The Banner hadn’t beaten Cork at this level in over 32 years and had to live on their nerves in the closing minutes as the Leesiders spurned two golden opportunities.
While Cork enjoyed long periods of dominance, Clare never panicked and in a breakaway attack grabbed the all-important goal which sees them through to a semi-final meeting with Kerry.
Cork go into a round-robin series where they play Waterford with the winners to play Limerick. Whoever comes out of that will play Tipperary in the semi-final.
“We had a tremendous amount of work done and we knew coming down we’d run Cork very close,” said Clare selector Ger Keane. “We rode our luck on occasions but I’d like to think we deserved our victory. It’s a tremendous boost for football in the county and hopefully we can build on it.”
Clare opted to play with the elements from the start but struggled for scores against a very strong Cork defence in which full-back Eoin Cotter and wing-back Mark O’Brien settled early.
There was little to choose between the teams but Clare led 0-2 to nil after five minutes and were playing well enough to suggest they could pull off a surprise victory.
However, with Alan Barry and Fiachra Lynch giving them a grip at midfield, Cork were level after 10 minutes. But they then kicked four wides in-a-row, which proved costly.
Full-forward David Scannell missed a sitter after Fiachra Lynch put him through and a minute later Alan Barry crashed a shot off the crossbar. From those let-offs Clare began to enjoy their best spell.
John Hayes was solid at centre-back, while David Tubridy thundered into the game at wing-forward and Clare’s dominance was reflected on the scoreboard as they forged 0-5 to 0-2 in front after 20 minutes.
However, Cork finished the half well and at the beak were just the minimum in arrears after Kevin Jer O’Sullivan landed a point - their first for 12 minutes - and David Molden added another to leave Clare 0-5 to 0-4 ahead at the beak.
As the rain cascaded down and the wind freshened Cork took a firm grip on the game in the second-half and Fiachra Lynch tied the game for the second time with a superb long-range kick. David Gould edged his side in front for the first time with an equally fine point.
Cork looked as if they would win the game from that position but, in their anxiety for scores, they left gaps at the back. Sure enough, in a breakaway attack, substitute Keith Whelan picked out Dunning with a great pass across the face of the Cork goal. Despite getting his hands to Dunning’s effort, Cork keeper Tomas O’Connor couldn’t prevent the ball crossing the line.
Cork were rocked by that score but they laid siege to the Clare goal in search of an equaliser for the final minutes.
However, the Clare defence, superbly marshalled by Sean Flynn, displayed remarkable composure under the enormous pressure, and didn’t concede any frees.
You would have still banked on Cork at least forcing extra-time as they threw everything at Clare but Shane Drummy spurned two gilt-edge chances of an equalising point and the Banner youngsters clung on for a famous victory.
: Clare: S. O’Connell 0-4 (0-3 frees); C. Dunning 1-0; D. Tubridy 0-2. Cork: F. Lynch 0-3 (frees); D. Molden 0-2 (0-1 free); D. Scannell, KJ O’Sullivan, D. Gould 0-1 each.
: T. Cotter; J. O’Callaghan, E. Cotter, C. O’Brien; S. Kiely, A. Fenton, M. O’Brien; F. Lynch, A. Barry; C. O’Driscoll, D. O’Sullivan, D. Gould; D. Molden, D. Scannell, KJ O’Sullivan.
: C. O’Neill for Molden; C. Drummy for KJ O’Sullivan; M. O’Connor for D. O’Sullivan.
: P. deLoughrey; S. Canavan, G. Lyons, N. Breen; C. Lyons, J. Hayes, S. Finn; D. Cusack, D. Ryan; S. Cullinan, P. Conole, D. Tubridy, C. Donnellan; S. Monaghan, S. O’Connell.
: K. Whelan for Donnellan; D. Considine for C. Lyons; C. Drummy for Cullinan.
: M. Condon (Waterford).