*Clare’s Ciara Doyle and Linda Collins of Cork. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane
It was the same but different as Cork maintained their championship hold over Clare to power into the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Semi-Finals in Pairc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday afternoon.
Venue: Pairc Uí Chaoimh
The familiarity stemmed from the well-worn pattern as the Rebels finished with a 2-6 unanswered blitz to flatteringly flesh out the final margin once more. However, what the scoreline does mask is arguably Clare’s most competent performance against the Munster rivals since their provincial final win back in 2012.
Level on five occasions in the opening half hour, Clare matched their opponents admirably but with a sizable breeze at their backs, required a half-time cushion to cling to.
However, it was Cork who inched 0-7 to 0-6 clear by the midway mark and once Katrina Mackey fired a goal within a minute of the restart, it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Banner.
That said, they did have their chances, with sharpshooter Eimear Kelly carving out three goal opportunities that only yielded a solitary point. In a game in which Clare were firm underdogs, one felt that they needed to take every chance to remain in contention. But as it was, a more clinical Cork would demonstrate all their experience as the half developed with a late brace of Amy O’Connor goals proving the final nails in Clare’s coffin.
It was all so different in the opening half, with wind-assisted Clare snatching the whip hand to nudge ahead three times through Aine O’Loughlin, Eimear Kelly and Chloe Morey, only to be reeled in on every occasion.
Locked at 0-5 to 0-5 entering injury-time, points from Saoirse McCarthy and Katrina Mackey were lessened by Morey’s third free at 0-7 to 0-6 but that seesaw pattern would be dismissed only a minute into the new half.
Captain Amy O’Connor teed up Mackey to billow the net and while Clare hit back immediately, Eimear Kelly’s stinging shot was repelled by goalkeeper Amy Lee, albeit that Morey did convert the resulting free at 1-8 to 0-7.
An Aine O’Loughlin point ensured that only four points separated the side by the two-thirds mark but unfortunately for Clare, it was to be their final score as Cork moved swiftly through the gears to finish off their flagging opponents.
Starting with a five point burst, O’Connor intercepted a Clare puck-out to goal in the 55th minute, with a second yellow for the ever-impressive Niamh O’Dea quickly followed by a second major for Cork’s captain to ensure a remarkable 35th consecutive semi-final appearance.
Clare meanwhile are still searching for their first but can take great encouragement that they are certainly heading in the right direction. Their most impressive displays were in defence where Clare Hehir, Alannah Ryan and Niamh O’Dea stood out. However, they will require more scoring assistance and pace up front to aid Eimear Kelly and Aine O’Loughlin if they are to build upon this stepping stone for 2021.
Scorers for Cork: Amy O’Connor (2-1); Orla Cronin (0-6, 4f); Katrina Mackey (1-3); Linda Collins, Saoirse McCarthy, Chloe Sigerson (f), Hannah Looney, Cliona Healy (0-1 each)
Scorers for Clare: Chloe Morey (0-4f); Eimear Kelly, Aine O’Loughlin (0-2 each)
1: Amy Lee (Na Piarsaigh)
2: Libby Coppinger (St Colum’s)
3: Laura Treacy (Killeagh)
4: Meabh Cahalane (St Finbarr’s)
5: Hannah Looney (Killeagh)
6: Pamela Mackey (Douglas)
7: Laura Hayes (St Catherine’s)
9: Ashling Thompson (Milford)
20: Niamh O’Callaghan (Sarsfields)
12: Katrina Mackey (St Catherine’s)
11: Orla Cronin (Enniskeane)
8: Chloe Sigerson (Killeagh)
10: Amy O’Connor (St Vincent’s) (Captain)
24: Saoirse McCarthy (Courcey Rovers)
14: Linda Collins (Courcey Rovers)
23: Cliona Healy (Aghabullogue) for McCarthy (42)
26: Lauren Homan (St Vincent’s) for O’Callaghan (44)
13: Izzy O’Regan (Ballygarvan) for K. Mackey (52)
22: Ellen Murphy (Sarsfields) for Coppinger (53)
15: Fiona Keating (Courcey Rovers) for Looney (61)
1: Aisling Corbett (Scariff-Ogonnelloe)
2: Ciara Grogan (Clooney-Quin)
3: Clare Hehir (Inagh-Kilnamona)
4: Ciara Doyle (Scariff-Ogonnelloe)
5: Roisin McMahon (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
6: Niamh O’Dea (Kilmaley)
7: Alannah Ryan (Kilkishen)
8: Susan Vaughan (Scariff-Ogonnelloe)
9: Orlaith Duggan (Clooney-Quin)
10: Laura McMahon (Newmarket-on-Fergus) (Captain)
11: Eimear Kelly (Truagh-Clonlara)
12: Maire McGrath (Sixmilebridge)
13: Chloe Morey (Sixmilebridge)
14: Aine O’Loughlin (Truagh-Clonlara)
15: Mairead Scanlan (Scariff-Ogonnelloe)
22: Robyn Conway (Feakle-Killanena) for Scanlan (36)
19: Sinead Conlon (Tulla) for Vaughan (43)
20: Greta Hickey (Whitegate) for L. McMahon (48)
23: Aoife Power (Scariff-Ogonnelloe) for McGrath (56)
18: Michelle Caulfield (Truagh-Clonlara) for Duggan (56)
Referee: Liz Dempsey (Kilkenny)