Dramatic finish sends Clare and Cork to replay

Clare and Cork will meet again to decide the destiny of the Liam McCarthy Cup after a momentous decider finished level at Croke Park.

Dramatic finish sends Clare and Cork to replay

Pic: INPHO

Clare 0-25

Cork 3-16

Clare and Cork will meet again to decide the destiny of the Liam McCarthy Cup after a momentous decider finished level at Croke Park.

Clare corner back Domhnall O’Donovan popped up with a last gap equaliser deep into stoppage time to rescue a Clare side that had looked winners all the way.

But they were knocked back by three second half goals from a Rebel side that had struggled to find the net throughout the season.

All that changed in a drama-packed classic at GAA Headquarters when Anthony Nash, Cionor Nash and Pa Cronin all blasted in majors to derail the Banner title drive.

Pic: Sportsfile

Patrick Horgan finished with 10 points, while Clare’s Colin Ryan went two better with a magnificent dozen. Neither managed to finish on the winning side, but the real winner was the game of hurling. Roll on the replay!

Clare were ahead for almost the entire opening half, fortified by a confidence-boosting opening that saw them nail early scores from Darach Honan and Colin Ryan.

They set themselves up to counter Anthony Nash’s puck-outs, leaving Cork with a major problem in garnering first phase possession.

Pic: Sportsfile

Seamus Harnedy got Cork’s opening score in the sixth minute, and three Patrick Horgan frees had them level at 0-4 each by the 12th minute.

Ryan edged the Banner back in front with his second free, but the Banner defence was exposed when Daniel Kearney charged through a gap down the middle and unleashed a fierce shot, which goalkeeper Pa Kelly superbly kept out.

Moments later Kelly threw himself at a driven 20 metre free from opposite number Anthony Nash, and a relieved Clare side punished their opponents on the counter-attack.

Podge Collins, Conor McGrath and Ryan all steered over points as Clare eased into a double scores lead at 0-08 to 0-04.

Pic: Sportsfile

And Nash had to pull off a smart save to keep out a Honan snapshot as the Rebels came under sustained pressure.

However, they recovered to chip away at the deficit, Horgan again on target, including his first from play, a massive point from almost 90 metres.

Kearney also slotted over a point from play, as did wing back Brian Murphy.

Clare led by 0-12 to 0-10 at the break, and they continued to bring a remarkable intensity to the contest, forcing the Rebels into errors, which they exploited with further scores from Kelly and the unerring Ryan, who steered over his sixth free for a four points advantage.

Pic: Sportsfile

But the game changed suddenly in the 40th minute when Conor Lehane showed blinding pace to sprint through from deep and fire a shot to the bottom corner of the net.

Collins showcased his skills with an immaculate point as Clare went back into a two points lead, but they failed to fully capitalise on a dominant spell, with Ryan missing a couple of frees. He also had a shot on goal superbly blocked by Conor O’Sullivan.

But the Rebels were unable to stem the tide of yellow jerseys, and when Conor McGrath and Conlon split the posts, it was beginning to look like Clare’s day.

And when Ryan hit his ninth, all six Clare forwards had scored from play, a stat that Cork came nowhere close to matching.

Pic: Sportsfile

But they got themselves back in the game when goalkeeper Nash smashed a 20 metre free to the roof of the net in the 57th minute to narrow the gap to just two points.

Moments later, Cork were awarded a penalty for a foul on Harnedy, but Nash saw his drive deflected onto the crossbar by Domhnall O’Donovan, and ClAre rallied again to go three clear.

Cork were far from finished, however, and when Pa Cronin saw his chance, he picked his spot with an accurate finish to the net, and the sides were level going into the final five minutes.

Horgan appeared to have won it for them with his tenth score in stoppage time, but there was still time for O’Donovan to pop up with a dramatic leveller.

Clare: P Kelly, D O'Donovan (0-01), D McInerney, C Dillon, B Bugler, P Donnellan, P O'Connor, Conor Ryan (0-01), C Galvin, J Conlon (0-02), T Kelly (0-03), Colin Ryan (0-12, 11f), P Collins (0-03), D Honan (0-01), C McGrath (0-02).

Subs: C McInerney for Honan, F Lynch for Conlon, N O’Connell for McGrath

Cork: A Nash (1-00, f), S McDonnell, S O'Neill, C O'Sullivan, B Murphy (0-01), C Joyce, W Egan, L Mc Loughlin, D Kearney (0-02), S Harnedy (0-02), P Cronin (1-00), C Lehane (1-01), L O'Farrell, P Horgan (0-10, 8f), J Coughlan.

Subs: S Moylan for Coughlan, C McCarthy for McLoughlin, C Naughton for McCarthy, S White for Kearney

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly)

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