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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019
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Cork's comeback, Horgan and Harnedy shine, Clare's barren Munster spell continues

For the second year on the bounce, Cork saw off Clare in a Munster decider.

Seamus Harnedy fired home Cork's second goal of the game.
Seamus Harnedy fired home Cork's second goal of the game.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

1. Cork comeback sees them reach the Munster summit again

For the first time since 2005-06, Cork have completed back-to-back Munster hurling title wins. To triumph this year while operating in a new round-robin structure, enhances the achievement. It takes Cork’s unbeaten run in Munster to eight games over the course of the last two summers.

Their prospects of securing the spoils today looked shaky when Peter Duggan swung to the net for Clare’s second goal and John Conlon continued his tour de force a minute later to push the Banner advantage out to eight. But Cork bagged 1-1 in an admirable response before the interval and took off in the second half to overtake Clare. They had moved out of sight by the finish and grasped the trophy after a major revival.

2. Horgan and Harnedy shine for Cork

It was an afternoon where Cork again racked up an impressive tally on the scoreboard as they registered 2-24. With 1-15 of that total supplied by two players, it was clear that Patrick Horgan and Seamus Harnedy had a major influence on this game. Horgan struck 0-11, four efforts from open play evidence of his overall contribution, while Harnedy pitched in with 1-4 and a priceless assist in fetching the puckout to release Luke Meade for a goal before half-time.

In a difficult first-half for Cork, it was Horgan who stood tall as he weighed in with the six points his team notched between the 14th and 30th minutes. In the second half Harnedy changed the course of the game in wreaking havoc amongst the Clare rearguard. The individual showings today were in keeping with stellar showings this summer from the pair. Harnedy fired 3-14 in Munster, despite drawing a blank against Limerick, while Horgan has 1-42 to his credit, 1-15 from play, after five provincial outings.

3. Cork come to terms with Conlon threat

John Conlon entered the game in a rich vein of form, one of the best players in action to date in the 2018 hurling championship and his early showing indicated those standards were not about to slip. He had raised four white flags by the 18th minute before Cork detailed Colm Spillane to keep watch of the Clonlara man, Damien Cahalane moving out to the corner. By half-time Conlon had hit another point, won a free that was converted and Spillane was on a yellow card.

But it was crucial in the second half how Cork began to stifle his influence. Conlon didn’t score again and while he was fouled for another free that Duggan slotted, he was not permitted to claim as much clean possession. Spillane battled furiously under the dropping ball yet just as significantly Cork got more bodies around their goalmouth when deliveries landed and did not allow as much space for Conlon to thrive in one-on-one scenarios. It was a key factor in enabling their victory.

4. Clare’s barren Munster spell continues

And so Clare’s hopes of ending a two decade wait to secure a Munster title were thwarted. For the second successive year they were halted at the final hurdle but this loss is likely to be more wounding. They made such a positive start in this game, playing with great aggression, harnessing the energy from the vociferous Clare support and creating a sizeable gap of eight points before the break.

But by the interval that lead was not as handsome as Cork were only four adrift and Clare never hit full speed in the second half. They were outscored 2-15 to 1-8 after the 34th minute and that Clare goal arrived in a closing passage of play by Ian Galvin. The wait for provincial honours continues.

Colm Spillane with John Conlon Cork's Colm Spillane with Clare's John Conlon. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

5. Different All-Ireland series challenges await

With the provincial chapter closed, a new script awaits in the All-Ireland series. For Clare it will be a tricky task to life their morale after this huge disappointment. They have an All-Ireland quarter-final date in a fortnight, potentially against a Wexford team marshalled by Clare’s old boss Davy Fitzgerald.

For Cork, there is a four-week break now in store before they get the opportunity to avenge last year’s All-Ireland semi-final reversal. A few of their talented youngsters have a Munster U21 final date on Wednesday night against Tipperary but after that Cork will set their sights on managing the hiatus successfully to find their form in Croke Park.

Cork overcome 8-point deficit to defeat Clare and retain Munster hurling crown

Devaney inspires as Tipperary power to third Munster minor hurling title in four years

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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