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Clare’s senior hurlers have exited the All-Ireland SHC after suffering a two point defeat to Cork on Saturday evening in the second round of the qualifiers. 

Cork 3-19
Clare 1-23
Venue: LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick

Played in searing heat for the second week in a row, Clare’s senior hurlers matched their opponents and arguably ranked ahead when it came to fire and determination but of the two sides it was Cork that were the more clinical.

As the clash entered additional time, it appeared that Cork were on course for a five point win. However within moments, the chance of stealing the game fell Clare’s way, Tony Kelly converting a penalty but Patrick Collins denying the star man with their final shot of the game to save the day for the Rebels.

Level four times within the opening quarter, it wasn’t until Jack O’Connor struck for the first goal of the encounter that Cork began to build up the lead. The Sarsfields attacker showed his worth as an intelligent forward throughout the tie but it was his pace that was most abundant when he got past Rory Hayes before the firing the sliotar to Eibhear Quilligan’s goal on sixteen minutes.

Darragh Fitzgibbon was alert to turn over possession from a fifty fifty John Conlon clearance to work the move which supplied possession to O’Connor who made no mistake when given the opportunity.

Prior to this a Tony Kelly treble and an Ian Galvin single kept Clare’s account ticking over with the Cork tally coming solely from Patrick Horgan.

Seamus Harnedy was next to point following O’Connor’s goal before Cathal Malone on the double and a further Tony Kelly effort levelled matters. Kelly missed a placed ball to put Clare back in front and Cork replied with two Horgan placed balls.

Kelly brought the distance to a single point approaching the thirty minute mark only for Darragh Fitzgibbon and Shane Kingston to respond at the other end.

Kingston struck for the Rebels’ second goal as additional time was just announced. A Diarmuid Ryan sideline cut went straight to the hands of Harnedy, he offloaded to Kingston who combined with Horgan, the captain producing a wonderful piece of skill to tee up the Douglas forward for goal number two. Colm Galvin split the posts in the next attack to leave it 2-09 0-11 in favour of Cork at the sounding of the half-time whistle.

Little debate will surround the third quarter, simply because Clare dominated this spell. Led by chief marksman Tony Kelly, the St Flannan’s school teacher inspired not alone his teammates but the watching faithful in Limerick and further afield. Such was the contribution of the 2013 Hurler of the Year that Clare outscored Cork 0-10 0-05 in the first twenty five minutes of the second half.

Kelly, Shane Golden and Diarmuid Ryan tacked on points after the final water break to put Clare ahead by the minimum. Cork substitutes Aaron Connolly and Shane Barrett replied before Ryan Taylor opened his account on sixty one minutes.

Crucially Cork struck for 1-03 without reply in a five minute window in the final ten minutes of the contest. Robert Downey pulled off a fantastic block to deny Gary Cooney for raiding for a green flag for the second weekend in a row.

Immediately from this intervention, Cork worked the ball up the field and Seamus Harnedy teed up Shane Barrett who roofed the sliotar to Eibhear Quilligan’s net. Although Clare hit 1-01 in the dying moments, Collins’ save from Kelly ensured the Rebels lived to fight another day.

Kieran Kingston and his management will be very pleased to advance to the quarter-finals and with the manner of the test they received in Limerick. Of concern to them will be their third quarter showing when they played second fiddle, this period would have been the most costly had the Leesiders lost out. Darragh Fitzgibbon, Robert Downey, Seán O’Donoghue and Jack O’Connor stood out for the winners.

Whether it is a senior inter-county clash or an U10 blitz, the concept is simple, goals win matches. It’s a cliché for a reason and unfortunately for Clare it will be the one they are most reminded of when they reflect on their exit from the championship. This plus their high tally of wides hindered their overall cause.

As is always the case, this Clare team showed an abundance of fight and a work-rate that is very hard to match. Basic errors on distribution in the opening half coughed up scores to Cork while the collective forward line were not at peak accuracy nor did they make the most of the supply of ball into them. Cathal Malone, Tony Kelly and David Reidy did best for the Banner.

Scorers Cork: P Horgan (0-10 4f, 3’65), S Kingston (1-01), S Barrett (1-01), J O’Connor (1-00), S Harnedy (0-02), D Fitzgibbon (0-02), R O’Flynn (0-01), L Meade (0-01), A Connolly (0-01).

Scorers Clare: T Kelly (1-11 8f 1’Pen), C Malone (0-03), A McCarthy (0-02), D McInerney (0-01), C Galvin (0-01), S Golden (0-01), R Taylor (0-01), D Ryan (0-01), R Hayes (0-01).

Cork:
1: Patrick Collins (Ballinhassig)

4: Seán O’Donoghue (Inniscarra)
7: Ger Millerick (Fr O’Neills)
3: Robert Downey (Glen Rovers)

6: Mark Coleman (Blarney)
2: Niall O’Leary (Castlelyons)
5: Tim O’Mahony (Newtownshandrum)

9: Luke Meade (Newcestown)
8: Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville)

12: Robbie O’Flynn (Erins Own)
11: Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers)
10: Séamus Harnedy (St Ita’s)

13: Alan Cadogan (Douglas)
14: Shane Kingston (Douglas)
15: Jack O’Connor (Sarsfields)

Subs:
24: Shane Barrett (Blarney) for Cadogan (HT)
22: Conor Cahalane (St Finbarr’s) for O’Flynn (58)
25: Alan Connolly (Blackrock) for Kingston (59)
26: Tadhg Deasy (Blackrock) for Harnedy (69)
21: Bill Cooper (Youghal) for Fitzgibbon (71)

Clare
1: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

2: Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones)
3: Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown)
4: Paul Flanagan (Ballyea).

5: Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe)
6: John Conlon (Clonlara)
18: David McInerney (Tulla).

15: Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin).
9: Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)

13: David Reidy (Éire Óg)
11: Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
8: Colm Galvin (Clonlara)

10: Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones)
12: Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona)
14: Ian Galvin (Clonlara).

Subs
19: Mark Rodgers (Scarriff) for Ian Galvin (28)
25: Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge) for Rodgers (51)
17: Jack Browne (Ballyea) for Colm Galvin (56)
24: Gary Cooney (O’Callaghan Mills) for Shanagher (65)

Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)

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