It was a dreadful match, riddled with frees and while both sides shot 15 wides, there was no disputing Clare deserved victory.
With so many former senior players on duty, the game was expected to be a lively affair but it was anything but. Both defences were on top so scores were at a premium and after 22 minutes of play the sides had only managed a point each.
In between Clare hit nine wides while Cork had eight. The dominance of Alan McNamara and John Reddan in the Clare half backline kept the pressure on Cork for whom Liam Hayes and Patrick Dwyer did well.
John Halberd had Cork’s second point in the 24th minute — their first for 16 minutes — but Clare were level a minute later and it was 0-2 each after 25 minutes of uninspired hurling. However the game improved before the break as Clare hit three points in a row, two by Mark Flaherty to enjoy a 0-6 to 0-3 lead at the end of a best forgotten first half.
The standard of play improved marginally in the second half. Thomas Murray cut a line ball over the bar for a Cork point four minutes after the resumption, but Flaherty replied with a like score.
Leigh Desmond took off on a great run before setting up substitute Sean O’Sullivan for a goal and when O’Sullivan added a point it looked as if the champions would prevail.
However Clare were playing the better hurling with John Reddan continuing to dominate at centre back and three points in a row by Flaherty, had the Banner one to the good with eight minutes to go.
Cork did have a chance of a second goal but Halbert was denied by Clare keeper Brendan McNamara. It was as close as they got to saving the match as a far hungrier Clare side closed out the match with points by Conor McMahon and Adrian Fleming.
Scorers for Clare: M. Flaherty 0-8 (0-7 frees); C. Lafferty, P. Keyes, C. McMahon, A. Fleming 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cork: S. O’Sullivan 1-1; L. Desmond 0-2; J. Halbert, T. Murray, J. Horgan 0-1 each.
B. McNamara; T. Keogh, K. Kennedy, E. Collins; B. McPhillips, J., Reddan, A. McNamara; D. Kennedy, H. Hayes; M. Flaherty, F. Flynn, C. McMahon; G. McPhillips, P. Keyes, B. McMahon.
Subs: C. Lafferty for B. McMahon; M. Hawes for A. McNamara; C. Earlie for G. McPhillips.
K. O’Halloran; J. Crowley, L. Hayes, J. O’Callaghan; P. O’Brien, P. O’Dwyer, D. Fitzgerald; E. Dillon, J. Horgan; B. Corry, L. Desmond, S. Halbert; A. Mannix, J. O’Callaghan, T. Murray .
Subs: S. O’Sullivan for Mannix; S. White for Horgan; P. Murphy for Murray.
F. O’Driscoll (Limerick).