Kieran Kingston commended his players for the manner in which they fought back to rescue this victory in LIT Gaelic Grounds.
Down a man with what turned out to be over seven more minutes of play when Jack O'Connor picked up a second booking and losing Niall O’Leary to a yellow-sin bin combination in additional time, there was steel in how Cork finished the game from the impact of the young substitutes to Patrick Collins’s match-winning save from Tony Kelly.
“The overriding emotion is relief because that game ebbed and flowed. We weren't sure how our guys were going to react, we'd three weeks off. Was that going to be a good thing? With the rest we'd be fresh. Clare had momentum after a very good league campaign and three huge games, so we weren't sure would that momentum be too much to deal with.
“There was a lot of uncertainty coming into it from our point of view. We were apprehensive as to how that would work out. Relief is number one but fierce proud in the way the lads reacted and the character they showed for basically a very young team.
“Five points up to go a point down and Clare coming at us in waves. That was a real test of our character and I thought the lads reacted really well to that, really well coming down the stretch. The bench were really good even though they were young.
“We didn't have a lot of experience on the field besides Patrick Horgan, I think. Everyone else was 24 or under. That was obviously going to be a big concern as to how they would finish the game but it was great to see them finishing the game. But even still with that and 13 players on the pitch, we still needed a super save to get us out of there.”
Kingston openly admitted Cork “needed that win” and was pleased that once again his team were creating goal opportunities, a conversion of three from seven. “We were successful in doing a fair bit of that at the start of the league. We went away a little bit from it toward the latter end of the league.
“But today we tried to get back at it and I suppose it's really trying to get the balance between when to pop it and when to try and take it on and not go take the point. While you're evolving in that scenario, you will fall between two stools at times. You'll say it didn't work out, I gave a 50-50 pass and I should have put it over the bar. That's the evolution of the group and I think we're trying to work on it. When it comes off it's great and when it doesn't, it's not great.”
The perfect example of Cork’s determination to swap handy points for goal chances came in the 66th minute when Seamus Harnedy sacrificed an easy score attempt to put through Shane Barrett for the team’s third goal.
“Seamie had a point that he probably would have popped and a point that was needed but the goal chance was there and it wasn't a 50-50 goal chance, it was a 70-30 goal chance because Shane was gone inside. That's something we really encourage that we should be giving.”