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Clare U20 squad. Pic by Eugene McCafferty

Brave Banner Just Come Up Short In Munster U20 Football Semi-Final

Munster U-20 Football Semi-Final: Cork 1-12 Clare 2-7

A spirited finish from Clare was not enough to reel in Cork as the Rebels held off a late surge to advance to another decider where they will defend their title.

Clare will rue missed scoring chances with 11 wides over the course of the contest while a poor third quarter where Cork reeled off 0-7 without reply would prove decisive.

There has been plenty talk in both counties about commemorative jerseys to mark the efforts of local heroes of the War of Independence, but it was the Rebel county who found themselves in the eye of an ambush worthy of Rineen at half-time.

With 15 minutes on the clock, Cork led 1-2 to 0-1 and were looking well in control of proceedings. They were causing problems for the Clare kick-out and the quality of delivery to the inside line yielded several scoring chances. Tom O’Brien was called into action inside the opening five minutes with a point blank save from Blake Murphy, but the Cork joint captain arrowed over a free which been accrued in the lead up to the chance.

The first goal of the evening might have come to Cork, but it was all of Clare’s own making. A Murphy 45m free was spilled by the home defence and Jack Murphy punished to the maximum with a good finish from close range.

That score seemed to wake Clare up and Shane Meehan converted his own free, before the Cork defence repaid the favour by coughing up a goal chance that Clare capitalised on. A short kick-out was intercepted by Mark McInerney, and he slipped it through to the onrushing Meehan. He showed a cool head to square for Emmet McMahon who hammered home to the net to see Cork lead by the minimum, 1-2 to 1-1.

Clare’s tactical switches saw them settle into the contest with Micheál Murray and Daniel Walsh both moved into more advanced positions and their influence was telling.

Cork answered with the next two scores through Mark Cronin and another 45m free from Murphy, but it could have been much worse. Cork full-forward Fionn Herlihy inadvertently got in the way of a goalbound effort from Cronin, and O’Brien was on hand to hack the ball off the line.

The last two scores of the half came to Clare and they would prove big scores in the contest. McInerney landed a free before he found himself on the end of a sweeping move to slot home with his right foot to leave Clare 2-2 to 1-4 ahead at the break.

If it was like Rineen in the opening period, then it was all about Beál na Blath in the second as Cork completely dominated, and the lively Murphy got the first two scores of the half to put them back in front. The first came from a free while the second was from the new advanced mark as he gathered a long delivery before slotting over. Another free followed from Cronin, and Cork led 1-7 to 2-2 with 40 minutes on the clock.

Indiscipline in defence would continue to cost Clare with Murphy punishing on each occasion from frees, while failure to retain the majority of Clare’s own kickout allowed Cork to keep the pressure on in the final third on the field.

Clare had to wait until the 22nd minute of the second half to get on the board with Cillian Rouine teeing up McInerney for a good score, but by that stage Cork led 1-11 to 2-3. Murphy and McInerney swapped frees before a fine effort from distance by Emmet McMahon left four between the sides with two minutes to go.

Another McInerney free and an Oisín Looney effort cut the gap to two but it was not enough as Cork came through a real test.

Clare: Tom O’Brien (St Joseph’s Doora Barefield); Manus Doherty (Éire Óg), Micheál Murray (Miltown), Ciarán McMahon (Ennistymon); Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Cillian Rouine (Ennistymon), Sean Conway (Doonbeg, c); Oisín Looney (Miltown), Eoin Rouine (Ennistymon); John Murphy (Ennistymon), Emmet McMahon (Kildysart), Thomas Clancy (O’Curry’s); Diarmuid O’Donnell (Kildysart), Shane Meehan (Banner), Mark McInerney (Éire Óg).

Subs: Morgan Garry (Clondegad) for O’Donnell, Gavin D’Auria (Éire Óg) for Murray, Eoghan Thynne (Doora Barefield) for Clancy, Cian McDonough (Doora Barefield) for Conway

Scorers: Mark McInerney (1-4, 3f), Emmet McMahon (1-1), Shane Meehan (0-1, 1f), Oisín Looney (0-1).

Cork: Josh O’Keeffe (Newmarket); Colm O’Shea (Kilshannig), Daniel O’Mahony (Knocknagree), Diarmuid Phelan (Aghada); David Buckley (Newcestown), Billy Foley (Bantry Blues), Brian Lynch (Douglas); Jack Lawton (Argideen Rangers), Daniel O’Connell (Kanturk); Jack Murphy (Éire Óg), Aodhán Ó Luasa (Naomh Aban), Brian Hayes (St. Finbarr’s); Mark Cronin (Nemo Rangers), Fionn Herlihy (Dohenys), Blake Murphy (St. Vincent’s).

Scorers: Blake Murphy (0-9, 8f, 1m), Jack Murphy (1-0), Mark Cronin (0-2, 1f), Fionn Herlihy (0-1).

Ref: Brendan Griffin (Kerry).


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