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Reeling in the years: 9 of the biggest moments in the Cork v Clare rivalry

Cork and Clare go head-to-head on Sunday and we look back on some previous encounters featuring drama, robberies and some pre-match pleasantries..

EXCITEMENT LEVELS ARE reaching fever-pitch as Cork and Clare prepare for a first-ever meeting between the two counties in an All-Ireland SHC final.

The novel pairing in the September showdown have of course crossed paths on numerous occasions in Munster over the years including facing off in 11 Munster finals since 1901.

Those 12 games (the 1928 final went to a replay) have produced a staggering 72 goals between them, an average of six goals per final meeting. Should these two exciting young teams match that average on Sunday we are in for a memorable afternoon’s entertainment.

Here we look at some of the most important moments in the history of this great fixture.

1. 1914- Before the curse

Jim O’Hehir, father of the legendary broadcaster Michael O’Hehir, trained Clare to their second Munster senior hurling crown, and the first won on the pitch, after their 1899 triumph came via a walk-over.

It was a major surprise at the time as Cork had won 11 titles since 1890 and seemed to set the Banner up to become a major force in Munster and Ireland.  The Clare men did go on to capture  a first-ever All-Ireland that year but would have to wait another 81 years before they reached the top of the pile again.

2. Cork regain control

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Sean O’Leary. Pic: INPHO/Billy Stickland

In 1972 Cork and Clare clashed for the first time in forty years in a Munster final and the men from Leeside showed who was boss with a massive 6-18 to 2-8 victory over Clare on a day when the brilliant Cork inside forward line of Charlie McCarthy, Ray Cummins and Seanie O’Leary ran riot.

It was Clare’s heaviest defeat in a Munster decider since 1918 and the game saw a new era of dominance for Cork in the rivalry between the two counties.

3. 1977 Cork take a classic and thieves take the cash

This was the era of one of the greatest Clare teams of all time. Clare contested three League finals in a row from 1976-1978 losing the first to Kilkenny before beating the Cats in the following two Spring deciders. In Munster the team of Seamus Durack, Ger Loughnane, Séan Stack and Johnny Callinan fought their way to a Munster final in 1977 and frightened the life out of the reigning champions in a cracking provincial shoot-out.

Clare conceded an early penalty but they fought back to take the lead until a contentious red card for full back Jim Power turned the tide for Cork and they fought on win 4-15 4-10.

The day went down in infamy when it was discovered after the match that armed robbers had made away with the takings from the gate of £24,579 during the second-half of the game.

YouTube: Conor Ryan

4. 1978 Clare’s greatest chance disappears

Ger Loughnane said it was the end of the road for this particular Clare side as they faced off once more against the blood and bandages in a repeat of the ’77 decider. Again Clare were National League champions and again Cork were defending All-Ireland champions having retained their crown the previous September.

This encounter would be nothing like the high-scoring clash of twelve months before but it did include this cracking point from Loughnane after some fancy stickwork from goalkeeper Durack. Cork won in the end, 0-13 to 0-10 and went on to complete the three-in-a-row that autumn.

YouTube: hockeyhurlingshinty4

5. 1995 Seanie’s injury and late, late drama

Having suffered demoralising defeats in the 1993 and 1994 Munster Finals, Clare came into 1995 with a battle-hardened attitude and one of the first teams to encounter their never-say-die attitude was Cork in the Munster semi-final. This was a ding-dong affair but Cork looked to have sealed it when Kevin Murray scrambled a goal in the last minute to put Cork two points clear.

There was still time for one more Clare attack though and an injured Sean McMahon managed to force Cork into conceding a sideline puck deep in their own half. The ball was swung in and Ollie Baker found the room to flick the ball to the net. Cue pandemonium and the start of the greatest era of hurling ever seen.

YouTube: Bryansford Gael

6. Cork’s kids come good

Clare were the team that everyone wanted to beat by 1999 and having annexed Munster titles in 1997 and 98 they were favourites to make it three-in-row against Jimmy Barry Murphy’s youthful Cork side. Joe Deane’s early goal gave Cork the perfect start as they shocked Ger Loughnane’s men to take a first Munster crown in seven years.

YouTube: LovelyHurling Ire

7. Cork comeback breaks Clare hearts

Cork were defending  Munster and All Ireland champions and going for three in a row of Liam McCarthy triumphs but they found themselves trailing late in the second half against Anthony Daly’s side. With Niall Gilligan and Tony Griffin in fine form up front Clare took a six point lead early in the second half. Cork refused to panic though and gradually they clawed their way back into the game in a gripping All-Ireland semi-final

YouTube: Conor Ryan

8. Semple-gate

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INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The 2007 Munster quarter-final is remembered for all the wrong reasons as Cork and Clare waged war even before the opening whistle in Semple Stadium. Both sides came flying out of their respective dressing rooms at the same time and the controversy that followed over-shadowed Cork’s 1-18 to 1-11 victory. The fall-out was felt across the summer  as Clare saw four players suspended and Cork three in the immediate aftermath of a dour game.

9. Cork stun fancied Clare

The two counties have already clashed once this season in the championship with Jimmy-Barry Murphy once again working the oracle to guide his new look Cork side into a Munster final.

Clare were favourites to overcome the Leesiders but Cork emerged winners in the Gaelic Grounds by eight points, 0-23 to 0-15.  Is that a sign of things to come when the two sides face each other this weekend in Croke Park and is it the beginning of a new and intense chapter in the Cork Clare rivalry?

YouTube: hjtvsports1

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About the author:

Cormac O'Malley

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