Cork v Clare: Outplayed, outsmarted now we need a miracle

Cork need divine intervention at this stage to take that third spot in Munster.
Cork v Clare: Outplayed, outsmarted now we need a miracle

Cork’s Darragh Fitzgibon is held up by Cathal Malone of Clare when driving forward at FBD Semple Stadium. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

SO the Cork public got what they wanted as Ciaran Joyce lined out at centre-back, with Robert Downey behind him at full-back.

Add in a number of positional changes that then saw Ger Millerick moved to the half-back line, with Mark Coleman at midfield with Shane Barrett and Darragh Fitzgibbon at centre-forward.

Again these positional changes would have been suggested by many sitting on the bar stools since the Limerick game and to put it simply they didn’t work.

The influence of Fitzgibbon was badly missed in the centre of the pitch and Coleman wasn’t able to exert any influence on proceedings. 

When Coleman moved to the half-back line he was much more effective and maybe the time has come now to simply leave him at number seven, with Joyce and O’Mahony alongside him and let’s start looking to next year.

Joyce, to be fair to him, is a young player that is very much learning his trade at this level and he started to settle into proceedings.

Up front Cork were simply having a nightmare and with 24 minutes gone we only had four points on the board, one of them from a free.

We only won one single ball cleanly from our own puck-outs to that point and something needed to change. Jack O’Connor was not having the best of games as Rory Hayes was getting the better of him. 

He wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last player that the classy Hayes gets the better of this year.

With 26 minutes gone he was called ashore to be replaced by Alan Connolly and to say he made a difference is a bit of an understatement. 

He added a physical element up front that we were lacking to that point. Like Joyce, he is another up-and-coming young player and could consider himself a little unlucky not to have started.

By half-time Cork had managed to turn an 11-point deficit at one stage into just six and Connolly played his part in that, with Patrick Horgan and Connolly leading the attack. The Cork management know how players are going in training but one would have to wonder would Alan Cadogan have been handy to have on the bench for a day like this. His experience and know-how could have counted.

Ryan Taylor is tackled by Shane Barrett in the Munster hurling clash on Sunday. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Ryan Taylor is tackled by Shane Barrett in the Munster hurling clash on Sunday. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Of those on the pitch Fitzgibbon was starting to exert himself and Cork were looking a bit better, but there was still a long way back and even with those slight improvements it was still very much an uphill task.

Cork needed a good start to the second half, but it was the Banner who got it coolly slotting over the first two points and it was not looking good.

Downey was very much holding his own at the back but other than that we were not winning too many battles around the field. We were relying too much on the free-taking of Horgan to keep us in with a chance. Even when Clare were reduced to 14 when Ian Galvin was sent off after 50 minutes, it made little difference.

Led by the superb Tony Kelly we were being outplayed and outsmarted and the closest we got to getting level was four points until the goal with the last shot. 

From start to finish we never looked like winning this one as effectively our campaign is now at an end.

We now need to beat both Waterford and Tipperary to have any chance of progressing and with the former game at Walsh Park that seems like a tall task.

But we live in hope of that miracle and really we need that divine intervention at this stage if we are to take that third spot in Munster.

Can it be done, in theory, yes, and as long as there is hope there is a chance. But realistically Cork should now blood in some younger players over the two remaining ties and give them a taste of championship action before next year.


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