Munster SHC: rampant Rebels ease into Munster final

23 June 2013

Clare's Nicky O'Connell and William Egan of Cork.
©INPHO/Cathal Noonan.
Cork 0-23
Clare 0-15

Cork outscored Clare by 0-15 to 0-4 in the second half to qualify for next month's Munster SHC final against Limerick in impressive fashion.

Beaten by the Banner three times already this year, Jimmy Barry-Murphy's revitalised Rebels ripped up the formbook with a devastating second half display to leave themselves just 70 minutes away from their first provincial title since 2006 and their 52nd in all.

Clare, who had relegated Cork to Division 1B of Allianz League in the spring and had the benefit of a quarter-final win over Waterford, led by 0-11 to 0-8 after playing with the wind in the opening half. But they had no answer to their injury-hit opponents after the restart. Patrick Horgan top-scored with 0-8 as the Rebels turned on the style and gave their supporters in the 19,049 attendance at the Gaelic Grounds plenty to cheer about.

The game turned decisively in the Rebels' favour in the third quarter when they shot eight points without reply to take a firm grip on proceedings. This scoring burst knocked the stuffing out of the pre-match favourites who will rue their failure to take any one of four guilt-edged goal-scoring opportunities that came their way.

They also posted 10 wides (one more than Cork) and, with such a young team, it's going to be difficult for manager Davy Fitzgerald to get Clare back in the All-Ireland race after this shattering defeat.

Cork won the toss and elected to play against the strong breeze in the opening half. Patrick Horgan had the opening score in the fourth minute, but it was immediately cancelled out by Podge Collins at the other end after he blocked down William Egan's attempted clearance.

When Conor O'Sullivan was issued with a yellow card for upending Collins just outside the 20-metre line, Tony Kelly stepped up to take the free with nothing but a goal on his mind. But his shot was saved by Anthony Nash and, in the ensuing goalmouth scramble, the ball went out for a '65 which Colin Ryan nailed to give the Banner the lead for the first time with nine minutes played.

A couple of minutes later, Colm Galvin fielded a Nash puck-out and sent the ball straight back over the bar as Davy Fitzgerald's men settled to their task. Darach Honan, who gave his marker Stephen McDonnell lots of problems early on, scored two points - the second of which could easily have been a goal - either side of a Daniel Kearney effort to push Clare into a 0-5 to 0-2 lead.

But the Rebels hit back with a great individual point from Luke O'Farrell and another from debutant Seamus Harmedy to leave just the minimum in it at the end of the first quarter.

Conor McGrath punished a Christopher Joyce mistake when he whipped over Clare's sixth point. Pat Horgan replied from a free after he was fouled himself, only for McGrath to hit back with his second score in as many minutes.

The Banner suffered a big blow in the 20th minute when key forward John Conlon was forced off with a shoulder injury, and was replaced by Aaron Cunningham. Colin Ryan registered their fifth wide before Horgan scored a classic Cork point to leave two between the sides again, 0-6 to 0-8.

Wearing number 24, Podge Collins showed great perseverance to split the posts before pouncing on a poor hand-pass by the experienced Tom Kenny to rack up his third point inside the first half an hour.

Clare extended their advantage to four points when midfielder Galvin pointed on the run before Cork introduced Jamie Coughlan for Stephen Moylan. Conor Lehane, who had a quiet first half by his standards, had the Rebels' fourth point before Colin Ryan and Cork 'keeper Anthony Nash exchanged frees to leave it a three-point game at the interval.

With the wind to their backs, Cork came flying out of the starting blocks for the second half. Substitute Coughlan latched onto a long ball and pointed before Horgan sent over another free he had manufactured himself. Anthony Nash saved at his near post to deny Darach Honan a goal before Conor Lehane set up William Egan for the equaliser in the 40th minute.

Clare passed up another goal chance when Conor McGrath fired wide after Pat Donnellan had put a high ball in behind the Cork defence. Those misses by Honan and McGrath came back to haunt the losers as the fired-up Rebels hit the front for the first time since the ninth minute when Seamus Harmedy slotted over from close to the right sideline in the 46th minute.

The Clare management - who replaced free-taker Colin Ryan with Fergal Lynch - were powerless to halt Cork's growing momentum as Horgan (free) and Coughlan pushed them into a 0-14 to 0-11 lead by the 50th minute.

It was all Cork now as Cian McCarthy and Horgan (free) tagged on further points before Podge Collins registered Clare's first score of the second half in the 53rd minute. But there was no respite for the Banner as Horgan (free), Luke O'Farrell and Conor Lehane kept the scoreboard operator busy.

The outstanding Harmedy hammered another nail into Clare's coffin with his third point before the subdued Tony Kelly raised his only white flag of the afternoon. On as a substitute for Cian McCarthy, Cork captain Pa Cronin got in on the scoring act and 'keeper Nash knocked over his second free.

Clare substitute Seadna Morey was denied a goal by Nash before another sub, Shane O'Donnell, pointed. But the rampant Rebels had the final say when Horgan fired over his eighth point in injury-time.

Scorers - Cork: P Horgan 0-8 (5f), S Harnedy 0-3, A Nash (2f), C Lehane, L O'Farrell & J Coughlan 0-2 each, W Egan, D Kearney, C McCarthy & P Cronin 0-1 each. Clare: P Collins 0-5, D Honan, C Ryan (1f, 1 65), C Galvin & C McGrath 0-2 each, T Kelly and S O'Donnell 0-1 each.

Cork: A Nash; C O'Sullivan, S McDonnell, B Murphy; S O'Neill, C Joyce, W Egan; T Kenny, D Kearney; S Harnedy, C McCarthy, C Lehane; L O'Farrell, P Horgan, S Moylan. Subs: J Coughlan for Moylan (32), P Cronin for McCarthy (62).

Clare: P Kelly; D O'Donovan, D McInerney, C Dillon; P O'Connor, P Donnellan, N O'Connell, C Galvin; J Conlon, T Kelly, C Ryan; C McGrath, D Honan, P Collins. Subs: A Cunningham for Conlon (20), F Lynch for Ryan (44), S Morey for O'Connell (55), S O'Donnell for McGrath (61).

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).