13-man Cork survive Clare test in dramatic finish to All-Ireland hurling qualifier

The LIT Gaelic Grounds hosted today’s game.

Cork 3-19

Clare 1-23

CORK ADVANCED AND Clare exited but there was no certainty about that outcome as the final moments unfolded of this All-Ireland hurling qualifier in the baking afternoon heat in Limerick.

robert-downey-with-aron-shanagher Robert Downey with Aron Shanagher. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Since Clare reached the summit of hurling in 2013, they have endured a frustrating relationship with Cork in the championship arena, only winning one of the seven meetings since. They came desperately close to ending that losing streak. Cork were hanging on by the finish of this one, Jack O’Connor and Niall O’Leary both sent-off for second offences in the finale, although they held a seemingly commanding six-point lead entering injury-time.

Then in a dramatic burst of play, Rory Hayes split the posts and Tony Kelly netted from a penalty after he was hauled down himself. Two points was a precarious advantage and Clare had one last opportunity at the close.

It fell to their star man, the one manager Brian Lohan would have entrusted most at that moment. Tony Kelly hit 1-11 overall and he coped with a couple of defensive tackles to emerge before unleashing a right-handed blast.

Then goalkeeper Patrick Collins proved equal with an excellent and significant block. Cork scrambled for the rebound, were awarded a free out and the final whistle blasted soon after.

conor-cahalane-and-shane-kingston-celebrate-at-the-final-whistle Conor Cahalane and Shane Kingston celebrate at the final whistle. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The first half was frequently ragged, both teams struggling to achieve fluency on a boiling day for championship combat. The wide count read 10-7 in favour of Clare at the interval, the second quarter marked by poor Banner shooting. Cathal Malone lifted them with his input as he popped over three first-half points from play.

Both teams managed to notch 11 scores in the opening period but the critical factor was that two of Cork’s were strikes to the net. The timings were crucial with Jack O’Connor on target just before the first water break and then Shane Kingston rocking Clare with the second as the game drifted into added time.

O’Connor’s score was a wonderful individual effort. He was fed by Luke Meade and accelerated in from the right corner before despatching home his shot. Kingston’s arrived from a good team move, instigated by Seamus Harnedy and carried on by Kingston as he traded possession with Patrick Horgan before converting.

Cork’s tally could have been greater but Eibhear Quilligan tipped away another blistering shot by O’Connor and it took a retrieving Diarmuid Ryan hook to thwart Harnedy later on. The goals spurred Cork on to lead 1-5 to 0-6 at the water break and 2-9 to 0-11 at midfield, Clare staying close but not quite overtaking them.

darragh-fitzgibbon-with-colm-gavin Darragh Fitzgibbon with Colm Galvin.

Tony Kelly lit up the third quarter for Clare, registering five points with a few of those beautiful efforts from play in his trademark style. A brace from Aidan McCarthy helped Clare eat into Cork’s advantage, 2-14 to 0-18 by the second water break. They rattled off three points on the bounce upon the resumption, the last of those from Diarmuid Ryan edged them in front and the noise from the Banner support grew louder.

Cork looked to be on the ropes but they roused themselves after an indifferent phase. Between the 60th and 68th minute they outscored Clare 1-5 to 0-1. The most important score was their third goal, finished with assurance to the roof of the net by Shane Barrett but the strike owed much to vision of Seamus Harnedy who opted against taking a simple point by releasing the Blarney youngster.

It was a pivotal moment as seconds previously at the other end, Gary Cooney had a chance to drill home a Clare goal yet Robert Downey produced a heroic block. Downey deputising for Damien Cahalane, ruled out with appendicitis, shone in defence alongside the outstanding Sean O’Donoghue. 

Those foundations helped Cork prevail and a quarter-final beckons next weekend.

Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-10 (0-4f, 0-3 ’65), Shane Kingston, Shane Barrett 1-1 each, Jack O’Connor 1-0, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Seamus Harnedy 0-2 each, Luke Meade, Robbie O’Flynn, Alan Connolly 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 1-11 (0-7f, 1-0 pen), Cathal Malone 0-3, Aidan McCarthy 0-2, Rory Hayes, Diarmuid Ryan, Colm Galvin, Ian Galvin, Ryan Taylor, David McInerney, Shane Golden 0-1 each.


1. Patrick Collins (Ballinhassig)

4. Sean O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), 3. Robert Downey (Glen Rovers),  7. Ger Millerick (Fr O’Neills).

2. Niall O’Leary (Castlelyons), 6. Mark Coleman (Blarney), 5. Tim O’Mahony (Newtownshandrum).

8. Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville), 9. Luke Meade (Newcestown)

12. Robbie O’Flynn (Erins Own), 14. Shane Kingston (Douglas), 10. Seamus Harnedy (St Ita’s).

15. Jack O’Connor (Sarsfields), 11. Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers), 13. Alan Cadogan (Douglas).


24. Shane Barrett (Blarney) for Cadogan (half-time)

22. Conor Cahalane (St Finbarr’s) for O’Flynn (58)

25. Alan Connolly (Blackrock) for Kingston (60)

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26. Tadhg Deasy (Blackrock) for Harnedy (70)

21. Bill Cooper (Youghal) for Fitzgibbon (71)


1. Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

2. Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones), 3. Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay), 4. Paul Flanagan (Ballyea).

5. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), 6. John Conlon (Clonlara – captain), 18. David McInerney (Tulla).

9. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge),  15. Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin).

13. David Reidy (Éire Óg), 8. Colm Galvin (Clonlara), 11. Tony Kelly (Ballyea).

12. Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona), 10. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones), 14. Ian Galvin (Clonlara).


19. Mark Rodgers (Scarriff) for Ian Galvin (28)

25. Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge) for Rodgers (51)

17. Jack Browne (Ballyea) for Colm Galvin (56)

24. Gary Cooney (O’Callaghan Mills) for Shanagher (65)

Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from LIT Gaelic Grounds

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