Clare stun Cork with brilliant second half
Rebels lose their unbeaten record in league
Clare’s Shane O'Donnell battles with Brian Murphy of Cork during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1A match at Páirc Uí Rinn. Photograph: Donall Farmer
Clare’s hurling revival gained further impetus with a stunning second-half fightback, which floored previously unbeaten Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn.
The home side appeared to be coasting, when leading by 0-14 to 0-8 three minutes after the interval only to be swept away by an avalanche of Clare scores as the Banner county outscored their hosts 1-14 to 1-2 in a sensational 27 minutes.
Cork’s defence came under constant bombardment and the pressure told in the shape of yellow cards to full-back Brian Murphy and captain Patrick Cronin and William Egan in the half-back line as Clare picked off their scores impressively.
Davy Fitzgerald gave himself the night off from media inquiries and selector Mike Deegan stepped in to offer Clare’s perspective.
“I thought our half-back line really dominated after the break. They were all at sea early on. We weren’t clued in at all in the first half. There was a lot of confusion around our midfield and the half-backs, but they got it together.
“Patrick Donnellan was outstanding at centre-back and played a real captain’s role while Brendan Bugler and Pat O’Connor were also very impressive. That line made a big difference,” he said.
The performance of ace marksman Colin Ryan was also highly significant in Clare’s second win, which put them on top of Division One.
The Newmarket-on-Fergus player gave an exhibition of free-taking in his 12-point return and showed he’s not overly reliant on placed balls as he also chipped in with three from play.
“Colin’s free-taking was unbelievable. He’s fantastic at frees and didn’t miss one, which was amazing because none of them were what you’d call handy, especially the ones in the first half which were out near the corner and from difficult angles,” added Deegan.
Another major factor in Clare’s success was the performance of goalkeeper Patrick Kelly, who denied Stephen Moylan in the first half and Paudie O’Sullivan in the second with brave saves, making himself big to get his body in the way of powerful shots from close range.
“In fairness he won the match for us against Galway the previous week and Patrick made some cracking saves again. Fair play to him. He’s in there to do a job and he’s doing it very well,” said Deegan.
Cork could have been out of sight by the interval. Despite leading by 0-12 to 0-7 they also registered 10 wides with Patrick Horgan’s marksmanship from frees the main supply of scores once again.
But, it was the manner of their second-half collapse which bothered selector Kieran Kingston most of all.
“There was a 15-point turnaround in a game of hurling at home and that is clearly unacceptable. The only positive was the performance of the full-back line, which was superb all through.
“We just didn’t compete after half-time. We scored four points from play in the second-half and got a consolation goal in injury-time. It’s simply not good enough. We were totally overran in the closing 20 minutes.
“Credit Clare, though. Once they got a sniff of victory they really went for it and we were well beaten. There are no excuses.
“It’s back to the drawing board to see where we are, especially with two tough away games to come against Galway and Kilkenny,” he said.
Clare’s goal after 62 minutes ended all doubts about the outcome. Nicky O’Connell started the move with a short pass to substitute Fergal Lynch, who picked out Shane O’Donnell with a long delivery from the right.
The Éire Óg player had the pace and strength to shrug off Brian Murphy’s tackle before beating Anthony Nash at the second attempt to put his side 1-20 to 0-16 in front. Many in the 7,287 crowd were headed for the exits and they missed Cork’s consolation goal in injury-time from Luke O’Farrell.