While the result won’t affect Cork’s place in the oneills.com Munster U20HC final, Ben O’Connor’s side will be keen to maintain their momentum when they travel to Limerick tonight.
The Rebels take on the Shannonsiders at TUS Gaelic Grounds (7.30pm) in their final round-robin game, having been assured of top spot with a match to spare. Cork picked up their third straight win as they beat Clare in Ennis on Tuesday of last week, moving to six points, and Tipperary’s win over Limerick last Friday night meant that they couldn’t be caught.
They will definitely be in the Munster final on Monday, May 15, with the make-up of the semi-final on May 8 still to be decided.
Clare are currently in second place on four points, having concluded their programme, while Tipp – who face the already-eliminated Waterford tonight – and Limerick are both on three. The team finishing in second will host the side in third in the semi-final – should Tipp win, they will be guaranteed second as, even if Limerick beat Cork and the two counties finished on five points, the Premier County would have the head-to-head advantage.
A late Ben Cunningham goal was key as Cork beat Clare by 1-24 to 0-22 in Cusack Park. What was especially pleasing for management was how David Cremin won a delivery from centre-back Eoin Downey and then, rather than going for his own score, played in Cunningham.
“It’s what Ben O’Connor and the lads involved in the coaching are about,” Cork selector Terence McCarthy says, “you pass the ball to the guy in the best position and that’s what they did.
“Ben [Cunningham] would probably admit that he didn’t have his best night overall but he was the key man between the teams on the night and you want your big players coming up with the big moments.”
Cork had started well against Clare – in contrast to the home games against Waterford and Tipperary, when they took a while to get going – but the Banner responded well to lead by half-time.
“Taking the positive side was the good start,” McCarthy says, “as we had started slowly in the previous two games.
“A point down in Ennis at half-time is not the end of the world and that’s what we told the lads.
“They responded to that, which was great. Goals win games and the lads did the necessary to push on towards the end.”