By Michael O Connor.
Modernity reached Munster final day with Guns and Roses, Katie Perry and Dropkick Murphy’s providing prematch entertainment. Modernity also brought a new trend in low attendances. Hopes prematch for 12,000 proved a pipe dream with just over 9,000 present in the Gaelic grounds. Sadly for the Clare team who had such little support mirroring the public perception of their chances they were blown away by three first half goals and despite honest endeavour were never going to trouble a Cork side in first gear.
Cork made two changes with Eoghan Cotter in for Graham Canty as Fintan Gould replacing Patrick Kelly. The omens were horrible from a Clare perspective after Alan O Connor pointed straight from the throw in as Gordon Kelly at centre back was in trouble from the runners up the centre. He was moved to left half back as John Hayes moved to centre back. Ciaran Sheehan added a second Cork score as a rout looked on the cards. Clare kicked two wides before David Tubridy got Clare on the scoresheet from a close range free after 6 minutes action. Ciaran Sheehan kicked Cork’s third score after 7 minutes and six minutes elapsed before the game’s next score as Rory Donnelly was on target from 25 yards. Calamity for Clare and delight for Cork as Fintan Gould hit the Clare net after breaking through the centre after 15 minutes as a huge gap persisted in the centre of midfield even though Gary Brennan was catching well and right in front of Barry Duggan allowing the Cork midfield to rule the roost. Colm O Neill (2) and Michael O Shea (2) were on the mark in a four minute spell as it seemed Clare had steadied the Cork onslaught before a further hammer blow as Alan O Connor burst through three Clare challenges giving Joe Hayes no chance from in front of goal to send Cork (2-5) to (0-4) clear.
Once more Clare rallied and to their credit were getting the ball into the final third of the field but lack of confidence and rushed shot selection allowed the wide tally to mount with ease. Gary Brennan raced upfield but kicked straight across Alan Quirke’s goal before Clare kicked scores courtesy of David Tubridy and Gary Brennan before Donnacha O Connor responded for the Rebels after 29 minutes. Whatever lingering hope remained for a competitive second half was extinguished as once again Cork raced clear with Paul Kerrigan making yardage before floating a ball across the square to be doubled to the net by Nicholas Murphy for the third Cork goal. Kerrigan added another score from play before the final score of the half went to Michael O Shea who had his third point of the first half to leave Cork strolling clear on a (3-7) to (0-7) scoreline.
The official attendance of 9,139 were crying out for a contest and that would only arrive if Clare hit two goals and Cork were to go missing. Little chance of that especially when Cork hit the opening two points to stretch 11 points clear with Ciaran Sheehan and Donnacha O Connor on target before David Tubridy pulled one back from a rebound after Rory Donnelly’s goal effort was saved. Craloe’s Barry Duggan saved Clare’s blushes when he was on the goal line to deny Colm O Neill a fourth Cork goal. Clare had three attacks in a row with just a fourth Michael O Shea point to show for all the industry. The following score resulted in Rory Donnelly getting on the scoresheet as Clare hit finally double figures as their half back line continued to concede space and possession with regularity.
Cork were now doing just what had be achieved without ever leaving the comfort zone and they added two further Colm O Neill scores before Gordon Kelly was in the unlikely position of full forward but made no mistake. A score for score routine was beginning to emerge as Clare were incapable of breaching the last line of the Cork defence as the rebels were happy to do the minimum bringing on subs for game time. Paul Kerrigan, Gary Brennan, Daniel Goulding(2), Rory Donnelly and Ciaran Sheehan were point scorers in a seven minute spell before Paul Kerrigan saw his goal effort deflected to safety by Joe Hayes as Clare were 11 points adrift. The final score of the game fell for Barry O Driscoll as the crowd barely lifted a cheer when Eddie Kinsella blew the long whistle to end a one sided final that was ended by a hat trick of first half goals.
CORK: Alan Quirke, Ray Carey, Michael Shields, Eoin Cadogan, Paudie Kissane, Eoghan Cotter, Noel O Leary, Alan O Connor, (1-1) Aidan Walsh, Ciaran Sheehan (0-4), Fintan Gould (1-0), Paul Kerrigan(0-2), Colm O Neill (0-4), Donnacha O Connor (0-2), Nicholas Murphy (1-0). Subs: Daniel Goulding (0-2) for Murphy, Denis O Sullivan for Kissane, James Fitzpatrick for O Connor, Barry O Driscoll (0-1) for Sheehan, Mark Collins for Gould.
CLARE: Joe Hayes, Kevin Hartnett, Barry Duggan, Laurence Healy, Enda Coughlan, Gordon Kelly (0-1), John Hayes, Gary Brennan (0-2), Ger Quinlan, Shane Brennan, Shane McGrath, Alan Clohessy, Rory Donnelly (0-3), David Tubridy (0-3), Michael O Shea (0-4). Subs: Graham Kelly for Coughlan, Niall Browne for Quinlan, David Russell for Clohessy, Shane McNeilus for Duggan, Conor Talty for S Brennan
Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Laois)