*Terence Fahy. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

A “LETHAL” Cork side ended Clare’s aspirations of reaching back to back Munster U20 finals.

Clare had been trailing by six points but a rally of 2-3 saw them push three points ahead with three minutes to play at Cusack Park on Friday.

However, Ben O’Connor’s Cork fired back with 1-3 including a debut goal from substitute Barry O’Flynn which served as the winner in front of 3,072 fans.

Reflecting on coming back from six points adrift and not holding on for the win, Clare manager Terence Fahy said, “You were always hoping but we always knew that these things go down to sixty four or sixty five minutes, it is never over until the final whistle, they are lethal and they were lethal when they turned over ball, that’s hurling”.

He added, “Look at the calibre of the team we were playing against, we never had them finished, they have depth, they have quality and they are champions, they didn’t give it up”.

Eleven first half wides really hindered Clare and allowed Cork to hold a 0-10 0-7 lead at the interval. “We were creating the opportunities, we weren’t shooting from good positions, our shooting was a little off, we were very clinical last week but we were happy enough last week, we were getting those opportunities and we needed to stay at it, I’m very proud of the lads”.

Senan Dunford was brought on as a substitute with fifty six minutes played, he had been set to enter the fray earlier. Clare were slow to make changes but they opted against doing something quicker as the tide began to turn with two goals from Clonlara’s Diarmuid Stritch. “We were about to make a change but we got totally on top then and it wasn’t the time to make a change, when you have momentum you don’t break it yourself, that is why we didn’t make the change,” Fahy admitted.

O’Flynn’s winning goal came from an avoidable turnover, the Whitegate man noted. “Their goal came from a turnover, we were trying to get up the field and they were very potent inside. It’s very hard to compute at this stage, I’m very disappointed for the lads”.

It could be argued that prior to the turnover Eoghan Gunning was fouled with a shoulder to the chest but Terence opted against making excuses. “I wouldn’t be blaming a referee now, there was lots of hits either way, it was a great game of hurling, we were unfortunate to come out the wrong side of it”.

By the final whistle the margin was four points compared with the forty point gap when the sides met at minor level, a freak result but one that is regarded among the darkest hours in Clare hurling. “We never paid too much heed to that because we knew we had a great bunch of players, that was a freak result that day, they’ve been very committed, they’ve driven it on massively and they’ve closed that gap massively, we’d be very proud of them”.

Fahy continued, “We’ve players who love playing for Clare, they give everything to prepare to play for Clare and they give everything out there, we’d be very proud of them and we’re privileged to be able to help them on their journey, hopefully a share of them will move onto senior”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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