picks out three talking points from yesterday's Munster final in Thurles...
Cork answer their doubters
For a team who arrived unbeaten to a Munster final, and as reigning champions, Cork carried serious question marks with them. They failed to close out a nine-point lead against Tipperary and couldn’t leverage 45 minutes with an extra man for a win against Limerick.
Yesterday, they were the ones faced by the adversity of an eight-point deficit approaching the break. Their response was emphatic, outscoring Clare 1-7 to 0-1 in the minutes before and after the interval. It was a combination of guts, to grab 1-1 before the break, and brains, as they moved Darragh Fitzgibbon into attack.
He matched up against one of Clare’s most effective distributors, Jamie Shanahan, and caused him endless trouble with his pace. Shanahan was the first defender to be withdrawn and centre-back Conor Cleary soon followed.
Put simply, John Meyler highlighted a lack of work-rate, passion, and commitment in the first half. When it mattered most, it was there in spades.
Decoding the Clare collapse
Clare caused wreck to the Cork defence in the first half. John Conlon was unmarkable, Peter Duggan unerring, and David Reidy at times electric.
But where was their support in the scoring stakes? Even as the Cork defence wobbled and conceded acres of space, speedsters Tony Kelly, Podge Collins, and Shane O’Donnell struggled to profit. The latter was marked by a struggling Damien Cahalane after his switch off Conlon but the Cork full-back dominated O’Donnell.
He failed to punish a miscued puck-out, leaving a simple score short into the relieved Anthony Nash’s hand. Collins missed another good chance immediately after. There were 55 minutes and 2-14 on the board before Clare added a fourth scorer, Conor McGrath chipping in with a first-touch point. Cork already had seven scorers by then.
Meanwhile, Colm Spillane was getting a grip on Conlon, and Eoin Cadogan was improving on Duggan, and the Cork middlemen limiting the supply.
Clare’s Cork hoodoo continues
Since the 2013 All-Ireland final, Cork have put five wins in a row over Clare. They knocked them out in 2015, won Munster silverware against them in 2017, and repeated the dose this time out.
Clare had a weight of motivation behind them — no Munster title since ’98 and 2013 starting to look like an aberration in this rivalry — but still couldn’t stop Cork when push came to shove.
Cork have bookended the 2013 draw and replay with 12 consecutive wins over Clare the Banner.