*Diarmuid Ryan. Photograph: Martin Connolly
Cork have booked their place in the Bord Gáis Munster U20 hurling final at the expense of Clare.
Venue: Páirc Uí Rinn
One has to go back to 2015 for the last time, Clare won a game in the U21 championship, this being the first year of it has been altered to U20, a statistic that must be a major concern for hurling followers in the county.
In a repeat pairing of the 2017 minor final, Clare did reduce the deficit from the seventeen point loss but not enough to overturn the result.
Clare started well following their trip Leeside, Mark Rodgers had them on the board inside twenty seconds with Cork registering their first via Brian Roche a minute later. The sides would swap scores on two further occasions to remain tied with ten minutes on the clock.
Following this positive spell, Cork began to take control with four of the next six scores. An excellent Diarmuid Ryan effort from distance would bring Sean Doyle’s side to within a point only for the Rebels to finish the half with white flags from Sean Twomey, Craig Hanafin and the lively Brian Turnbull to hold a four point advantage.
Midfielders Tommy O’Connell and Killian McDermott traded scores on the resumption with Craig Hanafin and Rian Considine doing likewise from placed balls. Clare cut the gap to two points thanks to Rodgers and Aidan Moriarty but Denis Ring’s home side would respond with the next five scores in succession including an excellent Sean O’Regan effort where the Watergrasshill attacker leaped into the sky and fired the sliotar between the posts.
Although Sean Doyle must be credited for having a team which actually put up a fight at this grade, there were definitely shortcomings with this display. Among them being the lack of a plan for their own puckouts of which they only won 37 percent, while some outfits become overburdened with tactics in this regard, Clare had very few runners for their puckouts with each one being pumped long and hoping for the best. Cork for instance won 78 percent of their restarts, several of which led to scores.
From the outside looking in, tackling was an area Clare struggled in, going too high with their arms and coughing up falls subsequently. The inability to feed ball into Mark Rodgers and to put a shot on goal will be a regret as players reflect on the defeat. Diarmuid Ryan though guilty of fading in and out of the game, Aron Moloney and Ross Hayes did well for the Banner.
Nothing other than an All-Ireland final appearance and provincial silverware would count as a successful campaign for this Cork side. They are strong in all sectors of the field and will be pleased with the test they received, the nine point margin being somewhat flattering. They moved the ball well and offered strong link-up play up front. Several of their players impressed in a game attended by 2,965, among them Brian Turnbull, Sean O’Regan, James Keating and Tommy O’Connell. The Rebels meet Tipperary in the Munster Final in two weeks.
Scorers Cork: T O’Connell (0-06), S O’Regan (0-05), B Turnbull (0-04), C Hanafin (0-04 3f), S Twomey (0-03), B Roche (0-01), D Connery (0-01)
Scorers Clare: D Ryan (0-04), A McCarthy (0-04 2f), R Considine (0-02 1’SC), M Rodgers (0-02), K McDermott (0-01), A Moriarty (0-01).
1: Eamonn Foudy (Inagh/Kilnamona)
2: Keith White (Inagh/Kilnamona)
3: Aron Moloney (Kilmaley)
4: Peter Casey (Ballyea)
5: Darragh Lohan (Wolfe Tones na Sionna)
6: Ross Hayes (Crusheen)
7: Dylan McMahon (Clonlara)
9: Killian McDermott (Clarecastle)
8: Aidan McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona)
12: Rian Considine (Cratloe)
11: Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe)
10: Aidan Moriarty (Clonlara)
13: Mark Rodgers (Scariff)
14: Gary Cooney (O’Callaghans Mills)
15: Breffni Horner (Crusheen)
19: Cathal Darcy (Kilmaley) for Lohan (HT)
22: Tiernan Agnew (Sixmilebridge) for Horner (39)
17: Paddy Donnellan (Broadford) for Casey (43)
21: Darren Cullinan (Inagh/Kilnamona) for McDermott (52)
20: William Halpin (Tulla) for Moriarty (64)
1. Ger Collins (Ballinhassig)
2. Conor O’Callaghan (Dromtarrife)
3. James Keating (Kildorrery) (captain)
4. Eoin Roche (Bride Rovers)
7. Robert Downey (Glen Rovers)
6. Sean O’ Leary Hayes (Midleton)
5. Ger Millerick (Fr O’Neills)
8. Tommy O’ Connell (Midleton)
9. Brian Roche (Bride Rovers)
12. Daire Connery (Na Piarsaigh)
11. Craig Hanifin (Na Piarsaigh)
10. Sean Twomey (Courcey Rovers)
15. Evan Sheehan (Na Piarsaigh)
14. Shane O’Regan (Watergrasshill)
13. Brian Turnbull (Douglas)
22. Liam O’ Shea (Lisgoold) for Sheehan (41)
17. Ryan Walsh (Kanturk) for Roche (44)
21. Simon Kennefick (Glen Rovers) for Hanafin (47)
20. Declan Hanlon (Blarney) for Connery (61)
Referee: Kevin Jordan (Tipperary)