Hurling replay draws universal praise

A number of the country's leading sports stars took to social media to praise the excellence, excitement and sheer spectacle served up by Clare and Cork in yesterday's All-Ireland SHC final replay.

Hurling replay draws universal praise

A number of the country's leading sports stars took to social media to praise the excellence, excitement and sheer spectacle served up by Clare and Cork in yesterday's All-Ireland SHC final replay.

The teams played out another thrilling 70 minutes at Croke Park, bringing what has already been a hugely enjoyable Championship to a close with goal-hungry Clare triumphing on a 5-16 to 3-16 scoreline.

It was Clare's first All-Ireland senior success since 1997 and completes quite a season for the Banner men, whose Under-21s were crowned All-Ireland champions just a fortnight ago.

Shane O'Donnell, a late inclusion in Clare's attack yesterday, scored three first-half goals to become the first 19-year-old to register a hat-trick in an All-Ireland senior decider since Kilkenny's Tommy O'Connell achieved the feat in 1959.

Yesterday's classic contest played under the Croker floodlights - another first - was also the first 70-minute All-Ireland SHC final to produce eight goals.

The last time such a goal-scoring tally was achieved was during the 80-minute final between Kilkenny and Cork in 1972. The first 70-minute final was played in 1975.

Clare's win came only six days after Dublin's footballers lifted the Sam Maguire Cup. One of the victorious Dubs and a noted hurler himself, Ciarán Kilkenny, was back at GAA headquarters to witness the hurling replay.

Showing his admiration for the All-Ireland hurling finalists, Kilkenny tweeted: "Greatest spectacle on the planet, a privilege to say I was there. #AClassicfortheages."

Former World champion boxer Bernard Dunne, who was part of the Dublin footballers' backroom team this season and is a good friend of Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald, took to Twitter to say: "Great to witness such an exciting game of hurling today. Congrats to Clare & delighted for Mr Fitz."

Joe Brolly, an All-Ireland winner with Derry in 1993 and an RTÉ pundit who does not mince his words, tweeted: "For Gaels, what the rest of the world understands as 'sport' is not sport at all. The world doesn't know what it's missing."

Cork's own Diarmuid O'Sullivan, the powerful full-back who won All-Irelands in 1999, 2004 and 2005, believes the current Rebels side will bounce back from yesterday's disappointment.

'The Rock' tweeted after the game: "To say I'm gutted is an understatement, but we are Cork, we don't die and we won't go away! We'll done to the Banner."

Fellow Rebel Rob Heffernan, who last month won the 50km walk at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow, is also confident that Cork will come back stronger in 2014.

The proud Corkonian took to Twitter to say: "Clare were just the better team, congrats. Cork, in fairness, got close. Roll on 2014, take the positives and move on.

"Nobody has the right to develop in sport, I have no doubt Cork will build on this and will be better for it. Still lots of moments to enjoy."

Karl Lacey, an All-Ireland winner with Donegal last year and the 2012 Footballer of the Year, tweeted: "Flicking between the Hurling & the Premiership and you would swear the hurlers are the professional athletes #NoComparison #BodiesOnTheLine."

Another former All-Ireland football winner, Tyrone's Owen Mulligan, thinks the game of hurling deserves an even bigger global stage, tweeting: "Hurling should be included in the next Olympics #rio16."

Glasgow Celtic manager Neil Lennon, who played in the same Armagh minor football team as Kiernan McGeeney, tweeted his congratulations to Clare: "Tremendous achievement by Clare hurlers to win the All-Ireland...few of my Cork friends have long faces today!"

Kildare football legend Dermot Earley spoke of his awe at the eight-goal thriller, tweeting: "That game had everything! Well done Clare, and Cork too!! I'll need to go for a walk now just to come down! #GAAatitsbest."

Cork footballer Ciaran Sheehan, who was rumoured to be have been training with Jimmy Barry-Murphy's hurlers in recent weeks, commiserated with his county colleagues.

"Hard luck to the lads today, showed some bottle right throughout, that never say die attitude is a rare thing in any team #headsup #nextyear," tweeted Sheehan.

Leicester City and Republic of Ireland underage soccer player Dylan Casey, a proud Clare man, tweeted: "Grew up playing hurling with this man @townhurler, (Shane O'Donnell) got man of the match and scored 3-3 in the All-Ireland final #King."

Meanwhile, Mayo footballer Michael Conroy, who played in last Sunday's All-Ireland football final, wondered if Shane O'Donnell is without a girlfriend at present, as the hat-trick hero is sure to be 'tightly marked' by the fairer sex over the coming weeks and months!

Conroy said on his Twitter page: "I just hope Shane O'Donnell is single. The man has the busiest winter of his life ahead of him. He can delete his Tinder account. #willneedhelp."

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