Murphy was substituted, and Clare’s David Fitzgerald got a second yellow card for the loose challenge responsible for the injury.
It was an unsurprising turning point in a challenge game marking the official opening of the Cloyne GAA grounds. The contest was often frisky and confrontational, if not played at championship pace, and referee Fergal Horgan sent off a second player late on, Cork’s Christopher Joyce, for a wild pull, and more than once had to halt proceedings to defuse an off-the-ball shemozzle.
Cork were happy with their victory, but selector Pat Ryan acknowledged Clare, with an eye on next weekend’s NHL final against Waterford, had trained hard over their weekend in east Cork.
“It was competitive, obviously Clare have other things on their mind, and trained hard over the weekend. We trained hard ourselves this last week, and have another heavy week again coming, so we were delighted to get the game. We saw Mark Ellis come back after injury, Alan Cadogan showed up well, and a few younger players got time.”
Certainly Cadogan was on any short list for man-of-the-match. All through Cork tried to isolate him and Seamus Harnedy, and their early industry pushed the Leesiders to a 0-7 to 0-1 lead. Clare were slower to get into the game, understandably enough, having trained the morning of the match, and had Tony Kelly showing up well. Peter Duggan and Conor O’Donnell (two frees) chipped away at Cork’s lead before Clare struck for the game’s first goal on 27 minutes. Kelly won the ball in midfield and dropped it in the Cork goalmouth, where Duggan first-timed to the net. That made the score 1-5 to 0-11, but Cork responded with four more points to Clare’s one before the break, giving them a 0-15 to 1-6 lead.
Cork added two more points before Murphy’s injury, in the 45th minute - after that the game got away from Clare, as Cork used their extra man to good effect. When Cadogan got Cork’s only goal on 52 minutes the game was over as a contest, and the home side knocked over the points as time wound down.
Clare can reflect on getting a competitive game into Tony Kelly, which will hearten the Banner ahead of next week’s league final, while Cork saw some of their fringe players in match conditions. Both sides benefited from the game, then.
“We worked very hard,” said Ryan. “I wouldn’t read too much into it, Clare have other things on their mind, as I said. But we got Aidan Walsh back, he’s worked very hard - after breaking his nose he got a bad bout of illness. He’s a great leader in the group, and he and Mark (Ellis) add great physicality to the team.
“The championship remains the main priority. We were disappointed with the league, how we played at the start of the year, but the lads are sharp and we’re happy with the place we’re in now.”
Ryan also offered a quick medical update: “Stephen (McDonnell) has a bad bruise on the elbow, it’s swollen but nothing to keep him out for too long. Cormac has a concussion, he’ll be out for two weeks, and Damien (Cahalane) has a calf injury.”
S. Harnedy (6 frees)(0-8); A. Cadogan (1-5); W. Egan (2 frees), L. O’Farrell (1 free), P. Haughney (0-2 each); L. McLoughlin, D. Kearney, B. Lawton, B. Cooper, J. Cronin, A. Walsh, W. Leahy (0-1 each).
P. Duggan (1-1); T. Kelly, C. O’Connell (1 free), (0-3 each); C. O’Donnell (0-2); J. McCarthy, C. Cleary, B. Duggan, M. O’Malley (0-1 each).
A. Nash; S. McDonnell ( c), D. Cahalane, C. O’Sullivan; L. McLoughlin, C. Joyce, C. Murphy; A. Walsh, W. Egan; B. Lawton, B. Cooper, J. Cronin; A. Cadogan, S. Harnedy, D. Kearney.
M. Ellis for McDonnell (inj)(HT); N. Cashman for Murphy (inj)(45); L. O’Farrell for Harnedy (50); P. Haughney for Kearney (55); M. O’Halloran for Cadogan (57); M. Russell for McLoughlin and C. O’Leary for Cahalane (inj) (65).
D. Tuohy, C. O’Doherty, S. McNamara, S. Morey, J. McCarthy, J. Browne, C. Cleary, G. O’Connell, C. Ryan, S. Golden, T. Kelly ( c), B. Duggan, M. O’Malley, P. Duggan, C. O’Connell.
A. Fahy for Tuohy, D. Fitzgerald for McCarthy and A. Shanagher for Golden (HT); O. O’Brien for Morey (50).
F. Horgan (Tipperary)