Allianz Hurling League Division 1A Relegation Final – Clare 0-31 Cork 2-23

Clare go the extra to send Cork crashing

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Clare 0-31 Cork 2-23

Demotion for Cork after this two-point loss to Clare in an extra-time high-scoring and ultimately championship intensity Division 1A relegation final in the windswept Gaelic Grounds yesterday and relief for Clare as they preserve their elite status for another year. Cork have no-one but themselves to blame either, because twice in the second half of normal time, after each of their two goals, victory was in their own hands. The first occasion was in the 53rd minute, full-forward Luke O’Farrell finding the net from the rebound, after Clare keeper Patrick Kelly had denied Conor Lehane, to put Cork five points clear (1-16 to 0-14). Clare recovered from that, went on a powerful and what looked like a match-winning charge, outscored Cork seven points to one to lead by one with time running out. Then came Cork’s second goal, outstanding captain Pa Cronin beating Brendan Bugler with a fine catch on the edge of the square then booting to the net. Cork now two points clear, entering the two minutes of signalled additional time.

Again Clare closed, again Cork failed to hold on, and the game went to extra-time. A worrying sign surely for Cork selector Kieran Kingston; worrying also was the fact Clare had completely dominated possession in the second-half, won the lions’ share of the puckouts but cost themselves through poor shooting, 10 wides in that half. “A lot of those shots were taken under pressure, forced wides,” Kieran pointed out. “We weren’t concerned about that, we felt the game was there for the taking.”

The problem for Cork in that second-half was that Clare were far more tigerish around the ball, around the puckouts especially. “They hit the breaks a bit better than we did, to be fair to them. They used that tactic very well throughout the league, against Kilkenny and others, on their own puckouts and on the opposition’s, that’s something they have obviously worked on, and they hit the break a lot. “The most disappointing thing for us in normal time, when we took the lead after getting the goal we should have held on, we should have driven on — unfortunately we didn’t.”

In that extra-time however, Clare would make no mistake. Their profligacy in front of the posts would continue but so would their all-round dominance. Cork keeper Anthony Nash was forced into a brilliant point-blank save from young sub Peter Duggan as all over the field Clare took control. The precocious full-back trio of Domhnall O’Dononvan, David McInerney and Seadna Morey grew into the game, Brendan Bugler and Patrick O’Connor took control on the wings while centre-back and captain Patrick Donnellan was magnificent throughout.

The Clare second half midfield pairing of Tony Kelly and Colm Galvin contributed an endless supply of ball but also contributed handsomely on the scoreboard (Kelly ended with six points from play, Galvin an invaluable three). Up front, threat in every area, rangy Darach Honan and powerful John Conlon especially dangerous. Those who wondered about Clare’s strength in depth also got an answer as subs Conor McGrath, Peter Duggan and Cathal McInerney all caught the eye.

And yet, and yet, all that being said, Cork would have tied this game at the death had Cathal Naughton’s last-second goal-bound pile-driver not been deflected over the bar by the perfectly placed Bugler. Strange game, truly. “Not the result we wanted,” said a forlorn Kingston, “but the format of the league wasn’t conducive to either ourselves or Clare, no matter who won today. “It was probably a very entertaining game for the supporters, scores missed on both sides that on another day might have gone over. We felt we needed to use our panel as best we could. Unfortunately we were forced to line out without a few players, Shane O’Neill broke down on Thursday night which wasn’t ideal. “Saying that, the effort from everyone was excellent, we have no complaints about that. “We’re very disappointed, of course, but we have to get on with it, it’s all about the 23rd of June now [Munster championship semi-final against the winners of Clare/Waterford].”

As for Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald — joy yes, but hardly unconfined. “It’s a good win. We beat Cork in a relegation play-off – that’s it. We’re not going to get carried away by it. “We won’t beat the likes of Waterford with so many wides. Cork could just as easily have won that game. “We know there’s still a long road to go.”

Scorers for Clare: Colin Ryan 0-10 (6f), T Kelly 0-6, J Conlon 0-4, C Galvin 0-3, D Honan, C McGrath 0-2 each, P Kelly (f), F Lynch, P Collins and C McInerney, 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-11 (6f, 1 65), P Cronin 1-3, L O’Farrell 1-2, C Naughton 0-2, C O’Sullivan, D Kearney, C Lehane, S Moylan and C McCarthy 0-1 each.

Clare: P Kelly; D O’Donovan, D McInerney, S Morey; B Bugler, P Donnellan (c), P O’Connor; C Galvin, Conor Ryan; J Conlon, T Kelly, Colin Ryan; S O’Donnell, D Honan, P Collins.

Subs for Clare: C McGrath for Conor Ryan (26), P Duggan for Collins (60), C McInerney for O’Donnell (70+1), J Clancy for Honan (inj. 80), F Lynch for Duggan (85), S O’Donnell for Clancy (90).

Cork: A Nash; K Murphy, B Murphy, C O’Sullivan; S White, C Joyce, W Egan; L McLoughlin, D Kearney; C Lehane, P O’Sullivan, P Cronin (c); S Moylan, L O’Farrell, P Horgan.

Subs for Cork: T Kenny for Kearney (53), C McCarthy for Moylan (60), C Spillane for K Murphy (62), C Naughton for White (67), M Walsh for McLoughlin (inj 78), B Hartnett for P O’Sullivan (86), P O’Brien for Lehane (86).

Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath)

Clare 0-31 Cork 2-23

Report from the RTE.ie web site

Clare defeated Cork on a 0-31 to 2-23 scoreline after extra-time in a dramatic Allianz National Hurling League Division 1A relegation play-off at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. The result saw Davy Fitzgerald’s Banner County preserved their top-flight status and condemned Cork to Division 1B hurling in 2014.

In front of 5,204 spectators, the sides were deadlocked at the end of 70 minutes – 0-23 to 2-17 – as Luke O’Farrell and Pa Cronin bagged second-half goals for Cork. O’Farrell netted in the 53rd minute but Clare, who were five points down, rallied strongly and edged head in the 66th minute through Colin Ryan. Cronin looked to have won it two minutes from time with a second goal for the Rebels but late points Tony Kelly and Ryan (free) forced extra-time.

During the game, Clare registered a massive tally of 24 wides. The hit and miss nature of their shooting was summed up by one of their best players on the day – Colin Ryan. The Newmarket-on-Fergus man, named at midfield but operating mainly in the half-forward line, shot 0-10 but he also hit eight wides. Clare racked up 31 points from 59 scoring opportunities. A goal never came, but Clare went close in extra-time as Peter Duggan forced a fine save from Anthony Nash.

This was a desperately disappointing setback for the Rebels – who have lost three times against Clare this season, twice in the National League and in a Waterford Crystal Cup tie. And Clare showed remarkable character to force extra-time as they trailed by two points with time running out. Pa Cronin scored Cork’s second goal in the 68th minute and the Rebels led by 2-17 to 0-21. But late scores from Tony Kelly, who bagged six points in total, and Ryan took the game into extra-time as the sides finished deadlocked at 0-23 to 2-17.

Cork had led by 0-11 to 0-07 at the end of a lacklustre first half and Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side played with the aid of a strong wind from the start. After Paudie O’Sullivan was foiled by Patrick Kelly’s fine save in the 51st minute, Cork bagged the game’s opening goal two minutes later, when Luke O’Farrell netted at the second attempt. That score took the wind out of Clare’s sails after Fitzgerald’s charges had fought back to within two points, 0-14 to 0-16. But they stuck at it and a run of five unanswered points from the 61st to 66th minutes pushed them a point clear, 0-21 to 1-17.

The final quarter of the game provided rich entertainment for 5,204 spectators but the Clare fans who made the short journey were fearing the worst when Cronin caught Conor Lehane’s delivery and booted home a second goal. But Clare had another kick in them and after drawing level again, they played the first half of extra-time with the breeze, going on to establish a 0-27 to 2-19 advantage at the turn. In the second period of extra-time, Clare managed to keep the Rebels at arm’s length to secure a priceless win. Cathal Naughton had a late chance to restore parity again but his rasping drive deflected over the crossbar off Brendan Bugler, one third of a rock-solid Clare half-back line. Patrick Horgan finished with a personal haul of 0-11 but still finished on the losing side.

CLARE: P Kelly (0-01f); D O’Donovan, D McInerney, S Morey; B Bugler, P Donnellan, P O’Connor; C Galvin (0-03), Conor Ryan; J Conlon (0-04), T Kelly (0-06), Colin Ryan (0-10, 6f); S O’Donnell, D Honan (0-02), P Collins (0-01).

Subs: C McGrath (0-02) for Conor Ryan (26), P Duggan for Collins (60), A O’Neill (0-01) for O’Donnell (70+1), J Clancy for Honan (80), F Lynch (0-01) for Duggan (85), S O’Donnell for Clancy (90).

CORK: A Nash; K Murphy, B Murphy, C O’Sullivan (0-01); S White, C Joyce, W Egan; L McLoughlin, D Kearney (0-01); C Lehane (0-01), P Cronin (1-03), P O’Sullivan; S Moylan (0-01), L O’Farrell (1-02), P Horgan (0-11, 6f, 1 65).

Subs: T Kenny for Kearney (53), C McCarthy (0-1) for Moylan (60), C Spillane for K Murphy (62), C Naughton (0-02) for White (67), M Walsh for McLoughlin (blood, 78), B Hartnett for P O’Sullivan (86), P O’Brien for Lehane (86).

Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath)

Team News

The Cork Senior Hurling team to play Clare on Sunday in the Allianz Hurling League Division 1A Relegation Play-off at 3pm in the Gaelic Grounds will line out as follows:

1. Anthony Nash

2. Shane O’Neill 3. Brian Murphy 4. Conor O’Sullivan

5. Stephen White 6. Christopher Joyce 7. William Egan

8. Lorcán McLoughlin 9. Daniel Kearney

10. Conor Lehane 11. Paudie O’Sullivan 12. Pa Cronin

13. Stephen Moylan 14. Luke O’Farrell 15. Patrick Horgan

16. Darren McCarthy Ballymartle

17. Kilian Murphy Erin’s Own

18. Mark Ellis Millstreet

19. Tom Kenny Grenagh

20. Colm Spillane Castlelyons

21. Michael Walsh Kildorrery

22. Rob O’Shea Carrigaline

23. Cian McCarthy Sarsfields

24. Brian Hartnett Midleton

25. Cathal Naughton Newtownshandrum

26. Peter O’Brien Kildorrery

The Cork team shows two changes from the team that lost to Kilkenny, as Shane O’Neill and William Egan return from injury, replacing Kilian Murphy and Cian McCarthy.

Match Preview

Clare v Cork, Gaelic Grounds, Limerick, 3pm

From the GAA.ie web site

Sunday, April 14

Allianz Hurling Division IA Relegation Play-Off

Such are the fine lines between success and failure in the top tier of the Allianz Hurling League, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to suggest that with a bit more luck Cork and Clare might just as easily be contesting a league semi-final rather than a shoot-out to see who drops down to Division IB in 2014.

Both sides went into their Round 5 games with realistic chances of making the semi-finals, but Cork were narrowly beaten by Kilkenny and Davy Fitzgerald’s Clare were beaten by Tipperary by a surprisingly large margin of 11 points.

While relegation to Division IB would not be a disaster for either side, Limerick’s plight – they are due to spend a fourth successive year in the second tier after losing to Dublin last Saturday – should serve as sufficient warning of just how tough a league it can be to get back out of. Then again, Dublin proved this year that it is possible to bounce back immediately after relegation from Division IA.

However, relegation would be very disappointing for either side, given their respective campaigns have shown flashes of real promise mixed with some equaling alarming lapses. Relegation would also have to be seen as a backward step for two very young and inexperienced sides who made significant progress under new managers in 2012.

Cork’s former All-Ireland winning defender, Alan Browne, said this week that relegation would be a major setback for Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side. “It would be absolute disaster. I think it would be very bad for Cork hurling,” the Blackrock man said.

Cork started their campaign superbly, beating Tipperary by 0-26 to 1-11 in a remarkable opening night performance, but the Rebels’ deficiencies were laid bare in the 1-16 to 1-22 defeat to Clare at Páirc Uí Rinn in Round 3. The margin of victory failed to do the Banner County’s dominance justice. Clare bossed the second half after trailing by 0-12 to 0-7 at the break, with Colin Ryan and Tony Kelly putting in majestic shifts and contributing 0-16 between them. Cork then drew with Galway before losing to the Cats when the pressure was on in the final game of the regulation stages.

The win over Cork proved to be the high-point of the Banner County’s campaign, as they lost their subsequent games to Kilkenny and then to Tipperary by a worrying 3-19 to 1-14.

“We don’t want to be going straight back down,” Clare’s All Star wing-back Brendan Bugler told the Irish Examiner this week. “We played well in this league but it was so competitive, bitterly disappointing to lose two games by only a point.”

Nicky O’Connell (back) and Seán Collins are injury concerns for Clare, while Cathal McInerney is definitely ruled out. Cork have made two changes from the side that lost to Kilkenny two weeks ago, with Shane O’Neill and William Egan drafted into the side in defence in place of Kilian Murphy and Cian McCarthy.