Dazzling Cork regroup to fire warning with impressive dismantling of Clare

Cork 1-24 Clare 0-17: Cork outgunned Clare on Saturday night with a dazzling display of shooting at Páirc Ui Rinn, some breathtaking scores restoring the home support’s faith in the team after the disappointment of the opening night defeat to Kilkenny.

Dazzling Cork regroup to fire warning with impressive dismantling of Clare

Rarely has a league game been more in the shadow of its predecessor. Cork boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy mentioned the Kilkenny game, as did his Clare counterpart Davy Fitzgerald, when evaluating their own clash.

To judge by their comments, a lesson learned in black and amber is the ideal preparation for the following league game.

“We were very disappointed, ourselves and the players, with the performance last week,” said Barry-Murphy. “From that point of view we were looking for a reaction. I’m thrilled with the way they played tonight, I couldn’t be happier.”

Fitzgerald had been in Páirc Uí Rinn the previous weekend.

“They must have imported another 15 players, because they were a different team tonight. Or maybe the opposition just weren’t as good, but they had a lot more passion and fire tonight,” he said.

Cork had also addresses specific issues, said Barry-Murphy.

“We looked at the game, where we made mistakes and there were a lot of aspects to the game the previous Saturday night we weren’t happy with, but when you play Kilkenny you’ve to take it on the chin and learn from it.

“The players knew they had to be much better if they wanted to beat Clare at home, and when you’re playing at home you always want to play well, and they certainly did that tonight.”

The teams were evenly matched early on, with Cork trying to come to terms with early Clare switches — Colin Ryan went to centre-forward and Colm Galvin impressed at midfield — but the game turned on Cork’s goal 20 minutes in.

Seamus Harnedy slashed through the middle and hand passed to Luke O’Farrell, who found the net.

Cork never looked back: they led 1-12 to 0-12 at the half and took over after the break, Alan Cadogan tormenting the Clare backs as Patrick Horgan and Conor Lehane hit some sumptuous points.

Barry-Murphy pointed out that one lesson they’d learned from Kilkenny was the importance of defending as an entire team.

“Backs are often dependent on the kind of ball coming into them. We worked on that this week, to minimise the quality of the ball coming in on our backs.”

Fitzgerald was frank about the contest.

“There was only one team in it, Cork were by far the better team. I thought we held our own for 25 minutes, but I thought the goal changed the game as a contest.

“I thought it was the only time Conor Cleary lapsed on Seamus Harnedy, I thought he did pretty well up to that. That had a bearing on it but in the second half there was only one team in it.

“We’re improving slowly but it’s the 20th of February, we’ll see where we are in May or June. If we’re still that way we’re in trouble.”

Barry-Murphy was also realistic about the time of year.

“It can be a funny time, some players don’t perform well, but luckily enough the conditions were good tonight. We were very flat last Saturday but much better tonight.”

Fitzgerald pointed out that Cork need consistency to remain a force, and his point was well made. The attitude and application they displayed on Saturday was a huge improvement on their last outing, but they were aided by a better balanced selection. Aidan Walsh was involved and energetic, Luke O’Farrell threatening, and Alan Cadogan a constant irritation for Clare.

Despite the Clare manager’s words — “we have what we have” — Tony Kelly remains the vital cog in their machine, the key to the angles they create and exploit in the opposition half.

As Fitzgerald said, they won’t be the same if they play Cork again. If they have Kelly in their ranks they’ll be a good deal better.

Scorers for Cork: P. Horgan 0-14 (0-9 fs, 0-1 65); C. Lehane 0-4, L. O’Farrell 1-1; A. Nash (f), C. Murphy, A. Walsh, S. Harnedy and A. Cadogan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clare: Colin Ryan 0-10 (0-8 fs, 0-1 65); J. Conlon 0-3; B. Duggan 0-2; B. Bugler and P. O’Connor 0-1 each.

CORK: A. Nash, D. Cahalane, C. Joyce, C. O’Sullivan, L. McLoughlin, M. Ellis, C. Murphy, A. Walsh, D. Kearney, C. Lehane, S. Harnedy, R. O’Shea, A. Cadogan, L. O’Farrell, P. Horgan.

Subs: P. Cronin for O’Shea 11-14 (bs); S. Moylan for O’Shea and P. Cronin for Walsh, both 59; A. Spillane for Horgan, 64.

CLARE: P. Kelly, D. O’Donovan, C. Dillon (jc), J. Browne, P. O’Connor, C. Cleary, Conor Ryan, B. Bugler, C. Galvin, B. Duggan, Colin Ryan, J. Conlon, P. Donnellan (jc), S. O’Donnell, D. Reidy.

Subs: S. Morey for O’Donovan, 34; C. McGrath for D. Reidy HT; S. Golden for Cleary and A. Cunningham for Donnellan, both 51; C. O’Connell for Duggan, 63.

Referee: J. Ryan (Tipperary).

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