Cork v Clare talking points: The boom is back for hurling on the banks of the Lee

These are boom times for Cork hurling, their Round 2 qualifier win continuing the run of strong recent form at all grades
Cork v Clare talking points: The boom is back for hurling on the banks of the Lee

Cork's Seamus Harnedy and Conor Cahalane celebrate at the final whistle. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Patrick Horgan joins elusive club

Hurling history came on the double in Round 2 of the All-Ireland qualifiers. Firstly, there was Joe Canning leapfrogging Henry Shefflin in the all-time Championship scorers list with his 0-9 haul against Waterford. Then Patrick Horgan joined an exclusive club of hurlers - which also includes Galway great Canning - who have broken the 500-point barrier in Championship hurling (goals and points combined).

Horgan came into the game with 22-433 to his credit, adding up to precisely 499 points. He hit the 500 mark in the second minute with a point from play though it was his 501st score in a Cork jersey that was his most memorable of the 10 he struck on the afternoon.

Horgan had to improvise for this one after initially falling to his knees about 25 metres out on the right, somehow generating enough power from his wrists to split the posts. The one accolade he truly wants is an All-Ireland winners medal and this could yet be his and Cork's year.

Mistakes cost Clare

Clare couldn't be criticised for a lack of effort or energy against Cork, or throughout the Championship for that matter, but errors and wasteful play cost them dearly. They struck 22 wides in the Munster quarter-final against Waterford while 1-12 of Wexford's tally in Round 1 of the qualifiers came from turnovers on Clare players.

Clare escaped with wins on both occasions and got lucky again in the first-half against Cork when Eibhear Quilligan pulled off a stunning save to deny Jack O'Connor after a turnover on Rory Hayes.

Cork's Jack O'Connor with Either Quilligan of Clare. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Cork's Jack O'Connor with Either Quilligan of Clare. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

But Darragh Fitzgibbon would punish Clare soon after with a point following a turnover while Clare's 18 wides were ultimately the difference between success and failure. Many of those were struck from distance so were hardly gimmes but it's clearly an area of Clare's game that requires improvement with 2022 in mind.

Tony Kelly seals another All-Star

Tony Kelly curiously missed out on the Man of the Match award but his performance against Cork may just have sealed him another All-Star.

It wasn't his finest first-half admittedly but he single handedly dragged Clare back into contention midway through the second-half, scoring six points in a row at one stage. His 46th minute point from the left wing after somehow escaping Niall O'Leary's clutches - O'Leary was literally grabbing at his midriff though John Keenan sensibly allowed the advantage - had social media in a tizzy.

Tony Kelly of Clare takes a shot on goal in injury-time which would have won the game for Clare. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Tony Kelly of Clare takes a shot on goal in injury-time which would have won the game for Clare. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

His penalty conversion and subsequent close call with another goal attempt, to potentially win the game, were memorable too. But what about Kelly's speed of thought to realise that Tim O'Mahony had got just enough of a glancing touch on a 42nd minute sideline cut to put the ball back in play? O'Mahony couldn't touch it again so Kelly nipped in, claimed possession and picked a point from long range.

The boom is back for Cork hurling

These are boom times for Cork hurling, their Round 2 qualifier win continuing the run of strong recent form at all grades. A fortnight ago, the county's U20s won a first All-Ireland at the U-20/U-21 grade since 1998.

Their 2021 group got off to a fast start in the current championship with a 3-20 to 2-17 defeat of Tipperary last Tuesday night. The Cork minors have a Munster semi-final on Tuesday evening against Limerick having already put 6-28 on the board against Clare.

The Banner minors were restricted to just six points in that game so while Cork are flying high, at all ages, these are tougher times within Clare. At U20 level they have made no progress in recent years despite dominating that grade between 2009 and 2014.

Their seniors at least went down fighting against Cork and beating both Waterford and Wexford means they can take plenty from their Championship.

Cork manager Kieran Kingston at the final whistle. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Cork manager Kieran Kingston at the final whistle. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Lohan can be happy too with the development of players like Aidan McCarthy, Mark Rodgers, Ryan Taylor and Gary Cooney, the latter displaying his goal threat again.

Despite falling just short, Banner last the pace

The fear from a Clare perspective was that Cork's youth and freshness would be a significant factor, particularly on another hot afternoon. This was Clare's fourth Championship game in five weekends and while they did look a little sluggish initially, they were still on level terms with 25 minutes played.

Cork led by four at half-time and must have fancied themselves to kick on but Clare's impressive conditioning - both physical and mental - allowed them to actually win the second-half, 1-12 to 1-10.

Even trailing by six points in stoppage time they refused to yield and clawed back 1-1 to put themselves in a position to potentially win the game with the last attack.

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