Cork’s clinical scoring ability in contrast to Clare’s wastefulness in front of goal was the difference between winning and losing Sunday’s Munster hurling final, according to RTÉ’s analysts.
Liam Sheedy, Cyril Farrell, and Henry Shefflin were all in agreement that while not having witnessed a great first half, Clare needed to cast off their shackles to have any hope of catching a more vibrant Cork.
Trailing 1-10 to 0-8 at the break, Shefflin wanted more instinctive play from the Clare forwards while singling out Cork’s Darragh Fitzgibbon for an all-action performance thus far. “Tony Kelly needs to get into the game more, as does Conor McGrath and Podge Collins, while Darragh Fitzgibbon has probably been the standout player of the game so far,” said Shefflin.
“Nineteen years of age and he is bossing midfield. I think Clare just need to throw off the shackles and just go at it. This is what we have been saying about hurling. It is an instinctive game, just throw it and go because Clare have the players. If they do that they have a chance but it is looking like Cork at the moment.”
Tipperary All-Ireland winner Sheedy concurred, stating: “If those Clare players were to come off the field now at half-time then they would have completely underachieved.
“In a great sporting day like this, you want to go out and want to put your best sporting foot forward at the very least. To me, Clare haven’t really matched up and haven’t got enough quality ball into their forwards. A lot of soul-searching to do during half-time and they have to decide that ‘if we are going to lose let’s at least lose admirably’.”
At the end, the RTÉ panel could only praise Cork’s efforts in seeing off a spirited Clare to claim the provincial crown.
As the Cork fans poured out on to the Semple Stadium turf, Michael Lyster posed the question: Who would have thought it possible, the Rebels coming from nowhere to become All-Ireland contenders?
“It is a phenomenal turnout by Cork hurling to see the way their minors expressed themselves earlier and see the way their senior team has gone about their business again today,” said Sheedy.
“On a Munster final day, you are looking for someone to do something special and for me, Cork had two players that did that. Up front, Alan Cadogan was a joy to watch and scored 1-4 on the biggest day in Munster hurling. He was buzzing around all day and was a real pain to that Clare defence.
“Likewise, Mark Coleman showed experience beyond his youth and, to me, he has been the best player I’ve seen this year.”
Cyril Farrell pointed out that Clare played “very defensively”, but applauded Kieran Kingston’s tactical approach.
“Cork kept their puckouts short and that meant that Damien Cahalane could go over the sweeper and reach a very good full-forward line, all of them played well in there,” he said.
“It never looked like Clare would win it because Cork were always a few points up, they knew they were going to win the puckouts.
“Clare will have to reorganise for the qualifiers but Cork will be very happy because they are on a roll.”
And Farrell recognised that this is a team that has captured imaginations on Leeside.
“The whole town was full of Cork today and they outnumbered Clare two or three to one in supporters, I’d say.
“It does no harm to see them coming out on to the pitch and there is never any trouble between supporters anyway.”
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