Cork minor hurlers fall to Clare in Munster semi-final

Rebels never led, with early second-goal crucial for the visitors
Cork minor hurlers fall to Clare in Munster semi-final

Cork's Adam O'Sullivan is tackled by Clare's Riain McNamara during the Electric Ireland Munster MHC semi-final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Clare 2-17

Cork 1-17

Cork’s hopes of retaining the Munster and All-Ireland minor hurling titles came to an end at Páirc Uí Rinn on Tuesday evening as Clare advanced to the Electric Ireland Munster MHC final.

In the wake of the U20 side’s exit to Tipperary last Wednesday and the senior defeat to the Banner on Sunday, it compounded a bad week for hurling in the county. The home side never led at any stage and, while they did wipe out a six-point deficit to draw level by half-time at 1-9 each, a strong Clare start to the second half gave them a cushion that was never eroded.

Having topped their group, Cork had a three-week break as they avoided the quarter-finals and that perhaps contributed to a slow start as Clare got on top in the opening quarter.

After the first six points were evenly shared, the Banner scored four on the trot, with Oisín Whelan, James Organ and Jack O’Neill impressive in attack while Eoin Gunnin was impeccable in the full-back line.

Though Cork joint-captain Timmy Wilk interrupted the scoring flow with a point, Clare replied with a goal on 22 minutes as Whelan fired home when Riain McNamara’s delivery broke.

That made it 1-7 to 0-4 but Cork, who had had nine wides in the first 16 minutes - 13 in the first half as a whole, 21 in total - looked to have found their rhythm as Wilk brought his influence to bear. He had a point along with scores for James Murray and Peter O’Shea before an O’Shea ball goalwards was superbly touched home by Ross O’Sullivan to tie at 1-8 each.

While Michael Collins put Clare back in front, a lovely Adam O’Sullivan point sent Cork in level but Clare got their second goal within 45 seconds of the restart as Sam Scanlon set up Cian Neylon.

With four of the next five points, Clare were six points in front again by the 38th minute, with Whelan flawless from dead balls. Cork did have three in a row in response, from Adam O’Sullivan, O’Shea and Ben Walsh, but a half-chance of a goal for Seán O’Donoghue was repelled by Seán McMahon.

Whelan and Neylon gave Clare breathing space again but Cork kept pushing. A huge score from centre-back Daniel Murnane kept them in touch and the O’Sullivans had a point each to bring them to within a goal, 2-16 to 1-16, by the 57th minute.

In injury time, Ross O’Sullivan did forge a chance of an equalising goal after he forced a turnover but Mark Sheedy pulled off a good save. O’Sullivan sent the 65 over, but Cork didn’t have any further chances and Whelan confirmed the victory for Clare with a huge free from his own half. Clare now face Tipperary in next week’s final.

Scorers for Clare: O Whelan 1-8 (0-5f, 0-2 65), C Neylon 1-1, J Organ 0-4, M Collins, J O’Neill 0-2 each.

Cork: R O’Sullivan 1-4 (0-2 65, 0-1f), A O’Sullivan 0-4, P O’Shea, T Wilk, S O’Donoghue 0-2 each, J Murray, B Walsh, D Murnane 0-1 each.

CLARE: M Sheedy; E Gunning, F Treacy, J Cahill; S McMahon, J Hegarty, R McNamara; P Ó Sé, D Stritch; M Collins, J O’Neill, J Organ; C Neylon, O Whelan, S Scanlon.

Subs: D Keane Hayes for Collins (47), M O’Halloran for Stritch (55), F Hegarty for O’Neill, F Hayes for Scanlon (both 60).

CORK: D O’Connell (Dromina); D Cashman (Bride Rovers), J O’Brien (Fermoy), E Guinane (Valley Rovers); T O’Leary Hayes (Midleton), D Murnane (Carrigtwohill), M Woods (Valley Rovers); P O’Shea (Erin’s Own), B Walsh (Killeagh); A O’Sullivan (Ballinhassig), J Murray (Youghal), T Wilk (Cobh); J Casey (Youghal), S O’Donoghue (St Catherine’s), R O’Sullivan (Na Piarsaigh).

Subs: S Ahern (Bandon) for O’Brien (20-23, temporary), J Wigginton Barrett (St Finbarr’s) for Casey (43), O Fitzgerald (St Catherine’s) for Murray (47), D McCarthy (Killeagh) for Walsh (53).

Referee: N Barry (Waterford).

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