Fielding a vastly experienced side that included a number of players with provincial and All-Ireland medals in the grade and four member of this year’s All-Ireland U-21 winning team, the home side had matters very much all their own way and against a Clare side that battled gamely, but couldn’t match the skill and pace of their opponents.
Cork got the perfect start with a goal after just 15 seconds when Ciaran Sheehan, one of the four U-21 players, blasted home following up his initial effort which was blocked out to him by a defender.
It set the tone for this one-sided contest. The aerial dominance of Chris O’Donovan and Andrew O’Sullivan at midfield meant a plentiful supply of ball to the forwards and the scores began to flow in earnest.
Cathrach Keane led their Cork attack in fine style and had a brace of points, and the ease with which the home forwards were able to open up the Clare attack meant they were under constant pressure all through the opening half.
Colm O’Driscoll, another of the U-21 stars, was denied a goal by an excellent save by Clare ‘keeper Conor O’Loughlin but it was a temporary respite as the impressive Ciaran Sheehan, Cathrach Keane John Paul Murphy knocked over points at will to give the home side a 1-8 to 0-2 lead after 20 minutes.
In a rare attack Dessie Molohan, easily Clare’s best forward, had a point, their first for 15 minutes play, but Cork finished the half strongly to go in at the break 1-11 to 0-5 in front, Molohan scoring three of those Clare points. Clare made the changes for the second half bringing on three subs and switching full back Brian Cummins out on Cathrach Keane but the moves had little effect.
Sub Eoin Griffin did manage to get a point back for Clare but the speedy Cork forwards added three in a row, two by Daniel O’Donovan and after 40 minutes, the home side still had their nine-point half-time lead intact.
The Bannermen did raise hopes making a game of it with three points in a row, but Cork always had the facility to nip any threatened revival in the bud and tacked on four points in a row, two by Vincent Hurley, and it was very much a case of how much they were going to win by.
Clare needed a couple of goals if they were have any chance and while they did enjoy a lot of possession, they persisted in trying to walk the ball in and against a Cork defence, excellent marshalled by the vastly experienced Michael Prout, Enda Wiseman and yet another of the U-21 squad Aidan Walsh, they never threatened Kevin Murphy in goal.
Despite Clare’s best efforts the game petered out to its inevitable conclusion with Cork firmly in control to claim their third title in five years at this level.
It was no fault of Dessie Molohan, Mark McCarthy, Paul O’Connor and Brian Cummins up to the time he retired injured, that Clare failed to win a title that has eluded them since 1925.
Scorers – Cork: C. Sheehan 1-4; JP Murphy 0-4 (0-1 free); D. O’Donovan (0-2 free), V. Hurley, C. Keane, C. O’Driscoll 0-3 each; A. Walsh 0-1.
Clare: M. McCarthy (0-1 free), D. Molohan (0-2 frees) 0-5 each; E. Griffin, M. Kennedy, P. O’Connor 0-1 each.
CORK: K. Murphy; P. Gayer, E. Wiseman, M. Prout; R. O’Sullivan, A. Walsh, M. Fehily; A. O’Sullivan, C. O’Donovan; D. O’Donovan, C. Keane, C. O’Driscoll; V. Hurley, C. Sheehan, JP Murphy.
Sub: G. Healy for R. O’Sullivan (10); J. McLoughlin for Gayer (45); C. O’Connell for Fehilly (53); R. O’Mahony for Keane (55); N. O’Riordan for A. O’Sullivan (60).
CLARE: C. O’Loughlin; S. Canavan, B. Cummins, P. Aherne; B. Carrig, D. Blake, E. Doyle; N. Kennedy, P. O’Connor; S. Moloney, I. McInerney, B., Curtin; E. Griffin, J. Daly, D. Molohan.
Subs: E. Griffin for Doyle (half time); E. Lyons for Daly (half time); T. Madigan for Blake (half time); F. Lillis for Cummins (48); C. Dunning for Moloney (58).
Referee, K. O’Brien (Tipperary).