Cork debuted five players against the league champions, leaked a soft goal in first-half injury time and faced a penalty just after the break which could have put Clare ahead.
The home side finished seven points to the good, however. Their debutants survived, and even thrived, even if the team leaned heavily on goalkeeper Anthony Nash’s excellence from restarts and general play.
“I thought Clare created a lot of goal chances and kept themselves in the game,” said Cork boss Kieran Kingston,
“But the lads’ effort and fight and heart was very encouraging, that’s all you can ask for at this time of the year.
“It’s a risk when you play so many players together making their debut, we had five tonight in what was a tough game against tough opposition - and we brought in two more, so half the team was making its debut in the league. That’s a risk but how else are they going to learn?
“It’s chicken and egg. The safe option might be to put one or two in but between injuries and so on we put a lot of them in.
“They’re honest, they want to hurl for Cork, they’re hardworking and want to learn, but we have to keep it in context.
“It’s two points and no more.” Clare were slow to start, their opponents leading 0-5 to 0-2 at the end of the first quarter, the visitors’ wayward shooting a recurring issue.
Cork were 0-8 to 0-3 up as the game went into injury time but a wayward Cork clearance ended up with Podge Collins netting after Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash saved well from Tony Kelly, leaving it 1-3 to 0-8 at the half.
On the resumption Kelly faced Nash with a penalty, and Nash again saved well - Cork lifted the siege with a good Daniel Kearney point and were in the driving seat.
Though Kelly came into the game for Clare in the second- half with some good scores, Cork kept in front, newcomers Shane Kingston and Luke Meade impressing with their industry and accuracy, and were well worth their win.
Clare joint manager Gerry O’Connor acknowledged Nash’s influence: “The way the game was developing our biggest challenge was the Cork puck-out was putting us under huge pressure and we didn’t seem able to reset quick enough.
“He (Nash) was clever in how he used his puck-out, going short and long, and we just weren’t able to get set and to create that platform for ourselves.
“When we look at the stats we’ll probably be upset with the number of opposition puck-outs we lost.”
Cork boss Kingston expects Damien Cahalane, Steven McDonnell, Luke O’Farrell, Conor Lehane and Brian Lawton, out through injury for last Saturday, to return to training this week.
Clare management indicated Oisin O’Brien and Pat Donnellan may come into consideration for next weekend and stated Colm Galvin had not been selected for last weekend’s game, but added that their panel is open ended and under review.
For the Cork supporters there was a welcome glimpse of improved workrate, which Kingston acknowledged: “If your forwards don’t work hard you’re in trouble because your backline is going to be under fierce pressure.
“I thought we missed some chances in the first-half but the forwards kept trying to do the right thing.
“It didn’t always work but they put in a huge effort.”
The Banner faithful saw Tony Kelly motor well in the second half, hitting six from play, but will be keen to see the Ballyea man getting more support from his teammates. As Clare joint manager Donal Moloney said of Division 1A, the tests come thick and fast.
P. Horgan (0-5, 0-4 frees); S. Kingston, A. Cadogan (0-4 each); D Kearney, L Meade (0-2 each); S Harnedy, B Cooper, D Fitzgibbon, D Brosnan (0-1 each).
T. Kelly (0-6); P. Collins (1-1); D. Reidy (0-2 frees); A Shanagher. J Conlon 0-1 each.
A. Nash; K. Burke, C. Spillane, D. Griffin; C. Joyce, M. Ellis, M. Coleman; B. Cooper, D. Kearney; D. Fitzgibbon, S. Harnedy, S. Kingston; A. Cadogan, P. Horgan, L. Meade.
C. O’Leary for Ellis (59); R. O’Flynn for Fitzgibbon (62); L. McLoughlin and P. Haughty for Cooper and Kearney (both 68); D. Brosnan for Kingston (71).
D. Tuohy; S. Morey, C. Dillon, J. Browne; J. Shanahan, C. Cleary, B. Bugler; S. Golden, T. Kelly ( c); J. Conlon, P. Collins, C. Malone; A. Shanagher, S. O’Donnell, D. Reidy.
J. McCarthy for Reidy (HT); D. Fitzgerald for Golden (47); A. Cunningham for Golden (61).
J. Keenan (Wicklow).
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