Clare won their first McGrath Cup since 2008 after a strong finish against Cork in “Hennessey Park” Milltown Malbay on Saturday afternoon. Cork fielded a very young side here and, in a week, where their new five-year football plan was launched, this result shows just how far they have to go to get back to the top table.
Still the sides were level with ten minutes to play, but points from Keelan Sexton (2) and Dean Ryan clinched the win for the home team who had easily defeated Waterford the previous Sunday.
Clare didn’t just finish the match impressively, they got off to a good start also when an eight-minute long-range goal from Gordon Kelly gave them some early impetus after Cian Kiely had opened the scoring with a Cork point. Clare built on that confidence against a Cork side that could only manage three points in the opening half with Stephen Sherlock getting the other two from free’s.
Leading 1-3 to 0-3 at half-time, Clare stretched their advantage to five points early in the second-half with Gary Brennan and Keelan sexton on target before Cork scored five points in a row to level the game by the 50th minute as it looked as if Cork were the team with the momentum coming down the home straight. Clare however dug deep in front of their own fans and came with a late scoring burst to capture the first silverware of the season. Cork had midfielder James Fitzpatrick sin-binned midway through the half and that took a bit out of their play as well. Clare who meet Cork in Ennis in the league in a month’s time will be the happier side, although they were a lot closer to their starting team than Cork.
For Cork football it is another setback and while no one will be getting carried away with this defeat, it still shows just how far Cork has fallen. Some credit must go to the home side who like Cork will be operating in division 2 this season but from a Clare stand point this win over Cork will be a huge confidence booster to the Banner boys, with team captain Gary Brennan picking up the McGrath Cup from Munster Council Chairman Jerry O’Sullivan.
Cork: S Sherlock, M Collins and D Gore 0-2 each, C Kiely, E McSweeney and P Kelleher 0-1 each.
Clare: K Sexton 0-4, G Kelly 1-0, C o’Connor and G Brennan 0-2 each and D Ryan 0-1.
and Stephen Sherlock.
Damien Gore for S Sherlock,
Nathan Walsh for S Ryan,
Kevin O’Donovan for J O’Rourke,
Tadgh Corkery for C Kiely
and Blake Murphy for S Cronin.
Gary Brennan Capt
and Kieran Malone.
Sean O’Donoghue for D O’Halloran,
Keelan Sexton for G Cooney,
Gearoid O’Brien for K Malone,
David Tubridy for D Bohannon
and Sean Collins for D Coughlan.
Referee: Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry)