Clinical Cork crush Clare to seal final spot

LAST season, in Brian Cuthbert’s first competitive game in charge of the Cork minor footballers, they departed Cusack Park with a huge sense of relief after a late scoring spree helped them defeat Clare.

But when the teams met again at the Ennis venue last night, there was no such anxiety as Cork cruised to an emphatic Munster MFC semi-final success.

Clare helped create a genuine contest when these teams met in the opening round in Páirc Uí Rinn last month with a determined display.

They had made substantial progress through the backdoor stages since that clash, which left the team and its supporters in an optimistic mood.

However, Cork proved far too strong for their Banner opponents and forging a five-point lead while playing against the wind in the first-half laid the foundations for their victory.

Cuthbert had taken the scalpel to his starting 15 since their first round tie and that surgery paid off in the quality of performance that they produced here. Brian O’Driscoll’s relocation from wing-forward to centre-back was a major success as he was the launchpad for Cork’s best spells of play. At midfield Kevin Kavanagh provided Cork with a distinct aerial advantage and along with the impressive Sean Kiely, they helped control that sector.

Newcomer Cathal Vaughan from Iveleary shone in attack in the first-half with bright play while Mark Sugrue benefited from being switched to wing-forward for this game.

In defence Conor Dorman was authoritative at full-back while the dynamic Kevin Crowley sparkled at right half-back and was constantly at the heart of passing movements while Cork’s attacking talisman claimed five points from play.

Clare were left reeling after only 15 seconds. Cork won the ball from the throw-in and when Kiely and Kavanagh combined to feed Sugrue, the Bandon player careered through the defence before unleashing a blistering shot to the net. That set the tone for the game with Clare struggling to win clean ball around the middle third.

Cork were denied a goal in the 15th minute after a wonderful double-save by Clare netminder Darren Sexton to block efforts by MacEoin and Stephen O’Mahony. But Cork were still in a healthy position at the break, leading 1-5 to 0-3. Clare did not get off the mark until the 21st minute when Hickey converted a free and their best attacking move failed to yield a green flag in the 28th minute when Cork goalkeeper James McDonnell did brilliantly to tip over a shot by Eoin Cleary.

As they turned in the second-half with the wind at their backs, Cork started to play with confidence. O’Mahony, Sugrue, MacEoin and Cian O’Sullivan all claimed early points and although Eoin Cleary struck over a 43rd minute free, Clare were facing an eight-point deficit.

It was too much for them to overcome and Cork maintained their high standards until the finish with MacEoin the scorer in chief as they sealed a 13-point victory.

Scorers for Cork: D MacEoin 0-5; M Sugrue 1-2; C Vaughan 0-3 (0-2f); C O’Sullivan, B O’Driscoll (0-1 ‘45) 0-2 each; J Corkery (0-1f), S O’Mahony 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clare: N Hickey 0-3 (0-3f); E Cleary 0-2 (0-1f); J Malone 0-1.

CORK: J McDonnell; J Davis, C Dorman, K Fulignati; K Crowley, B O’Driscoll, T Brosnan; S Kiely, K Kavanagh; M Sugrue, D Harrington, C Vaughan; D MacEoin, S O’Mahony, C O’Sullivan.

Subs: A Cadogan for Harrington (37), J Corkery for O’Mahony (40), D Murphy for Brosnan (47), K McIntyre for O’Sullivan (54), A O’Connell for Kavanagh (57).

CLARE: D Sexton; O Vaughan, J Malone, C Gavin; S Lineen, D McDonagh, J Colleran; A O’Neill, C Cleary; E Cleary C Devitt, J Rouine; M O’Leary, N Hickey, J Scanlon.

Subs: W Flynn for Rouine (half-time), L Corbett for Devitt (40), C O’Brien for Lineen (48), E Donnellan for Scanlon (54).

Referee: Sean Joy (Kerry)

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