Cork's trip to Clare will define the hurlers season

Banner held the upper hand over John Meyler's charges in 2019 but the Rebels still qualified for the All-Ireland series
Cork's trip to Clare will define the hurlers season

Cork's Mark Ellis and Mark Coleman with Shane O’Donnell and Peter Duggan of Clare in 2019. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

ALL eyes are now on Ennis for Cork hurling fans after an epic draw with Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. 

Two tough away matches are on the horizon, against the Banner on May 21 and All-Ireland champions Limerick a week later.

Cork and Clare shared the spoils on March 19 in their league encounter at Cusack Park, where a crowd in the region of 3,000 was present. On Sunday week, it will be a totally different backdrop as a capacity attendance of 17,000 will create a red-hot atmosphere.

Cork's last such visit to Ennis for a championship engagement was in 2019, when Clare, having led by 2-10 to 1-8 at half-time, went on to win 2-23 to 2-18. That came on the back of only one win in their previous three games, too late to save their summer. Tipp saw off Limerick to set up a Munster final rematch and Cork advanced via the backdoor route to the All-Ireland series on scoring difference.

On the day Cork's Patrick Horgan was the game's top scorer with 2-9, while Peter Duggan raised a dozen white flags. 

The Cork starting 15 featured Anthony Nash, Eoin Cadogan, Mark Ellis, Bill Cooper, Daniel Kearney and Aidan Walsh, all no longer involved in the squad. 

At the time John Conlon, who was Man of the Match in the recent win over Limerick, wore the number 14 jersey. 

Interestingly, the Cork minors who lost to Clare in the curtain raiser had current centre-back Ciarán Joyce in action while the side was captained by now senior panelist Ethan Twomey. Clare were led by current corner-back Adam Hogan.

Overall, the counties have met in the senior hurling championship on 16 occasions since the turn of the millennium, with that 2019 match the first-ever championship meeting at Cusack Park. Cork have held a strong advantage on the roll of honour, winning 12 times as opposed three Clare wins and that solitary draw famously coming in the 2013 All-Ireland final. 

Apart from the replay win and the 2019 round-robin, Clare's only other reason for celebration was in Thurles last year when Cork suffered their second defeat of the group on a 0-28 to 2-20 scoreline.


Historically the overall state of play is also well-balanced in favour of the Rebels. Of the 59 times the counties have crossed camáns in championship, Cork have only tasted defeat on 14 occasions, with just five draws. Six of the games have taken place in the All-Ireland series.

Demand for tickets will be very high and whilst the full-house signs will be expected to be up well in advance, there's no doubt there is a real magic about a capacity crowd at a smaller venue.

In the past Cork and Clare have met on 29 occasions in Thurles and 20 times in Limerick, but the new format has thrown up a new home-and-away twist in their rivalry.

Munster Council PRO Ed Donnelly, says it's a far cry from the old win-or-bust format in the championship at neutral venues.

"There was a beauty about that too, but looking back it was very unfair on players who had trained for several months, maybe just for one game. Now everybody has four games and if you are good enough you make the top three, otherwise, the opportunity is gone but that's after three games rather than one. Attendances have been really good so far in the hurling championship and obviously, we are looking to some more great games in the countdown to the final."

It's a hectic time for all involved in the Munster Council: 56 games taking place in 82 days as the provincial championship hits overdrive in all grades. For Cork hurlers a win away in Cusack Park would be a massive result as they aim to stay on the hurling highway for the summer of 2023. 

Fasten your seatbelts!

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