Rescue point was ‘hit and hope’, admits O’Donovan

He will go down in the All-Ireland hurling final annals alongside Joe Canning but, in all honesty, Domhnall O’Donovan didn’t know much about his point that was heard all around the hurling world.

Rescue point was ‘hit and hope’, admits O’Donovan

While Canning displayed his usual poise to stroke over the free that sent last year’s final to a replay, corner-back O’Donovan admitted his was more a “hit and hope” effort.

And the corner-back has no apologies to make for that because, unlike Galway’s gifted goalsmith Canning, O’Donovan is a corner-back who had never scored in the Championship before.

In fact, when he failed to get on the mark against Laois, a tie which saw the majority of his peers augment their Championship tallies, O’Donovan was the butt of dressing-room jokes.

This time around, after dissecting the Cork posts at the Davin End in the most dramatic of circumstances with almost 73 minutes of the clock, he was the toast of the Clare dressing room.

“I don’t know, it was a bit of hit and hope,” smiled O’Donovan. “I hit it falling over. I didn’t see the ball too much as it went over. I just heard the crowd (cheering), thankfully. So I kind of knew then that the game was saved.

“It was my first ever Championship point. I got a bit of slagging after the Laois game when, I think, 13 of the 14 outfield players scored and I was the only one not to. Even the sponsor, Pat O’Donnell, was giving me a bit of slagging about that one.

“I tweeted afterwards that people should stop slagging me about not scoring or else I’ll get bad notions about myself. I actually seen a few people retweeting that today.”

It was the rarest of points from the Clonlara man but his family do have a history of important late scores in hurling finals at Croke Park.

Back in 2009, Domhnall’s twin brother, Cormac, shot the winning score for Clare in the All-Ireland U21 final win over Kilkenny, a breakthrough success in the county.

“I think his was a bit of a better point than mine, in fairness,” said Domhnall. “He would be a much more prolific shooter than I. I think everyone had their heads in their hands when I had the ball and I was shooting but it managed to go over, thankfully.”

The corner-back revealed the thought process that put him a position to be up the field, punting over the all-important equalising score.

“When Pat Kelly had the ball from the puck-out, I said, ‘I’m not looking for the ball but I’ll make myself available if he wants, because my job as a defender is over. I mean, if Cork score again, it doesn’t make a difference’,” recalled O’Donovan.

“I said I’d make myself available and if he thinks I’m the right person to give the ball to, he can. Somehow, it went to Pat O’Connor and Nicky O’Connell and then Nicky popped it out to me.

“I had a bit of a look up so that I wouldn’t be closing my eyes and shooting. Growing up, my left side was always my best side even though I’m a right-handed hurler. The lads said it went so high in the sky that they didn’t know where it was going.

“I didn’t focus on the ball too much. I just heard the crowd and I knew the ball had gone over the bar. So I just sprinted back, the what-if scenario, maybe there might be a few seconds left for Cork to score so I had to get back.”

Davy Fitzgerald admitted afterwards Padraic Collins was beating himself up despite a good game. Collins missed a goal opportunity shortly before Pa Cronin netted for Cork. “Cork got the goals and we missed the goals, I had the one myself where I should’ve scored,” admitted Collins.

“I went to kick it and it hit off Anthony Nash. I thought if I cut it, he’d be able to get it away so that’s why I kicked it. Goals win games but thankfully they didn’t today. I think if we look back, we did have the goal chances. We just need to start taking them.”

Clare forward colleague Darach Honan said he was left dazed by a strike to his helmet by Cork full-back Shane O’Neill. “For a couple of minutes I was dizzy enough but I’m not going to make a big deal out of it,” said Honan, who was booked, along with O’Neill. “We both got yellows but I didn’t feel I deserved a yellow anyway.”

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