You are viewing the content for Monday 15 August 2005

Cork refuse to lose

John GardinerCork 0-16 Clare 0-15
SOMEONE from Cork roared at John Gardiner as he left the Croke Park battleground: "Champions die hard."

It may have been directed at Gardiner himself, outstanding when shifted to centre-back. More likely, though, it was a collective vote of confidence in All-Ireland champions who don't succumb to underdogs. They bite back.

If ever a side was under the cosh, if ever a team was backed into a corner, it was the Rebels in yesterday's All-Ireland SHC semi-final, as a magnificent Clare fifteen took the fight to them, rocked them back on their heels.

Twelve minutes into the second half, it was the Banner in front by six points, 0-13 to 0-7, and it should have been even more.

"We expected a dog-fight, but we didn't expect it to be quite like that," reckoned Gardiner, as all round the park, Cork were being rocked, shaken to their foundation by the ferocity of the Clare rottweillers.

Then came the changes, and in the vital last quarter, the dog-fight turned, the greyhounds took over.

Two of the Cork foundations stones, two of the stars of last year's All-Ireland campaign, are Ronan Curran and Brian Corcoran. Centre-back and full-forward, they are two critical elements in the spinal core of this team, but yesterday, it just wasn't happening for them.

Centre-forward Tony Carmody had three points on the board for Clare, while full-back Brian Lohan was in line for man-of-the-match himself, as dominant as ever he was in the heady days for Clare.

In the 50th minute, to the delight of the large Clare contingent, Curran and Corcoran were called ashore. Premature delight, as it transpired.

Wayne Sherlock came in for Curran, went to corner-back, Gardiner went from wing to centre-back, Pat Mulcahy took his place; up front, Ronan went straight to full-forward, a position he has dominated for club and college in the past, but a position in which he was never before given a chance by Cork.

And with those changes, Cork were galvanised, and began to purr. Mulcahy, Gardiner and Ó hAilpín formed a magnificent defensive line, Neil Ronan won every ball that came his way.

He didn't convert them all, but broke the Clare dominance inside to such an extent that within five minutes, Lohan was switched off him.

With renewed energy, the Cork midfield began to take off, and by this stage, it was a three-man affair. In an unofficial capacity, Ben O'Connor joined his twin, Jerry, in midfield, along with Tom Kenny, and for the final twenty minutes, as Cork went on the tear, these three dosed a tiring Clare midfield and defence.

Jerry, especially, was unstoppable. What does this guy have to do to win a man-of-the-match award? Even Gardiner, fresh from collecting that award, struggled for words.

"The engines the boys have, they're fantastic, up and down the field, never seem to stop, they just ran through their midfield. That suits our game down to the ground."

The O'Connor twins and Tom Kenny ask Joe Deane about them, he knows.

"They were incredible, but you'd want to try running with them in the middle of winter, in the muck and the mud!

"They're serious athletes; as the game progresses, every game, the boys get better and better, because there's more space. Everyone else is getting tired, the game is breaking open, but they're getting stronger and stronger."

Then there's Neil Ronan. What must this guy do to earn a start for Cork?

"Every ball that went into Neil there in the end, he won it," Gardiner pointed out, while also singling out the positive contribution of another sub, Kieran Murphy of Erin's Own "a big man on the forty, and that's what we needed.

"Scores were hard to come by, we were a point down for a long period there coming to the end, the changes made the difference."

This isn't the first time Ronan has made that kind of difference, but there seems to be a perception among this Cork management team that he doesn't have the temperament to start.

They're wrong, though they will probably point to this latest example of his last quarter power-play as evidence that he's an emergency man, a fire-fighter. He's a lot more than that.

Anyway, regardless of how they've done it, Cork are in yet another All-Ireland final, their third-in-a-row. Hasn't been the smooth ride of last season's latter stages, though Deane has a simple explanation for that.

"It's a different competition this year. Last year, with all due respects to them, Antrim and Wexford in the quarter-final and semi-final were different opposition to Waterford and Clare (as proved when Clare beat Wexford well in this year's quarter-final)."

Not the Rolls-Royce ride then, but it may yet prove more beneficial; successive games now, this Cork team have really proven their character.

"We never panic," said Gardiner; "we knew we'd come through in the end, and that's the way it worked out.

"We have unbelievable confidence in ourselves, but we have to; the way match turned out today, six points down, most teams would have panicked, but the character came through. We showed it in the quarter-final (against Waterford), when our backs were against the wall, and again today."

Yes, but it could have been their last day out, this year anyway, had Clare taken those early chances.

Champions die hard? True, and credit to all concerned, on and off the field. But, even Lazarus came back from the dead on only the one occasion. Cork must learn from this, before it is, finally, too late.

 

Cork refuse to lose

John GardinerCork 0-16 Clare 0-15
SOMEONE from Cork roared at John Gardiner as he left the Croke Park battleground: "Champions die hard."

It may have been directed at Gardiner himself, outstanding when shifted to centre-back. More likely, though, it was a collective vote of confidence in All-Ireland champions who don't succumb to underdogs. They bite back.

If ever a side was under the cosh, if ever a team was backed into a corner, it was the Rebels in yesterday's All-Ireland SHC semi-final, as a magnificent Clare fifteen took the fight to them, rocked them back on their heels.

Twelve minutes into the second half, it was the Banner in front by six points, 0-13 to 0-7, and it should have been even more.

"We expected a dog-fight, but we didn't expect it to be quite like that," reckoned Gardiner, as all round the park, Cork were being rocked, shaken to their foundation by the ferocity of the Clare rottweillers.

Then came the changes, and in the vital last quarter, the dog-fight turned, the greyhounds took over.

Two of the Cork foundations stones, two of the stars of last year's All-Ireland campaign, are Ronan Curran and Brian Corcoran. Centre-back and full-forward, they are two critical elements in the spinal core of this team, but yesterday, it just wasn't happening for them.

Centre-forward Tony Carmody had three points on the board for Clare, while full-back Brian Lohan was in line for man-of-the-match himself, as dominant as ever he was in the heady days for Clare.

In the 50th minute, to the delight of the large Clare contingent, Curran and Corcoran were called ashore. Premature delight, as it transpired.

Wayne Sherlock came in for Curran, went to corner-back, Gardiner went from wing to centre-back, Pat Mulcahy took his place; up front, Ronan went straight to full-forward, a position he has dominated for club and college in the past, but a position in which he was never before given a chance by Cork.

And with those changes, Cork were galvanised, and began to purr. Mulcahy, Gardiner and Ó hAilpín formed a magnificent defensive line, Neil Ronan won every ball that came his way.

He didn't convert them all, but broke the Clare dominance inside to such an extent that within five minutes, Lohan was switched off him.

With renewed energy, the Cork midfield began to take off, and by this stage, it was a three-man affair. In an unofficial capacity, Ben O'Connor joined his twin, Jerry, in midfield, along with Tom Kenny, and for the final twenty minutes, as Cork went on the tear, these three dosed a tiring Clare midfield and defence.

Jerry, especially, was unstoppable. What does this guy have to do to win a man-of-the-match award? Even Gardiner, fresh from collecting that award, struggled for words.

"The engines the boys have, they're fantastic, up and down the field, never seem to stop, they just ran through their midfield. That suits our game down to the ground."

The O'Connor twins and Tom Kenny ask Joe Deane about them, he knows.

"They were incredible, but you'd want to try running with them in the middle of winter, in the muck and the mud!

"They're serious athletes; as the game progresses, every game, the boys get better and better, because there's more space. Everyone else is getting tired, the game is breaking open, but they're getting stronger and stronger."

Then there's Neil Ronan. What must this guy do to earn a start for Cork?

"Every ball that went into Neil there in the end, he won it," Gardiner pointed out, while also singling out the positive contribution of another sub, Kieran Murphy of Erin's Own "a big man on the forty, and that's what we needed.

"Scores were hard to come by, we were a point down for a long period there coming to the end, the changes made the difference."

This isn't the first time Ronan has made that kind of difference, but there seems to be a perception among this Cork management team that he doesn't have the temperament to start.

They're wrong, though they will probably point to this latest example of his last quarter power-play as evidence that he's an emergency man, a fire-fighter. He's a lot more than that.

Anyway, regardless of how they've done it, Cork are in yet another All-Ireland final, their third-in-a-row. Hasn't been the smooth ride of last season's latter stages, though Deane has a simple explanation for that.

"It's a different competition this year. Last year, with all due respects to them, Antrim and Wexford in the quarter-final and semi-final were different opposition to Waterford and Clare (as proved when Clare beat Wexford well in this year's quarter-final)."

Not the Rolls-Royce ride then, but it may yet prove more beneficial; successive games now, this Cork team have really proven their character.

"We never panic," said Gardiner; "we knew we'd come through in the end, and that's the way it worked out.

"We have unbelievable confidence in ourselves, but we have to; the way match turned out today, six points down, most teams would have panicked, but the character came through. We showed it in the quarter-final (against Waterford), when our backs were against the wall, and again today."

Yes, but it could have been their last day out, this year anyway, had Clare taken those early chances.

Champions die hard? True, and credit to all concerned, on and off the field. But, even Lazarus came back from the dead on only the one occasion. Cork must learn from this, before it is, finally, too late.

 

Cork refuse to lose

John GardinerCork 0-16 Clare 0-15
SOMEONE from Cork roared at John Gardiner as he left the Croke Park battleground: "Champions die hard."

It may have been directed at Gardiner himself, outstanding when shifted to centre-back. More likely, though, it was a collective vote of confidence in All-Ireland champions who don't succumb to underdogs. They bite back.

If ever a side was under the cosh, if ever a team was backed into a corner, it was the Rebels in yesterday's All-Ireland SHC semi-final, as a magnificent Clare fifteen took the fight to them, rocked them back on their heels.

Twelve minutes into the second half, it was the Banner in front by six points, 0-13 to 0-7, and it should have been even more.

"We expected a dog-fight, but we didn't expect it to be quite like that," reckoned Gardiner, as all round the park, Cork were being rocked, shaken to their foundation by the ferocity of the Clare rottweillers.

Then came the changes, and in the vital last quarter, the dog-fight turned, the greyhounds took over.

Two of the Cork foundations stones, two of the stars of last year's All-Ireland campaign, are Ronan Curran and Brian Corcoran. Centre-back and full-forward, they are two critical elements in the spinal core of this team, but yesterday, it just wasn't happening for them.

Centre-forward Tony Carmody had three points on the board for Clare, while full-back Brian Lohan was in line for man-of-the-match himself, as dominant as ever he was in the heady days for Clare.

In the 50th minute, to the delight of the large Clare contingent, Curran and Corcoran were called ashore. Premature delight, as it transpired.

Wayne Sherlock came in for Curran, went to corner-back, Gardiner went from wing to centre-back, Pat Mulcahy took his place; up front, Ronan went straight to full-forward, a position he has dominated for club and college in the past, but a position in which he was never before given a chance by Cork.

And with those changes, Cork were galvanised, and began to purr. Mulcahy, Gardiner and Ó hAilpín formed a magnificent defensive line, Neil Ronan won every ball that came his way.

He didn't convert them all, but broke the Clare dominance inside to such an extent that within five minutes, Lohan was switched off him.

With renewed energy, the Cork midfield began to take off, and by this stage, it was a three-man affair. In an unofficial capacity, Ben O'Connor joined his twin, Jerry, in midfield, along with Tom Kenny, and for the final twenty minutes, as Cork went on the tear, these three dosed a tiring Clare midfield and defence.

Jerry, especially, was unstoppable. What does this guy have to do to win a man-of-the-match award? Even Gardiner, fresh from collecting that award, struggled for words.

"The engines the boys have, they're fantastic, up and down the field, never seem to stop, they just ran through their midfield. That suits our game down to the ground."

The O'Connor twins and Tom Kenny ask Joe Deane about them, he knows.

"They were incredible, but you'd want to try running with them in the middle of winter, in the muck and the mud!

"They're serious athletes; as the game progresses, every game, the boys get better and better, because there's more space. Everyone else is getting tired, the game is breaking open, but they're getting stronger and stronger."

Then there's Neil Ronan. What must this guy do to earn a start for Cork?

"Every ball that went into Neil there in the end, he won it," Gardiner pointed out, while also singling out the positive contribution of another sub, Kieran Murphy of Erin's Own "a big man on the forty, and that's what we needed.

"Scores were hard to come by, we were a point down for a long period there coming to the end, the changes made the difference."

This isn't the first time Ronan has made that kind of difference, but there seems to be a perception among this Cork management team that he doesn't have the temperament to start.

They're wrong, though they will probably point to this latest example of his last quarter power-play as evidence that he's an emergency man, a fire-fighter. He's a lot more than that.

Anyway, regardless of how they've done it, Cork are in yet another All-Ireland final, their third-in-a-row. Hasn't been the smooth ride of last season's latter stages, though Deane has a simple explanation for that.

"It's a different competition this year. Last year, with all due respects to them, Antrim and Wexford in the quarter-final and semi-final were different opposition to Waterford and Clare (as proved when Clare beat Wexford well in this year's quarter-final)."

Not the Rolls-Royce ride then, but it may yet prove more beneficial; successive games now, this Cork team have really proven their character.

"We never panic," said Gardiner; "we knew we'd come through in the end, and that's the way it worked out.

"We have unbelievable confidence in ourselves, but we have to; the way match turned out today, six points down, most teams would have panicked, but the character came through. We showed it in the quarter-final (against Waterford), when our backs were against the wall, and again today."

Yes, but it could have been their last day out, this year anyway, had Clare taken those early chances.

Champions die hard? True, and credit to all concerned, on and off the field. But, even Lazarus came back from the dead on only the one occasion. Cork must learn from this, before it is, finally, too late.

 

Cork refuse to lose

John GardinerCork 0-16 Clare 0-15
SOMEONE from Cork roared at John Gardiner as he left the Croke Park battleground: "Champions die hard."

It may have been directed at Gardiner himself, outstanding when shifted to centre-back. More likely, though, it was a collective vote of confidence in All-Ireland champions who don't succumb to underdogs. They bite back.

If ever a side was under the cosh, if ever a team was backed into a corner, it was the Rebels in yesterday's All-Ireland SHC semi-final, as a magnificent Clare fifteen took the fight to them, rocked them back on their heels.

Twelve minutes into the second half, it was the Banner in front by six points, 0-13 to 0-7, and it should have been even more.

"We expected a dog-fight, but we didn't expect it to be quite like that," reckoned Gardiner, as all round the park, Cork were being rocked, shaken to their foundation by the ferocity of the Clare rottweillers.

Then came the changes, and in the vital last quarter, the dog-fight turned, the greyhounds took over.

Two of the Cork foundations stones, two of the stars of last year's All-Ireland campaign, are Ronan Curran and Brian Corcoran. Centre-back and full-forward, they are two critical elements in the spinal core of this team, but yesterday, it just wasn't happening for them.

Centre-forward Tony Carmody had three points on the board for Clare, while full-back Brian Lohan was in line for man-of-the-match himself, as dominant as ever he was in the heady days for Clare.

In the 50th minute, to the delight of the large Clare contingent, Curran and Corcoran were called ashore. Premature delight, as it transpired.

Wayne Sherlock came in for Curran, went to corner-back, Gardiner went from wing to centre-back, Pat Mulcahy took his place; up front, Ronan went straight to full-forward, a position he has dominated for club and college in the past, but a position in which he was never before given a chance by Cork.

And with those changes, Cork were galvanised, and began to purr. Mulcahy, Gardiner and Ó hAilpín formed a magnificent defensive line, Neil Ronan won every ball that came his way.

He didn't convert them all, but broke the Clare dominance inside to such an extent that within five minutes, Lohan was switched off him.

With renewed energy, the Cork midfield began to take off, and by this stage, it was a three-man affair. In an unofficial capacity, Ben O'Connor joined his twin, Jerry, in midfield, along with Tom Kenny, and for the final twenty minutes, as Cork went on the tear, these three dosed a tiring Clare midfield and defence.

Jerry, especially, was unstoppable. What does this guy have to do to win a man-of-the-match award? Even Gardiner, fresh from collecting that award, struggled for words.

"The engines the boys have, they're fantastic, up and down the field, never seem to stop, they just ran through their midfield. That suits our game down to the ground."

The O'Connor twins and Tom Kenny ask Joe Deane about them, he knows.

"They were incredible, but you'd want to try running with them in the middle of winter, in the muck and the mud!

"They're serious athletes; as the game progresses, every game, the boys get better and better, because there's more space. Everyone else is getting tired, the game is breaking open, but they're getting stronger and stronger."

Then there's Neil Ronan. What must this guy do to earn a start for Cork?

"Every ball that went into Neil there in the end, he won it," Gardiner pointed out, while also singling out the positive contribution of another sub, Kieran Murphy of Erin's Own "a big man on the forty, and that's what we needed.

"Scores were hard to come by, we were a point down for a long period there coming to the end, the changes made the difference."

This isn't the first time Ronan has made that kind of difference, but there seems to be a perception among this Cork management team that he doesn't have the temperament to start.

They're wrong, though they will probably point to this latest example of his last quarter power-play as evidence that he's an emergency man, a fire-fighter. He's a lot more than that.

Anyway, regardless of how they've done it, Cork are in yet another All-Ireland final, their third-in-a-row. Hasn't been the smooth ride of last season's latter stages, though Deane has a simple explanation for that.

"It's a different competition this year. Last year, with all due respects to them, Antrim and Wexford in the quarter-final and semi-final were different opposition to Waterford and Clare (as proved when Clare beat Wexford well in this year's quarter-final)."

Not the Rolls-Royce ride then, but it may yet prove more beneficial; successive games now, this Cork team have really proven their character.

"We never panic," said Gardiner; "we knew we'd come through in the end, and that's the way it worked out.

"We have unbelievable confidence in ourselves, but we have to; the way match turned out today, six points down, most teams would have panicked, but the character came through. We showed it in the quarter-final (against Waterford), when our backs were against the wall, and again today."

Yes, but it could have been their last day out, this year anyway, had Clare taken those early chances.

Champions die hard? True, and credit to all concerned, on and off the field. But, even Lazarus came back from the dead on only the one occasion. Cork must learn from this, before it is, finally, too late.

 

Cork refuse to lose

John GardinerCork 0-16 Clare 0-15
SOMEONE from Cork roared at John Gardiner as he left the Croke Park battleground: "Champions die hard."

It may have been directed at Gardiner himself, outstanding when shifted to centre-back. More likely, though, it was a collective vote of confidence in All-Ireland champions who don't succumb to underdogs. They bite back.

If ever a side was under the cosh, if ever a team was backed into a corner, it was the Rebels in yesterday's All-Ireland SHC semi-final, as a magnificent Clare fifteen took the fight to them, rocked them back on their heels.

Twelve minutes into the second half, it was the Banner in front by six points, 0-13 to 0-7, and it should have been even more.

"We expected a dog-fight, but we didn't expect it to be quite like that," reckoned Gardiner, as all round the park, Cork were being rocked, shaken to their foundation by the ferocity of the Clare rottweillers.

Then came the changes, and in the vital last quarter, the dog-fight turned, the greyhounds took over.

Two of the Cork foundations stones, two of the stars of last year's All-Ireland campaign, are Ronan Curran and Brian Corcoran. Centre-back and full-forward, they are two critical elements in the spinal core of this team, but yesterday, it just wasn't happening for them.

Centre-forward Tony Carmody had three points on the board for Clare, while full-back Brian Lohan was in line for man-of-the-match himself, as dominant as ever he was in the heady days for Clare.

In the 50th minute, to the delight of the large Clare contingent, Curran and Corcoran were called ashore. Premature delight, as it transpired.

Wayne Sherlock came in for Curran, went to corner-back, Gardiner went from wing to centre-back, Pat Mulcahy took his place; up front, Ronan went straight to full-forward, a position he has dominated for club and college in the past, but a position in which he was never before given a chance by Cork.

And with those changes, Cork were galvanised, and began to purr. Mulcahy, Gardiner and Ó hAilpín formed a magnificent defensive line, Neil Ronan won every ball that came his way.

He didn't convert them all, but broke the Clare dominance inside to such an extent that within five minutes, Lohan was switched off him.

With renewed energy, the Cork midfield began to take off, and by this stage, it was a three-man affair. In an unofficial capacity, Ben O'Connor joined his twin, Jerry, in midfield, along with Tom Kenny, and for the final twenty minutes, as Cork went on the tear, these three dosed a tiring Clare midfield and defence.

Jerry, especially, was unstoppable. What does this guy have to do to win a man-of-the-match award? Even Gardiner, fresh from collecting that award, struggled for words.

"The engines the boys have, they're fantastic, up and down the field, never seem to stop, they just ran through their midfield. That suits our game down to the ground."

The O'Connor twins and Tom Kenny ask Joe Deane about them, he knows.

"They were incredible, but you'd want to try running with them in the middle of winter, in the muck and the mud!

"They're serious athletes; as the game progresses, every game, the boys get better and better, because there's more space. Everyone else is getting tired, the game is breaking open, but they're getting stronger and stronger."

Then there's Neil Ronan. What must this guy do to earn a start for Cork?

"Every ball that went into Neil there in the end, he won it," Gardiner pointed out, while also singling out the positive contribution of another sub, Kieran Murphy of Erin's Own "a big man on the forty, and that's what we needed.

"Scores were hard to come by, we were a point down for a long period there coming to the end, the changes made the difference."

This isn't the first time Ronan has made that kind of difference, but there seems to be a perception among this Cork management team that he doesn't have the temperament to start.

They're wrong, though they will probably point to this latest example of his last quarter power-play as evidence that he's an emergency man, a fire-fighter. He's a lot more than that.

Anyway, regardless of how they've done it, Cork are in yet another All-Ireland final, their third-in-a-row. Hasn't been the smooth ride of last season's latter stages, though Deane has a simple explanation for that.

"It's a different competition this year. Last year, with all due respects to them, Antrim and Wexford in the quarter-final and semi-final were different opposition to Waterford and Clare (as proved when Clare beat Wexford well in this year's quarter-final)."

Not the Rolls-Royce ride then, but it may yet prove more beneficial; successive games now, this Cork team have really proven their character.

"We never panic," said Gardiner; "we knew we'd come through in the end, and that's the way it worked out.

"We have unbelievable confidence in ourselves, but we have to; the way match turned out today, six points down, most teams would have panicked, but the character came through. We showed it in the quarter-final (against Waterford), when our backs were against the wall, and again today."

Yes, but it could have been their last day out, this year anyway, had Clare taken those early chances.

Champions die hard? True, and credit to all concerned, on and off the field. But, even Lazarus came back from the dead on only the one occasion. Cork must learn from this, before it is, finally, too late.

 

Cork refuse to lose

John GardinerCork 0-16 Clare 0-15
SOMEONE from Cork roared at John Gardiner as he left the Croke Park battleground: "Champions die hard."

It may have been directed at Gardiner himself, outstanding when shifted to centre-back. More likely, though, it was a collective vote of confidence in All-Ireland champions who don't succumb to underdogs. They bite back.

If ever a side was under the cosh, if ever a team was backed into a corner, it was the Rebels in yesterday's All-Ireland SHC semi-final, as a magnificent Clare fifteen took the fight to them, rocked them back on their heels.

Twelve minutes into the second half, it was the Banner in front by six points, 0-13 to 0-7, and it should have been even more.

"We expected a dog-fight, but we didn't expect it to be quite like that," reckoned Gardiner, as all round the park, Cork were being rocked, shaken to their foundation by the ferocity of the Clare rottweillers.

Then came the changes, and in the vital last quarter, the dog-fight turned, the greyhounds took over.

Two of the Cork foundations stones, two of the stars of last year's All-Ireland campaign, are Ronan Curran and Brian Corcoran. Centre-back and full-forward, they are two critical elements in the spinal core of this team, but yesterday, it just wasn't happening for them.

Centre-forward Tony Carmody had three points on the board for Clare, while full-back Brian Lohan was in line for man-of-the-match himself, as dominant as ever he was in the heady days for Clare.

In the 50th minute, to the delight of the large Clare contingent, Curran and Corcoran were called ashore. Premature delight, as it transpired.

Wayne Sherlock came in for Curran, went to corner-back, Gardiner went from wing to centre-back, Pat Mulcahy took his place; up front, Ronan went straight to full-forward, a position he has dominated for club and college in the past, but a position in which he was never before given a chance by Cork.

And with those changes, Cork were galvanised, and began to purr. Mulcahy, Gardiner and Ó hAilpín formed a magnificent defensive line, Neil Ronan won every ball that came his way.

He didn't convert them all, but broke the Clare dominance inside to such an extent that within five minutes, Lohan was switched off him.

With renewed energy, the Cork midfield began to take off, and by this stage, it was a three-man affair. In an unofficial capacity, Ben O'Connor joined his twin, Jerry, in midfield, along with Tom Kenny, and for the final twenty minutes, as Cork went on the tear, these three dosed a tiring Clare midfield and defence.

Jerry, especially, was unstoppable. What does this guy have to do to win a man-of-the-match award? Even Gardiner, fresh from collecting that award, struggled for words.

"The engines the boys have, they're fantastic, up and down the field, never seem to stop, they just ran through their midfield. That suits our game down to the ground."

The O'Connor twins and Tom Kenny ask Joe Deane about them, he knows.

"They were incredible, but you'd want to try running with them in the middle of winter, in the muck and the mud!

"They're serious athletes; as the game progresses, every game, the boys get better and better, because there's more space. Everyone else is getting tired, the game is breaking open, but they're getting stronger and stronger."

Then there's Neil Ronan. What must this guy do to earn a start for Cork?

"Every ball that went into Neil there in the end, he won it," Gardiner pointed out, while also singling out the positive contribution of another sub, Kieran Murphy of Erin's Own "a big man on the forty, and that's what we needed.

"Scores were hard to come by, we were a point down for a long period there coming to the end, the changes made the difference."

This isn't the first time Ronan has made that kind of difference, but there seems to be a perception among this Cork management team that he doesn't have the temperament to start.

They're wrong, though they will probably point to this latest example of his last quarter power-play as evidence that he's an emergency man, a fire-fighter. He's a lot more than that.

Anyway, regardless of how they've done it, Cork are in yet another All-Ireland final, their third-in-a-row. Hasn't been the smooth ride of last season's latter stages, though Deane has a simple explanation for that.

"It's a different competition this year. Last year, with all due respects to them, Antrim and Wexford in the quarter-final and semi-final were different opposition to Waterford and Clare (as proved when Clare beat Wexford well in this year's quarter-final)."

Not the Rolls-Royce ride then, but it may yet prove more beneficial; successive games now, this Cork team have really proven their character.

"We never panic," said Gardiner; "we knew we'd come through in the end, and that's the way it worked out.

"We have unbelievable confidence in ourselves, but we have to; the way match turned out today, six points down, most teams would have panicked, but the character came through. We showed it in the quarter-final (against Waterford), when our backs were against the wall, and again today."

Yes, but it could have been their last day out, this year anyway, had Clare taken those early chances.

Champions die hard? True, and credit to all concerned, on and off the field. But, even Lazarus came back from the dead on only the one occasion. Cork must learn from this, before it is, finally, too late.

 

Cork refuse to lose

John GardinerCork 0-16 Clare 0-15
SOMEONE from Cork roared at John Gardiner as he left the Croke Park battleground: "Champions die hard."

It may have been directed at Gardiner himself, outstanding when shifted to centre-back. More likely, though, it was a collective vote of confidence in All-Ireland champions who don't succumb to underdogs. They bite back.

If ever a side was under the cosh, if ever a team was backed into a corner, it was the Rebels in yesterday's All-Ireland SHC semi-final, as a magnificent Clare fifteen took the fight to them, rocked them back on their heels.

Twelve minutes into the second half, it was the Banner in front by six points, 0-13 to 0-7, and it should have been even more.

"We expected a dog-fight, but we didn't expect it to be quite like that," reckoned Gardiner, as all round the park, Cork were being rocked, shaken to their foundation by the ferocity of the Clare rottweillers.

Then came the changes, and in the vital last quarter, the dog-fight turned, the greyhounds took over.

Two of the Cork foundations stones, two of the stars of last year's All-Ireland campaign, are Ronan Curran and Brian Corcoran. Centre-back and full-forward, they are two critical elements in the spinal core of this team, but yesterday, it just wasn't happening for them.

Centre-forward Tony Carmody had three points on the board for Clare, while full-back Brian Lohan was in line for man-of-the-match himself, as dominant as ever he was in the heady days for Clare.

In the 50th minute, to the delight of the large Clare contingent, Curran and Corcoran were called ashore. Premature delight, as it transpired.

Wayne Sherlock came in for Curran, went to corner-back, Gardiner went from wing to centre-back, Pat Mulcahy took his place; up front, Ronan went straight to full-forward, a position he has dominated for club and college in the past, but a position in which he was never before given a chance by Cork.

And with those changes, Cork were galvanised, and began to purr. Mulcahy, Gardiner and Ó hAilpín formed a magnificent defensive line, Neil Ronan won every ball that came his way.

He didn't convert them all, but broke the Clare dominance inside to such an extent that within five minutes, Lohan was switched off him.

With renewed energy, the Cork midfield began to take off, and by this stage, it was a three-man affair. In an unofficial capacity, Ben O'Connor joined his twin, Jerry, in midfield, along with Tom Kenny, and for the final twenty minutes, as Cork went on the tear, these three dosed a tiring Clare midfield and defence.

Jerry, especially, was unstoppable. What does this guy have to do to win a man-of-the-match award? Even Gardiner, fresh from collecting that award, struggled for words.

"The engines the boys have, they're fantastic, up and down the field, never seem to stop, they just ran through their midfield. That suits our game down to the ground."

The O'Connor twins and Tom Kenny ask Joe Deane about them, he knows.

"They were incredible, but you'd want to try running with them in the middle of winter, in the muck and the mud!

"They're serious athletes; as the game progresses, every game, the boys get better and better, because there's more space. Everyone else is getting tired, the game is breaking open, but they're getting stronger and stronger."

Then there's Neil Ronan. What must this guy do to earn a start for Cork?

"Every ball that went into Neil there in the end, he won it," Gardiner pointed out, while also singling out the positive contribution of another sub, Kieran Murphy of Erin's Own "a big man on the forty, and that's what we needed.

"Scores were hard to come by, we were a point down for a long period there coming to the end, the changes made the difference."

This isn't the first time Ronan has made that kind of difference, but there seems to be a perception among this Cork management team that he doesn't have the temperament to start.

They're wrong, though they will probably point to this latest example of his last quarter power-play as evidence that he's an emergency man, a fire-fighter. He's a lot more than that.

Anyway, regardless of how they've done it, Cork are in yet another All-Ireland final, their third-in-a-row. Hasn't been the smooth ride of last season's latter stages, though Deane has a simple explanation for that.

"It's a different competition this year. Last year, with all due respects to them, Antrim and Wexford in the quarter-final and semi-final were different opposition to Waterford and Clare (as proved when Clare beat Wexford well in this year's quarter-final)."

Not the Rolls-Royce ride then, but it may yet prove more beneficial; successive games now, this Cork team have really proven their character.

"We never panic," said Gardiner; "we knew we'd come through in the end, and that's the way it worked out.

"We have unbelievable confidence in ourselves, but we have to; the way match turned out today, six points down, most teams would have panicked, but the character came through. We showed it in the quarter-final (against Waterford), when our backs were against the wall, and again today."

Yes, but it could have been their last day out, this year anyway, had Clare taken those early chances.

Champions die hard? True, and credit to all concerned, on and off the field. But, even Lazarus came back from the dead on only the one occasion. Cork must learn from this, before it is, finally, too late.