Fintan O’Toole reports from Mallow
EARLY SEASON DRAMA on the second Saturday of January as Stephen Sherlock bundled home an injury-time goal to hand Cork a McGrath Cup final victory against Clare on a freezing evening in Mallow.
Sherlock got the finishing touch after a goalmouth scramble deep in injury-time as he raised a green flag for the second time in the game.
It clinched an eventual victory for a Cork side who had been ten points clear approaching half-time but were overhauled by a stirring Clare revival that looked set to clinch honours.
Cork were lifted early on as they rattled the Clare net twice inside the opening six minutes. Firstly Mark Collins slotted a shot to the net as he profited from a surging run by Kevin Crowley and then Stephen Sherlock escaped the clutches of the inside Clare rearguard before hammering a left-foot strike to the roof of the net.
Cork kept their grip on the action during the first half with Michael Hurley and Cathal Vaughan popping over points from an array of angles. They had cruised clear 2-8 to 0-4 approaching the midway mark before Conor Finnucane’s quick thinking released Clare full-forward Keelan Sexton and he finished with aplomb for a timely goal.
That left Clare seven points adrift entering the second half and they wiped out that advantage with a salvo of 1-4 without reply by the 46th minute. Alan Sweeney supplied the goal before Gearoid O’Brien hit the net for the third time for his team in the 52nd minute.
With corner-forwards Eimhin Courtney and Conor Finnucane both lively and capable of picking off points, Clare stayed in the ascendancy.
Cork wheeled some of their more experienced figures off the bench and poured forward in search of scores to rescue the match. Padraig Clancy cannoned one shot off the crossbar, Sherlock saw another effort deflected wide before the St Finbarr’s man provided the vital touch in injury-time to settle the contest.
Scorers for Cork: Stephen Sherlock 2-3 (0-3f), Michael Hurley 0-4, Mark Collins 1-1, Cathal Vaughan 0-3 (0-1f), Daniel O’Callaghan, Cian Kiely 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: Conor Finucane 0-5 (0-2f), Keelan Sexton, Gearóid O’Brien 1-1 each, Alan Sweeney 1-0, Eimhin Courtney 0-3, Cathal O’Connor (0-1 ’45), Darragh Bohannon 0-1 each.
1. Mark White (Clonakilty)
2. Sam Ryan (St Finbarr’s)
3. Conor Dorman (Bishopstown)
4. Michael McSweeney (Newcestown)
5. Padraig Clancy (Fermoy)
6. Kevin Flahive (Douglas)
7. Cian Kiely (Ballincollig)
8. Jamie O’Sullivan (Bishopstown – captain)
9. Daniel O’Callaghan (Clyda Rovers)
10. Sean White (Clonakilty)
11. Kevin Crowley (Millstreet)
12. Michael Hurley (Castlehaven)
13. Cathal Vaughan (Iveleary)
14. Mark Collins (Castlehaven)
15. Stephen Sherlock (St Finbarr’s)
24. Cian Dorgan (Ballincollig) for Vaughan (inj) (34)
23. John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers) for Crowley (53)
20. Ian Maguire (St Finbarr’s) for Dorman (53)
22. Sean Powter (Douglas) for O’Callaghan (54)
21. Ruairi Deane (Bantry Blues) for Collins (55)
18. Dylan Quinn (St Finbarr’s) for Sean White (56)
1. Killian Roche (Cooraclare)
2. Eanna O’Connor (Éire Óg)
3. Cillian Brennan (Clondegad)
4. Gordon Kelly (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay)
24. Tom Hannan (St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield)
6. Aaron Fitzgerald (Éire Óg)
7. Jamie Malone (Corofin)
8. Sean O’Donoghue (Cooraclare)
9. Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen – captain)
10. Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare)
11. Alan Sweeney (St Breckan’s)
12. Kieran Malone (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay)
13. Eibhin Courtney (Éire Óg)
14. Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry-Ibrickane)
15. Conor Finnucane (Lissycasey)
18. Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis) for Jamie Malone (inj) (4)
17. Darragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels) for O’Donoghue (half-time)
20. David Egan (Kilmihil) for Kieran Malone (half-time)
22. Gearóid O’Brien (Kilrush) for Hannan (half-time)
23. Martin O’Leary (Kilmihil) for Sweeney (60)
19. Jonah Culligan (Ballyvaughan) for Collins (60)
Referee: Seamus Mulvihill (Kerry)
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