Clare 0-28 Cork 2-20
CORK'S hopes of qualification for the knockout stages of the All-Ireland SHC are hanging by the thinnest of threads following defeat to Clare at FBD Semple Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
A second straight defeat, in the wake of the loss to Limerick in the opening round a fortnight ago, means that Cork must beat Waterford and Tipperary in their remaining games to have any chance of securing third place in the table. Even then, a large scoring-difference turnaround would be required.
While the final scoreline showed just a two-point difference between the teams, a 75th-minute goal from Darragh Fitzgibbon gave only the briefest of hopes that something could be salvaged. Clare were not going to be denied, though, and with a trip to Waterford and a home clash against Limerick to come, they will have hopes of reaching the Munster final.
The Rebels only led this game once, after Shane Kingston put them 0-2 to 0-1 in front in the third minute. Clare, who had enjoyed an impressive win over Tipperary at the same venue a week previously, responded to that with five consecutive points. By the 23rd minute, it was 0-12 to 0-3 for Brian Lohan’s side, with Tony Kelly, Ryan Taylor, Shane O’Donnell and corner-back Rory Hayes among their stars. While Tim O’Mahony did round off a good move with Cork point to briefly cut the arrears, it was their only score between the 10th and 30th minutes, a period where the Banner scored nine.
Two points from Kelly and one from O’Donnell made it 0-15 to 0-4 before a pair of Patrick Horgan points were followed by a good score from Alan Connolly, who had been brought on for Jack O’Connor. The Blackrock man was one of the few Cork players to emerge with credit, along with the full-back line of Seán O’Donoghue, Niall O’Leary and Robert Downey, who only coughed up one real goal chance of substance throughout.
Horgan carried the fight to Clare but wasn’t at his usual high dead-ball levels, sending four frees off-target, while the original midfield pairing of captain Mark Coleman and his Blarney clubmate Shane Barrett was overrun by Taylor and Cathal Malone. Barrett was switched with Darragh Fitzgibbon, who began at centre-forward, midway through the first half and Coleman had reverted to wing-back in a switch with Ger Millerick by the start of the second half.
Connolly’s introduction helped to bring about a mini-revival from Cork before half-time and they went in trailing by 0-17 to 0-11 – indeed, the last point, from Shane Kingston after Eibhear Quilligan saved from Horgan, might even have resulted in a goal.
However, what momentum was there couldn’t be harnessed at the start of the second half as the hard-working David Fitzgerald and Ian Galvin put Clear eight in front again. The score was 0-22 to 0-14 after 47 when Kelly scored a fine point after Malone found him, but Cork suggested a fightback.
First, after Robert Downey had defused a goal danger in the Cork goalmouth, Robbie O’Flynn’s delivery allowed Connolly to pilfer a goal, with Kingston setting up O’Flynn for his third point to leave just four points in it. When Clare’s Ian Glavin was sent off after a scuffle, there was an opportunity to eat further into the lead but Fitzgerald, the impressive Diarmuid Ryan and Taylor – after he and Fitzgerald had forced Fitzgibbon backwards before turning him over – eased Clare worries.
A Patrick Collins save from Peter Duggan on 61 ensured that Cork stayed in it but as time ran down, Clare matched Cork point for point and the score was 0-28 to 1-19 as the five minutes of injury time dawned. In addition, Cork lost their manpower advantage as sub Mark Keane was sent off for an incident with Clare’s powerful centre-back John Conlon.
After Horgan’s 10th point, Fitzgibbon netted following good work by subs Conor Cahalane, Tommy O’Connell and Connolly, but it was essentially the final act.
T Kelly 0-10 (0-5 f, 0-2 65), R Taylor, D Fitzgerald, P Duggan 0-3 each, I Galvin, S O’Donnell, C Malone 0-2 each, D McInerney, D Ryan, R Mounsey 0-1 each.
P Horgan 0-10 (0-6 f, 0-1 65), A Connolly 1-1, D Fitzgibbon 1-0, R O’Flynn 0-3, S Harnedy, S Kingston 0-2 each, C Lehane, T O’Mahony 0-1 each.
E Quilligan; P Flanagan, C Cleary, R Hayes; D Ryan, J Conlon, D McInerney; C Malone, R Taylor; D Fitzgerald, P Duggan, S O’Donnell; R Mounsey, I Glavin, T Kelly.
A Shanager for Mounsey (57), D McMahon for Duggan (69).
P Collins; S O’Donoghue, N O’Leary, R Downey; T O’Mahony, C Joyce, G Millerick; M Coleman, S Barrett; S Harnedy, D Fitzgibbon, R O’Flynn; J O’Connor, P Horgan, S Kingston.
A Connolly for O’Connor (26), C Lehane for Barrett (half-time), C Cahalane for Harnedy (56), T O’Connell for Millerick (59, injured), M Keane for Kingston (62).
P O’Dwyer (Carlow).