Cork welcomed Clare to Pairc Uí Rinn on Saturday night for their third outing in the Allianz League. Defeat away to Kilkenny in Nolan Park and at home to Wexford in Pairc Uí Chaoimh, left Cork in desperate need of a win as they took on Clare in this winner take all contest. Victory would bring Cork their first points, while defeat would all but end their league interest with two rounds still remaining, so there was a lot riding on the outcome.
Cork had captain Seamus Harnedy back in action, but Colm Spillane, Mark Coleman and Darragh Fitzgibbon were all still out while Alan Cadogan was named on a very young subs bench.
A 16-point haul from sharpshooter Patrick Horgan and a goal from team captain Seamus Harnedy helped Cork to win this tight contest in front of over 4,000 paying customers at cold and blustery Pairc Uí Rinn last Saturday night.
In a strange game, 15 of Horgan’s scores came from frees as Clare committed fouls at an alarming rate, especially in the second half. Cork didn’t lead at all in the first half and it wasn’t until the 68th minute of the game that they amassed an advantage of greater than a point. However, four of the last five points went their way, meaning that they join four other counties in a tie for second place in the table, behind leaders Limerick.
For much of the game, it looked like Clare would edge it as they played with a greater fluency in attack, typified by the wonderful performance of Tony Kelly, who finished with six points. In addition, Ian Galvin and John Conlon both scored four points, all from play.
Clare began well as Conlon pointed after claiming a good Kelly side-line cut before Diarmuid Ryan launched a fine score from his own 65th.
Though two Horgan frees had Cork level, Clare were enjoying far more of the play and soon moved 0-5 to 0-2 ahead. While Horgan replied with another free, this time from the left side-line, Kelly combined beautifully with Colm Galvin to restore the three-point advantage. However, Cork managed to draw level on 22 minutes. Séamus Harnedy’s intention was to find the full-forward line when he sent the ball in from the 65 but goalkeeper Keith Hogan misjudged and the ball crossed the line, despite the best efforts of corner-back Jack Browne.
Peter Duggan (free) and Ryan put Clare ahead again, but Horgan ensured that Cork were level by half-time, 1-6 to 0-9, with the hosts not having a point from open play until the 33rd minute. Horgan was on hand again early in the second half to put Cork ahead on three occasions, but Clare replied each time and hit the front again thanks to another Peter Duggan free on 47 minutes.
Each time Clare forged ahead, though, Cork would win a free and Horgan would do the needful. Ultimately, the home side were able to get the upper hand and they pushed clear in the closing stages to record their first win of the campaign.
Cork will face Clare again in Ennis in their final Munster championship encounter so a victory over Clare sets down a marker of sorts for later in the summer as Cork again got the upper hand of a Clare side that at times looked super in attack, but their defence gave away far too many free’s and they ultimately paid the penalty with a marksman of the calibre of Patrick Horgan on the opposition side.
Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-16 (15fs), Séamus Harnedy 1-1, Tim O’Mahony, Daniel Kearney, Jamie Coughlan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 0-6, Ian Galvin, John Conlon, Peter Duggan (3fs, 165) 0-4 each, Diarmuid Ryan 0-2.
Subs: Luke Meade for Murphy (49),
Darren Browne for Griffin (60),
Alan Cadogan for Coughlan (both 60).
Ryan Taylor for Golden (53),
Colin Guilfoyle for Duggan (61),
Mikey O’Neill for Collins (63),
Aidan McCarthy for FitzGerald (65).
REFEREE: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary).