Pat Kenneally’s charges were branded virtual no-hopers ahead of their semi-final away to Waterford, the Déise men boasting 10 members of Derek McGrath’s panel, and the Rebels are once again being dismissed entering the decider against Clare.
However, tonight’s assignment carries a far higher degree of difficulty.
Clare, led by seniors Seadna Morey, Jack Browne, Colm Galvin, Peter Duggan, Shane O’Donnell and 2013 Hurler of the Year, Tony Kelly, are chasing the three-in-a-row, a feat last achieved by Limerick at the turn of the millennium.
For Cork, much will depend on the exploits of full-forward Alan Cadogan. Unfair responsibility perhaps, but given his senior displays this summer it now comes with the territory. Clare’s balance, consequently, to prove the deciding factor.
CORK: P Collins (Ballinhassig); S Murphy (Blackrock), C Barry (Castlelyons), C Buckley (Na Piarsaigh); K Kavanagh (Carrigaline), K Burke (Midleton), K McIntyre (Carrigaline); D Brosnan (Brian Dillons), R Cahalane (Ballymartle); S O’Keeffe (Blackrock), C Spillane (Castlelyons), M Collins (Ballinhassig); A Spillane (Castlelyons), A Cadogan (Douglas), R O’Shea (Carrigaline).
CLARE: K Hogan (Clooney-Quin); J Colleran (St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield), J Browne (Ballyea), S Morey (Sixmilebridge); J Shanahan (Sixmilebridge), C Cleary (Kilmaley), G O’Connell (Ballyea); E Enright (Kilmaley), C Galvin (Clonlara); B Duggan (Clarecastle), T Kelly (Ballyea); P Duggan (Clooney-Quin); A Cunningham (Wolfe Tones), S O’Donnell (Éire Óg), D Reidy (Éire Óg).