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Clare's David Tubridy scores from the penalty spot during the NFL meeting with Cork in Cusack Park, Ennis, on Sunday. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty.

Banner fall agonisingly short against visiting Rebels, but secure league semi-final spot

National Football League Division 2 South Round 3
Cork 0-22 Clare 1-18

CLARE enjoyed the rarified air of being victorious in defeat this afternoon after securing a National Football League Division 2 Semi-Final spot on score difference over opponents Cork in Cusack Park, reports Eoin Brennan.
Level entering the final minute of additional time, Cork dug deep to obtain a last gasp winning point through John O’Rourke but ultimately it needed to be a goal if the Rebels were to leapfrog their hosts in the table after Clare, Cork and Kildare all finished on four points in the group standings.
Essentially, Cork required a three point victory to prevent Clare from setting up a penultimate stage clash with Mayo for a place in Division 1 for 2022. It also meant that Clare’s Division 2 status was secured for a fifth consecutive season whereas last year’s Division 3 champions Cork will have to beat Westmeath to avoid dropping immediately back down to the third tier.
The wide array of permutations were certainly to the fore throughout an inch-tight Munster tie that could have realistically gone either way. Indeed, with never more than a kick of the ball between them at any stage and the sides on level terms on ten occasions by the 73rd minute, the wafer-thin lines in Division 2 were highlighted once more.
A sleepy start from the home side was alleviated when a slick back-to-front move earned a penalty in the eighth minute. Stephen Ryan’s kick-out moved through Pearse Lillis and Darragh Bohannon before a long delivery was excellently tipped into the overlapping David Tubridy’s path by Gavin Cooney before being hauled down by Daniel O’Mahony.
Tubridy dusted himself off to cooly finish to the bottom left corner of the net to level the tie at 1-1 to 0-4, a score that would inspire Clare to take a 1-5 to 0-5 advantage into the first water break, thanks in the main to three more Tubridy points.
The refuelling process certainly worked wonders for the visitors who stormed into the second quarter with a six point unanswered rally, three from lively substitute Cathail O’Mahony, to turn the scoreline on its head for Cork to move 0-11 to 1-05 ahead by the 29th minute.
Points from midfielders Cathal O’Connor and Darren O’Neill did help Clare to lower the half-time arrears to just one at 0-12 to 1-08 and that compelling seesaw pattern would remain for the entirety of the second period.
Quickfire points through Pearse Lillis and Eoin Cleary nudged Clare back in front by the 39th minute, only to be pegged back by O’Rourke, with the swapping of points continuing on three more occasions by the final water break at 1-13 to 0-16.
With nothing less than a three point victory sufficient for Cork to progress, the visitors did up the ante, mainly through substitutes O’Mahony and Brian Hurley who both grabbed braces before the latter was sent off for a second yellow card in the 63rd minute at 0-20 to 1-15.
Crucially, Clare never reached for the panic button at any stage and now with a numerical advantage, duly chipped away at the deficit through Eoin Cleary placed balls before newcomer Aaron Griffin admirably kicked a superb equaliser in the 73rd minute.
A draw would have been the fairest result but a first defeat of 2021 won’t perturb Colm Collins’ men who no longer having to look over their shoulders when taking on last year’s All-Ireland finalists Mayo in a fortnight’s time.

CORK: Mícheál Martin (Nemo Rangers); Sean Powter (Douglas), Daniel O’Mahony (Knocknagree), Kevin Flahive (Douglas); Tadhg Corkery (Cill na Martra), Sean Meehan (Kiskeam), Mattie Taylor (Mallow); Ian Maguire (St. Finbarr’s), Paul Walsh (Kanturk); Sean White (Clonakilty), Ruairi Deane (Bantry Blues), Kevin O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh); John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), Cíaran Sheehan (Eire Og), Luke Connolly (Nemo Rangers).
Subs: Cian Kiely (Ballincollig) for O’Mahony (11, inj), Cathail O’Mahony (Mitchelstown) for Sheehan (22, inj), Brian Hurley (Castlehaven) for White (43), Mark Collins (Castlehaven) for Walsh (43), Paul Ring (Aghabullogue) for Powter (51), Kevin O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers) for Corkery (51), Damien Gore (Kilmacabea) for Connolly (64)

Scorers: Cathail O’Mahony (0-5, 1’45); Luke Connolly (3f), John O’Rourke (0-4 each); Tadhg Corkery, Brian Hurley (0-2 each); Paul Walsh, Kevin O’Driscoll, Sean White, Ian Maguire, Mattie Taylor (0-1 each)

CLARE: Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks); Ciaran Russell (Éire Óg), Cillian Brennan (Clondegad), Kevin Harnett (Newmarket-on-Fergus); Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora), Sean Collins (Cratloe), Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Darren O’Neill (Éire Óg), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen); Darragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels), Eoin Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare); Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg), David Tubridy (Doonbeg), Joe McGann (St Breckan’s)
Subs: Dean Ryan (Na Fianna, Dublin) for Harnett (22, inj), Conall Ó hÁiniféin (Ruan) for Ryan (HT), Emmet McMahon (Kildysart) for Walsh (53), Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Cooney (60), Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey) for McGann (60), Cormac Murray (St Joseph’s Miltown) for O’Neill (66)

Scorers: David Tubridy (1-8, 1-0 Pen, 6f); Eoin Cleary (0-4, 3f); Gavin Cooney, Cathal O’Connor, Darren O’Neill, Pearse Lillis, Darragh Bohannon, Aaron Griffin (0-1 each)

Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)

Clare’s Gavin Cooney aims for the posts ahead of Cork’s Kevin Flahive. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

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