Clare look to reclaim some pride for the Munster peloton
Munster SFC semi-final: Clare v Cork, Sunday, Cusack Park, Ennis, 3.30
Clare manager Mick O’Dwyer will be hoping his side can put up a decent fight against Cork. Photograph: Inpho
There is a sense in Clare that tomorrow’s match in Ennis is about more than a place in next month’s provincial final.
With Cork and Kerry having so far cut a swathe through the other counties in Munster, the home county is mindful that they need a decent display to lower the growing volume of suggestions that the open draw be dropped.
Clare are the last of the Division Four teams to take the field and already they are at a disadvantage against a Cork side, which has already tap-danced its way across Limerick in the quarter-finals to the tune of 18 points.
Their opponents, remember, won the division in April’s league finals and so are on paper the best of the Munster peloton.
Limerick were however taken aback by how aggressive Cork were from the start and how relentless their running game proved.
Manager Conor Counihan also introduced six newcomers to the Munster senior championship but the impact was unflagging, vindication of the theory that young players will prove eager and enthusiastic even in matches that all but qualify as un-losable.
How reliable the new implants will be at the top level awaits to be seen when Cork move on to the provincial final against Kerry in three weeks time but so far so good.
Mick O’Dwyer has been carefully defining his role as more of a consultancy position in the past week or so but if he manages to wreak his usual championship transformation on the team they may be able to stem the flow but they won’t be at full strength, with Michael O’Shea top scorer from play last year missing out, magnifying what is already a massive challenge.
Last year’s 12-point defeat in the Munster final flattered Cork in terms of the general exchanges but that’s what happens when top teams get the opportunity and three goals by half-time had put the matter to bed.
The problem for Clare is that injuries leave them looking less prepared to cope than 11 months ago.
Last meeting: 2012 Munster final, Cusack Park, a comfortable win for Cork on a scoreline of 3-16 to 0-13.
Odds: Cork 1 to 50, Clare 14 to 1 and 33 to 1 the draw.
Injuries: Cork continue to list Aidan Walsh in the replacements. He was withdrawn before the Limerick match with a dead leg but was expected to be fit for the game tomorrow. Clare are without defender Enda Coughlan and forward Michael O’Shea.
Just the ticket: Stand (covered) €20, stand (uncovered) and terrace €15. Under-16s free into uncovered stand and terrace.
Cork: K O’Halloran; E Cadogan, M Shields, D Cahalane; J Loughrey, G Canty, Tomás Clancy; A O’Connor, P O’Neill; C Sheehan, P Kelly, J O’Rourke; D Goulding, B Hurley, P Kerrigan.
Referee: Derek Fahy (Longford).
Verdict: Cork to win.