Patrick Horgan and Shane O'Donnell starred as their teams won. INPHO

'We were a bit sloppy around the place': Now Cork and Clare set for semi-final battles

Croke Park is calling Cork and Clare, but it was disappointment for Dublin and Wexford.

All-Ireland quarter-final results

  • Cork 0-26 Dublin 0-21
  • Clare 2-28 Wexford 1-19


1. Cork get job done to set up Limerick rematch

After the disquiet sparked by the fixture arrangements for these quarter-finals, the action that unfolded confirmed one suspicion – lunchtime hurling is not a concept that looks like it will catch fire. Cork against Dublin was a game largely drained of colour, a lacklustre tie that ended in a five-point win for Pat Ryan’s team.

The victorious manager readily agreed it was not a contest that ever truly ignited.

“I suppose it was a bit dead. I think you could see, it’s very hard to have a really high-standard match at quarter past one on a Saturday and that’s what we saw. It was devoid of energy all over the place.

“In fairness to Dublin, they play a very good running game and it’s hard to get traction at times and they shoot from distance. It becomes a bit congested and a bit unorthodox, really.”

Given their season was on the brink after the opening two rounds in Munster, Cork will be heartened to have strung together four wins on the spin. Their two displays over the last week have been more subdued. The Dalton-Barrett-Harnedy half-forward line excelled in the opening half, Patrick Horgan was sharp from the off.

Cork’s form noticeably dipped in the final quarter as Dublin chipped away at the deficit. After 15 goals in five games, this was the first championship tie where Cork drew a blank. The scope for improvement is clear, it will be needed given the force that is coming down the tracks to meet them in Limerick.

pat-ryan-with-patrick-horgan Cork manager Pat Ryan with Patrick Horgan. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

2. Clare turn on style in Munster final response

Amidst the dejection of another Munster final loss at the hands of Limerick, Brian Lohan searched for some positivity by pointing to his team’s previous shows of resilience when faced with such setbacks. They did just that yesterday, for the third year in succession they surmounted the quarter-final hurdle placed in front of them.

And they did so in style. The advantage of an extra man for the second half was a clear element in their favour but they exploited it. The intrigue in Clare’s display lay in the dividend reaped from changes, both positional and in personnel. Tony Kelly and Shane O’Donnell were both terrific, deployed in deeper roles, as they scored a combined 1-10. David Reidy made a real impact from the off, Aron Shanagher provides an alternative focal point inside.

Clare’s challenge looked limp at times against the might of Limerick, here they regained some confidence and the willingness to shake things up provoked a strong reaction. The provincial title has been unattainable for the past three seasons, but are the league champions now in a place and mindset where they can end their losing semi-final streak at the hands of Kilkenny?

tony-kelly-with-fans-after-the-game Tony Kelly with Clare fans after the game. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

3. Dublin’s season drifts to disappointing close

Dublin ended the Leinster championship last month in a rousing fashion, they travelled to Salthill and coped with a demanding challenge to claim the required win and in the process, they booted Galway out of the 2024 race. There was deserved plaudits tossed in their direction in the wake of that victory, but the nature of their two subsequent performances have been a severe disappointment.

They were whipped by 16 points by Kilkenny in the Leinster decider, and while the gap against Cork was only five by the final whistle, Dublin encountered plenty problems for the majority of the day as Cork surged clear. It took a fightback, inspired by players like Chris Crummey and Conor Burke, to ensure they clawed back the deficit late on, but in truth the game was firmly gone from Dublin’s reach by early in the third quarter.

chris-crummey-dejected Chris Crummey after the match. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Dublin’s attacking approach made life difficult as Seán Currie was left too isolated close to goal in the first half. The customary reliability Donal Burke provides from frees was marked absent as he struck four wides. Micheál Donoghue has made strides with the team but Kilkenny and Cork have proved familiar foes they could not overcome. This was the third time in five campaigns Dublin suffered a championship loss at the hands of Cork in Thurles.

4. Wexford can’t push on as red card setback his them hard

For the second time in three seasons, Wexford found themselves nudged towards the championship exit door by Clare after a quarter-final meeting. This was a tougher pill to swallow, the four-point margin in 2022 had swelled to 14 points here.

Their fortunes hinged on that critical phase before half-time. Lee Chin’s goal from a penalty enabled Wexford to thunder into the game as they drew level. But then Rory O’Connor, a chief architect behind their revival, was sent-off, his first yellow card a decision that manager Keith Rossiter found hard to stomach. Being robbed of O’Connor hit Wexford hard, stripping their team of an electric talent, and forced them to try to cope with 14 men for the entire second half against a confident Clare side.

cathal-dunbar-dejected Cathal Dunbar after Wexford's defeat. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Chin and Conor Foley attempted to keep Wexford ticking over on the scoreboard, they mounted a decent response to the concession of Clare’s first goal to cut the deficit to three, but collapsed under a wave of pressure as they were outscored 1-9 to 0-4 in the final quarter.

Given Wexford’s early championship struggles, reaching the All-Ireland last six represented an impressive turnaround. But the lack of a sustained challenge throughout this quarter-final means the season ends on a low note.

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