INPHO/Cathal Noonan Clare's Cian Dillon and Domhnall O'Donovan tackle Luke O'Farrell of Cork.
expert view
Daithi Regan: 'I've never seen anything to match yesterday's finale'’s hurling columnist reviews Cork and Clare’s showdown in Croke Park.

IN OFFALY, WE know that we were involved in one of the most famous conclusions ever to an All-Ireland senior hurling final.

1994 in Croke Park. Five minutes left. Offaly trail Limerick by 2-13 to 1-11. Then we hit 2-5 without reply and suddenly we were All-Ireland champions.

Being involved in the game it is difficult to determine was that the most dramatic finale to an All-Ireland decider. But I have never seen anything to match yesterday’s finale in Croke Park.

Domhnall O’Donovan fits comfortably into the category of unlikely All-Ireland final heroes and he showed great composure to land that point for Clare.

I was listening to his interview on the radio as I drove home last night and his explanation of why he went forward was incredibly interesting.

He displayed phenomenal intelligence as he spoke about how his job was done as a defender at that stage and he needed to run forward to join the attack. I found it astonishing that he had that clarity of thought at such a dramatic part of the game. He was rewarded in style and was the Clare hero.

Referee in the spotlight…

The game ended with Brian Gavin in the spotlight over the issue of the amount of injury-time played and there has been plenty debate about his performance in the game.

Some observers feel that he favoured Cork while the first friend that I spoke to after game thought that Clare benefited most from the decisions. Different eyes see different things. Brian didn’t have his greatest day but I still think he is a brilliant referee.

Looking at the reaction of the two camps, there was a marked contrast in their view of the referee during the game. JBM was a picture of tranquility on the sideline. His players never saw him panicking even though I’m sure he was unhappy at stages.

Davy was different. It is well-known in the GAA are if you give the referee a hard time, you cannot expect favours in return. Davy must start to show discipline on the sideline and cannot be questioning so many of the referee’s decisions.

If managers are not disciplined on the sideline, it is unlikely they can expect favours in return from the referee. It smacks of gross indiscipline and does not transmit well to the players on the pitch who are expected to show restraint themselves.

Clare’s early dominance…

Clare are brilliant at what they do and they showed extreme composure team for such a young team. They attacked everything from the start and played really intelligent hurling.

To be only two points up at the break will have disappointed them. For a team as dominant as they were, they should have bagged at least one goal.

The one chance they had in the first-half fell to Darach Honan but his shot was saved well by Anthony Nash. It probably should have been put to the net but the ground shot was not struck cleanly and Nash denied Clare.

I asked John Allen during the game was he surprised to see Clare were not playing a sweeper but the point was made that Clare had previously been trying to stop specific forwards. Cork had no one in the mould of Joe Canning that Clare needed to curb the threat of.

It was very astute by Davy and I felt they absolutely dominated the Cork forwards in the first-half. Davy won the tactical battle hands down, especially when you consider that Seamus Harnedy was Cork’s best forward and his performance was not exceptional.

Cork’s response…

How did Cork fight back? The goals all came at a critical juncture. The first two were met with a great response from Clare. But the third one was vital as it brought them level at a stage when time was running out.

Cork utilised deep running attackers effectively. Conor Lehane’s goal was a great individual effort while Stephen Moylan ran through to set up another. They showed great pace and that caused Clare problems.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy must learn to use these more and devise a specific plan to get the likes of Lehane running off his midfielders when in possession. Cork did not have a plan to hurt Clare and they must learn from that.

Clare have a potential weakness when forwards run at them that Cork could exploit in the replay if they can get their half-back line running back towards their own goal.

Cork have major scope for improvement. When thinking about the leading players in the game, there was not a single one from Cork that stood out for me.

The man-of-the-match contenders were all from Clare. Brendan Bugler was magnificent, Cork couldn’t handle Podge Collins all day, Domhnall O’Donovan owned his area of defence and hit the most important point of the game while Conor Ryan deserved to get the eventual award.


There’s some complaints about the time for the replay and the fact that it is not on a Sunday. It’s certainly an unusual date and time.

But none of that will matter in a few weeks when we have a packed house in Croke Park excitedly awaiting the throw-in. It’s been such a unique and magical year, and that’s how it is all set to finish.

‘Oh Holy Moses’ – Marty Morrissey’s brilliant commentary at the end yesterday

GAA confirms throw-in time for Cork v Clare hurling final replay

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