By Denis Hurley
Cork 1-15 Clare 1-9
Cork have won their third McGrath Cup title in five years after overcoming a stiff test from Clare at Mallow.
In front of 804 spectators, it took some time for the hosts to shake off their visitors, with most of the first half a tight – and sometimes overly niggly – affair.
However, after a well-worked Clare move ended with Eoin Cleary palming home to put them 1-3 to 1-2 in front in the 16th minute, they would add only a solitary extra point between then and half-time.
Cork, having looked like pushing on when Brian Hurley netted just before Cleary’s goal, eventually began to establish more fluency in their play and, by the break, had created a six-point advantage, 1-10 to 1-4.
And yet, the solidity of that superiority was tested too at the outset of the second half. Tubridy, with a free from distance, and then Shane McGrath, when a goal was on, cut the Clare deficit to four.
Cork’s Colm O’Driscoll – wearing 2 but spending most of the game in the Clare half as he followed Seánie Malone up the field – replied with his third point, but a second from Seán Collins left it 1-11 to 1-7.
Had Cleary netted when presented with a clear sight of goal on 55 minutes, a closer finish might have been in store but Ken O’Halloran stood up well to his shot.
Cork then scored three of the next four points to put the issue to bed.
Scorers for Cork: B Hurley 1-4 (two frees), C O’Driscoll 0-3, D Goulding (one free), D Mac Eoin 0-2 each, M Collins, I Maguire, P Kerrigan, S Hickey 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: E Cleary 1-2 (two frees), D Tubridy (one free), S Collins, S McGrath 0-2 each, C O’Connor 0-1.
CORK: K O’Halloran (Bishopstown); K Histon (Cobh), E Cadogan (Douglas), C O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh); B O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh), J Loughrey (Mallow), Tomás Clancy (Fermoy); I Maguire (St Finbarr’s), M Collins (Castlehaven); K O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh), D Óg Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa), R Deane (Bantry Blues); D Mac Eoin (Ilen Rovers), D Goulding (Éire Óg), B Hurley (Castlehaven).
Subs: A O’Sullivan (Castletownbere) for Deane (9), L Connolly (Nemo Rangers) for K O’Driscoll (44), P Kelleher (Kilmichael) for Mac Eoin (49), K O’Hanlon (Kilshannig) for Maguire (60), S Hickey (Rockchapel) for Kerrigan (65), B Daly (Newmarket) for Loughrey (67).
CLARE: J Hayes (Lissycasey); K Hartnett (Meelick), M McMahon (Kilurry-Ibrickane), J O’Dea (Kilfenora); C O’Dea (Kilfenora), G Kelly (St Joseph’s Miltown), P Lillis (Cooraclare); G Brennan (Clondegad), C O’Connor (Coolmeen); S Collins (Cratloe), S Malone (St Joseph’s Miltown), S McGrath (Thomas Davis); M O’Leary (Kilmihil), E Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), D Tubridy (Doonbeg).
Subs: S Haugh (O’Currys) for O’Leary (7, injured), D Ryan (Éire Óg) for Hartnett, K Sexton (Kilmurry-Ibrickane) for Haugh (both half-time), P De Loughrey (Cratloe) for Hayes (45), G Kelly (St Joseph’s Miltown) for Malone (47), P Burke (Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin) for McGrath (56).
Referee: S Lonergan (Tipperary).