In front of 804 spectators, it took some time for the hosts to shake off their visitors, with most of the first half a tight – and sometimes overly niggly – affair. However, after a well-worked Clare move ended with Eoin Cleary palming home to put them 1-3 to 1-2 in front in the 16th minute, they would add only a solitary point between then and half-time.
Cork, having looked like pushing on when Brian Hurley netted just before Cleary’s goal, eventually found more fluency in their play and by the break had created a six-point advantage, 1-10 to 1-4.
And yet, the solidity of that superiority was tested too at the outset of the second half. Tubridy, with a free from distance, and then Shane McGrath, when a goal was on, cut the Clare deficit to four. Cork’s Colm O’Driscoll – wearing 2 but spending most of the game in the Clare half as he followed Seánie Malone up the field – replied with his third point, but a second from Seán Collins left it 1-11 to 1-7.
Had Cleary netted when presented with a clear sight of goal on 55 minutes, a closer finish might have been in store but Ken O’Halloran stood up well to his shot. Cork scored three of the next four points to put the issue to bed and their manager Peadar Healy was pleased with the opportunity to have seen how his team responded when faced with a challenge.
“I have to take my hat off to Clare,” he said.
“They put it well up to us tonight and we were delighted with that game. You saw how rusty we were, there’s room for improvement. They tested us everywhere but we’ve used 30 players now in the McGrath Cup and it’s a great testament to the boys.
“In the second half, they went ultra-defensive, 14 men behind the ball, but that’s no harm in case we might come across that again further down the line.” Healy also confirmed that, apart from the retired John Hayes, he has everybody available to him, including Alan O’Connor, who will be in the panel for the Allianz Football League, which will be named on Monday.
“I’d hope that Alan would be back in about six to eight weeks,” he said.
“Unfortunately, it was a hernia injury, he had an operation so that held him back. He’s back training and he’s back running. That just takes time you know.”
Clare led three times in the opening quarter-hour, despite the early injury-enforced loss of Martin O’Leary. The score stood at 0-3 to 0-2 after Cathal O’Connor’s excellent point from a tight angle but Cork took the lead for the first time when Hurley stroked home from Dan Mac Eoin’s handpass.
The response was positive, though. Cleary started the move which saw possession moved through David Tubridy, Gary Brennan and Seán Haugh before the full-forward fisted in from close range.
Cork improved considerably after that, with Mac Eoin hitting the post with a goal chance while Mark Collins’ shot was tipped just over by Joe Hayes in the Clare goal. Captain Daniel Goulding and Brian Hurley added further points to leave six in it at the break and the same margin was between the teams at the end.
As well as commending the Munster Council, Mallow and Clare in his speech, stand-in captain Goulding made a nice mention of John Corcoran, who was buried yestery, stating that he had been a firm supporter of Cork football and would have been present otherwise. Victory was a fitting way to mark his passing.
B Hurley 1-4 (two frees), C O’Driscoll 0-3, D Goulding (one free), D Mac Eoin 0-2 each, M Collins, I Maguire, P Kerrigan, S Hickey 0-1 each.
E Cleary 1-2 (two frees), D Tubridy (one free), S Collins, S McGrath 0-2 each, C O’Connor 0-1.
K O’Halloran (Bishopstown); K Histon (Cobh), E Cadogan (Douglas), C O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh); B O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh), J Loughrey (Mallow), Tomás Clancy (Fermoy); I Maguire (St Finbarr’s), M Collins (Castlehaven); K O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh), D Óg Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa), R Deane (Bantry Blues); D Mac Eoin (Ilen Rovers), D Goulding (Éire Óg), B Hurley (Castlehaven).
A O’Sullivan (Castletownbere) for Deane (9), L Connolly (Nemo Rangers) for K O’Driscoll (44), P Kelleher (Kilmichael) for Mac Eoin (49), K O’Hanlon (Kilshannig) for Maguire (60), S Hickey (Rockchapel) for Kerrigan (65), B Daly (Newmarket) for Loughrey (67).
J Hayes (Lissycasey); K Hartnett (Meelick), M McMahon (Kilurry-Ibrickane), J O’Dea (Kilfenora); C O’Dea (Kilfenora), G Kelly (St Joseph’s Miltown), P Lillis (Cooraclare); G Brennan (Clondegad), C O’Connor (Coolmeen); S Collins (Cratloe), S Malone (St Joseph’s Miltown), S McGrath (Thomas Davis); M O’Leary (Kilmihil), E Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), D Tubridy (Doonbeg).
S Haugh (O’Currys) for O’Leary (7, injured), D Ryan (Éire Óg) for Hartnett, K Sexton (Kilmurry-Ibrickane) for Haugh (both half-time), P rey (Cratloe) for Hayes (45), G Kelly (St Joseph’s Miltown) for Malone (47), P Burke (Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin) for McGrath (56).
S Lonergan (Tipperary).