Cork retain Munster SHC title
Munster Senior Hurling Final
CORK 2-24 CLARE 3-19
By John Fallon at Semple Stadium
Cork captured their 54th Munster senior hurling title when they came from behind with a powerful second-half display to oust Clare in a gripping final in Thurles.
It’s the first time Cork have retained their Munster title since 2006 and they will now advance to the All-Ireland semi-final.
Clare’s hopes of a first Munster final win over the Rebels since 1932 looked good when they opened up an eight point lead approaching the break.
But the Munster champions finished the half strongly, cutting the gap to four to go in trailing by 2-11 to 1-10.
As expected, there was little between the sides in the opening half and they were level four times in the opening quarter before Clare surged in front.
John Conlon was superb for Clare in the opening half, shooting 0-5 by half-time in a devastating display.
Clare got a huge breakthrough after 17 minutes when Tony Kelly raced through to set up David Reidy for an excellent goal.
Conlon and Patrick Horgan exchanged points but two more efforts from Peter Duggan made it 1-8 to 0-6 after 22 minutes.
Horgan kept Cork in touch with three frees after Duggan had landed another at the other end.
Conlon continued to torment the Rebels’ defence but it was Duggan who struck the next biggest blow when he superbly connected overhead to dispatch a long free from his goalkeeper Donal Tuohy to the net after 33 minutes.
Conlon landed his fifth point to make it 2-11 to 0-9 but Cork rallied before the break.
Captain Seamus Harnedy grabbed a puckout from Anthony Nash before setting up Luke Meade and he finished brilliantly to the net, with Mark Coleman landing a sideline from distance to cut the margin to four by the break.
Cork got on top in midfield in the second-half with big performances from Darragh Fitzgibbon and Bill Cooper while Colm Spillane held Conlon scoreless after the restart.
Cork’s dominance after the restart was reflected in outscoring Clare by 0-6 to 0-1.
Harnedy pushed Cork in front for the first time in the game after 48 minutes and Clare never led after that.
But the Bannermen got back on level terms 13 minutes from the end when Conor McGrath pointed from the left.
They were unable to edge in front and Cork took a major step towards retaining their crown when Fitzgibbon, Daniel Kearney and Cooper combined to set up Harnedy and the Cork captain blasted to the net to lead by 2-18 to 2-15 with eleven minutes remaining.
Podge Collins responded with a point for Clare but Daniel Kearney and Harnedy extended Cork’s lead to four with seven minutes remaining.
The sides exchanged points three times before Horgan’s eleventh point of the game put five between them and while Ian Galvin got a late goal for Clare, Cork held on to retain their crown.
Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-11 (0-6f, 0-1 65), Seamus Harnedy 1-4, Luke Meade 1-1, Mark Coleman 0-2 (0-1sl), Darragh Fitzgibbon 0-2, Daniel Kearney 0-2, Bill Cooper 0-1, Conor Lehane 0-1.
Scorers for Clare: Peter Duggan 1-7 (0-6f), David Reidy 1-2, John Conlon 0-5, Ian Galvin 1-0, Podge Collins 0-2, Colm Galvin 0-1, Tony Kelly 0-1, Conor McGrath 0-1.
CORK: Anthony Nash; Colm Spillane, Damien Cahalane, Sean O’Donoghue; Christopher Joyce, Eoin Cadogan, Mark Coleman; Darragh Fitzgibbon, Bill Cooper; Luke Meade, Daniel Kearney, Shane Kingston; Patrick Horgan, Conor Lehane, Seamus Harnedy. Subs: Robbie O’Flynn for Kingston (60), Micheal Cahalane for Meade (64), Lorcan McLaughlin for Kearney (66), Dean Brosnan for McLaughlin (73).
CLARE: Donal Tuohy; Jack Browne, Patrick O’Connor, David McInerney; Jamie Shanahan, Conor Cleary, Seadna Morey; Colm Galvin, Cathal Malone; Peter Duggan, Tony Kelly, David Reidy; Podge Collins, John Conlon, Shane O’Donnell. Subs: Jason McCarthy for Malone (50), Conor McGrath for O’Donnell (55), David Fitzgerald for Shanahan (60), Darragh Corry for Reidy (63), Iain Galvin for Cleary (68).
Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath).