Paudie Murray proud of Cork minor hurlers as wides tally cost them

Defeat to Clare on Tuesday night signalled the end of this year's campaign
Paudie Murray proud of Cork minor hurlers as wides tally cost them

Cork's James Murray hits over a point watched by manager Paudie Murray against Clare's during the Electric Ireland Munster MHC semi-final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture; Eddie O'Hare

WE are told that good things come in threes, but for Cork hurling the week from April 27-May 3 featured a triad of setbacks across different grades.

After the quest for three Munster and All-Ireland U20 titles came to ground with defeat to Tipperary in Thurles, the senior team’s loss to Clare at the same venue last Sunday meant that qualification for the knockout stages of the All-Ireland championship will be an uphill battle.

Then, Tuesday night saw the minor Rebels take on Clare at Páirc Uí Rinn for a place in the final of the Electric Ireland Munster MHC final.

Cork had topped their group ahead of Limerick and Kerry but, while that gave them an advantage in terms of avoiding the quarter-final stage, the flipside was a three-week lay-off and that contributed to a rustiness that was apparent in a wides tally of 21 – 13 of them in the first half and nine in the opening 16 minutes.

The home side never managed to lead, though they did show good spirit to come from six points down late in the first half to be level by half-time. Unfortunately, a Clare goal within a minute of the restart put them into a lead that was never lost and it was ultimately the difference at the end as the Banner ran out winners by 2-17 to 1-17.

For Cork manager Paudie Murray, it was a game that they could have won, but he could have no complaints with the outcome.

Cork manager Paudie Murray. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork manager Paudie Murray. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“We probably dominated for long patches but didn’t put the scores on the board,” he said, “so that part of it is disappointing.

“We knew Clare were a good side. They had 10 players who were involved in winning a Dean Ryan, winning a Harty, winning an All-Ireland Colleges. 

Looking back on it, you’d probably have to say that we had our chances to win the game.”

Cork beat Limerick at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on April 12 to top Group 2. Due to the three-team nature of the groups, they were scheduled to be off the following week as Limerick met Kerry, while the lack of a quarter-final also meant that they were training rather than playing in the final week of April.

Clare, who lost to Tipperary on the night Cork beat Limerick, had overcome Waterford and then Kerry in the interim and they carried that momentum with them.

“I suppose you’re always better off to have games than to be training,” Murray said.

“That probably was a disadvantage and the other side of it is that we’re doing one or two with injuries, too. We didn’t do well on our long puck-outs and I think that Mick O’Driscoll would have been a man that we’d have been targeting there.

“It is what it is, I just thought that our lads never gave up, to be fair to them.”

STRONG FINISH

That refusal to give in was apparent with the strong finish to the first half, as a 1-7 to 0-4 deficit was turned into 1-8 each. 

And Cork’s character was almost rewarded in the dying minutes of the second half as Ross O’Sullivan dispossessed a Clare defender and created a chance for an equalising goal. While he had netted in the first half when he did well to touch home a Peter O’Shea delivery, this time he was denied by Banner goalkeeper Mark Sheedy.

Murray was proud of his team from that point of view but the poor shooting statistics were the costliest factor.

The bottom line is that any team that we’re involved with, we’d want them to play with intensity and heart and I think that they did that.

“At half-time, our conversion rate was at 41 percent, which is very low and it’s one thing that you certainly wouldn’t be happy with.”

The key thing is that this experience is put to good use going forward, though of course Murray would have liked the extra games that reaching a Munster final would have guaranteed.

“U17 is about development,” he said.

“We were very anxious to win on Tuesday because it would have given the players another three games, minimum.

“I think that that experience would certainly stand to them so, from that point of view, we’re disappointed.”

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