura Hayes within a minute visibly hung and pushed back as storm Eunice continue to blow hard.
Striking long high balls in was going to be a waste of time for Cork as they quickly switched to carrying and short snappy passing.
Laura Hayes covered huge ground in an attacking left half back role with bursting runs up the left flank.
Ciara O’Sullivan fell back from centre forward to play more defensively.
Eunice was a friend to Clare as Chloe Morey struck Clare’s opening point from almost 70 yards four minutes in.
Hayes struck Cork's second point on fifteen minutes, in a low scoring game now at 0-2 apiece.
Clare’s tactic of continuing to play deep was strange.
Cork swept up, always having a spare player or two by which to offload and set up a counterattack.
They were able to go into attacking mode in that first half, something they possibly hadn’t expected to do.
Cork left Sorcha McCartan at full forward as their half forward line pushed out.
Lining out in single file up front with McCartan, Amy O’Connor and Katrina Mackey, the latter flanked on the wings by Izzy O’Regan and Cliona Healy, Cork were holding their own against the elements.
Doireann Murphy made a point black save from Amy O’Connor on twenty-four minutes with Clare leading three points to two.
While the wind was a significant advantage it was also a disadvantage if you gave the ball too much height and Clare had seven wides in that opening period, shots which made the long distance but went wide of the post Katie O’Mahoney gave some lovely deft passes from midfield as the half finished 0-4 to 0-3 to the home side.
You’d predict that Cork were going to run riot in the second half, but the conditions were never going to allow for that.
A Katie O’Mahoney point from distance gave them a 0-6 to 0-4 lead forty minutes in.
The conditions became almost unplayable for a spell as the rain and wind grew angrier.
The sun appeared but the wind remained, and Cork retained it for the remaining fourteen minutes.
Cork were awarded a penalty on fifty after goalkeeper Doireann Murphy smothered Katrina Mackey’s attack.
McCartan buried it into the right bottom corner. O’Connor finished to the net in injury time to give Cork their victory.
A scrappy game, unsurprisingly, but two points on the board for Cork with a few debutants tested so a good day in Ennis despite the very difficult conditions.
Scorers for Cork: A O’Connor 1-2, S McCartan 1-1 (0-1 p), I O’Regan, L Hayes, K O’Mahoney 0-1 each.
Clare: A O’Loughlin 0-2, C Morey 0-1 (f), E Kelly 0-1.
Cork: A Lee; M Murphy; L Coppinger, M Cahalane; L Hayes, L Treacy, S McCarthy; K O’Mahoney, A Thompson; I O’Regan, C O’Sullivan, C Healy; A O’Connor, S McCartan, K Mackey.
Subs: C Sigerson for C O’Sullivan (47), A Hurley for K Mackey (51).
Clare: D Murphy; C Kelly, C Hehir, C Grogan; A Ryan, C Morey, A Keane; C Carmody, M Scanlan; S Canny, E Kelly, Zi Yan Spillane; R Conway, A O’Loughlin, L McNamara.
Sub: R Conway for S Canny (43).
Referee: John Dermody – Westmeath.