Cork hurlers have edge and energy Clare lack
Dublin were also very impressive in defeating Wexford without key man Danny Sutcliffe
Aidan Walsh of Cork, seen here battling with Clare’s Pat Donnellan and John Conlon, epitomised Cork’s superior resolve and desire in the Munster SHC semi-final at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
With about 10 minutes left Aidan Walsh intervened to knock out a ball heading for Podge Collins for a 65. The incident typified the most obvious aspect of this match – the relative energy levels of the teams.
Walsh looked like a senior inter-county player on a mission; Collins didn’t have that energy.
It was just one incident but it showed to me Clare were lacking the hunger and desire they had on their All-Ireland run-in last season. It was as if the medals had sated that hunger.
Cork, on the other hand, were fed off a diet of disappointment all winter after losing the replayed final. They knew they had problems and needed new players and despite not having had much success at under-age in recent years, they found them.
They brought in Walsh from the footballers and he’s been a huge find. His first high catch yesterday was reminiscent of Teddy McCarthy, except, with all due respect to Teddy, probably a bit higher even than that.
Add in Mark Ellis, who was good again yesterday, Bill Cooper, who if he wasn’t as prominent as against Waterford, made sure Colin Ryan didn’t have a big impact either, and Damien Cahalane, who admittedly came under pressure from Peter Duggan. Alan Cadogan was again dangerous and got frees.
DynamismI think the matches against Waterford really stood to them because Clare had none of that match practice and haven’t been able to relocate the dynamism their game depends on.
They may have some grievances about the referee’s decisions in that James McGrath awarded frees to Cork for tackles Clare fellas had to play through but this had no impact on the final result.
Every time they tried to go up a gear it didn’t happen for them. When they were trailing by five, Colm Galvin drove a ball wide and Colin Ryan missed a free.
Cork got over the Anthony Nash situation by transferring duties to Patrick Horgan and he hit two tremendous shots. I’d say the penalty had a lot of top spin but there was no way back for Clare.
Cork dominated midfield. As well as Walsh, Daniel Kearney played brilliantly and scored two great points. It was real Cork hurling: economical. Kearney’s not the biggest guy in a hugely competitive area of the pitch but he invariably did the right thing.
I was surprised at Darach Honan getting a run for so little time at the end as he caused more trouble than any of the other full forwards.
Cork have real momentum now and big support behind them for a home Munster final. They’re going to take beating there – and anywhere else this summer.
One of the interesting things about the summer is how relatively steady the form of 2013 has been. Of last year’s All-Ireland semi-finalists only Clare – suffering from the after-effects of last year – haven’t maintained the momentum.
Limerick and Cork are back in the Munster final and Dublin will be in the Leinster showdown next month as well. Saturday evening was a very good win for them, particularly facing into it without first-choice goalkeeper, All Star forward Danny Sutcliffe and doubts over Liam Rushe. In the end they were always able to keep Wexford at bay.
It was a great occasion. The huge crowd was just willing Wexford to corner Dublin and if they’d managed it, it would have been a very tight corner and they would have struggled to get out.
Instead, they kept afloat, most critically in the second quarter when Alan McCrabbe – a great addition to have back and excellent at finding scoring spaces that Wexford just couldn’t manage – got off some great shots to keep them in it and in the second half when Conal Keaney powered into it and took over to keep it beyond Wexford’s reach.
Dublin shouldn’t have been leading at half-time, though, and Wexford effectively never recovered from that.
Even after the break Wexford should have made more of their chances but instead, Dublin got away and when the margin slipped to three, they got it back out to six in no time.
It was a performance that showed their experience and the depth in the panel. This was gratifying for Anthony Daly, given Dublin’s “one season on, one season off” syndrome in the last few years. On this evidence they’ll be match for most.
From a Wexford point of view there were definite positives, although Liam Dunne is going to be disappointed. They have plenty of talented young players but inexperience led to over-anxiety and errors.
There were too many wides, a couple of picks off the ground and turning over a free.
Conor McDonald was outstanding on Dublin’s All Star full back Peter Kelly but Wexford didn’t get enough on the scoreboard for all of the possession he was wining and then in the key switch, Dublin moved Paul Schutte onto him and the threat became more manageable.
For the Leinster final Dublin will hope to have Sutcliffe back and Rushe improved with match practice. Going in as champions they’ll hardly find it as intimidating as at times in the past.