Munster U20 Hurling Championship Semi-Final: Cork 0-24 Clare 0-15
A dominant second half performance saw Cork advance to the Munster U20 Hurling Final at the expense of Clare after a nine point win on Wednesday evening.
A strong finish to the opening period saw Cork go in 0-12 to 0-8 ahead at the break after they fired over the last three points of the half.
It could have been even worse for the Banner heading for the dressing rooms as Evan Sheehan broke inside the cover but flashed his shot across Eamonn Foudy’s goal. Advantage was being played and Craig Hanifin knocked over the free, while impressive points from Sean Twomey and danger man Brian Turnbull finished the first-half scoring.
The game started at lightening pace with six points shared evenly between the sides in the opening five minutes.
It took just 20 seconds for Clare to open their account as Mark Rodgers lashed over from the left touchline. Cork hit back straight away through Brian Roche with a good score, but Aidan McCarthy restored Clare’s lead when he snapped up a breaking ball before neatly finishing. Hanifin and Twomey hit two in a row to edge Cork into the lead, but a tidy finish from a tight angle by Diarmuid Ryan restored parity.
As the game settled down, both sides were guilty of wasting possession with defences on top and some poor shooting on show. Clare were getting some joy from Foudy’s puck-outs which were going long, but Cork steadily dealt with the threat as the half wore on.
Turnbull was marked out as the chief scoring threat for the Rebels and he arrowed over a fine score to give them back the lead while a free from Hanifin had Cork 0-5 to 0-3 clear after the opening quarter.
McCarthy and Riain Considine combined to good effect as the Cratloe man applied the finish, but two excellent efforts from Tommy O’Connell kept the home side in the ascendency.
A brace from McCarthy cut the gap to the minimum just after the 20 minute mark as he landed a free before firing over after good work from Aidan Moriarty along the wing. Shane O’Regan responded with McCarthy and Hanifin swapping frees, and Cork led by two approaching injury time.
Diarmuid Ryan produced the score of the half as he raced back to rob possession before lashing over from behind his own 65m line. Clare did not build on this though as Cork finished the half stronger to stretch four points clear.
Clare got the gap back to two after the opening ten minutes of the second half. Cork opened the scoring through O’Connell with Killian McDermott replying. Another Hanifin free kept them at arm’s length, but a trip unanswered for the Banner brought them back into contention. The first of these was a brilliant sideline cut from Riain Considine from 45m out, while Rodgers and Moriarty added points to leave Cork just 0-14 to 0-12 ahead. Brian Turnbull knocked over his third of the night to steady the ship with Cork leading by three at the turn of the final quarter. Clare were left rueing some costly wides when O’Connell sent over his fourth from midfield to extend the Rebel’s advantage to four as they began to grow in confidence.
Further scores from Daire Connery and Turnbull moved Cork 0-18 to 0-12 ahead as the final ten minutes loomed, and it looked as if Clare would need to rattle the net to rescue the tie.
Shane O’Regan produced the score of the night when he brought the ball down from clouds before sending over a point that brought the home crowd to their feet in appreciation of what was their fifth unanswered score.
McCarthy added a free to bring the deficit back to six with as many minutes to play, and two from Diarmuid Ryan made it a four point game in injury time.
It was as close as Clare would get with Cork firing over the last five scores of the night to seal the win.
Clare: Eamonn Foudy (Inagh/Kilnamona); Keith White (Inagh/Kilnamona), Aron Moloney (Kilmaley), Peter Casey (Ballyea); Darragh Lohan (Wolfe Tones), Ross Hayes (Crusheen), Dylan McMahon (Clonlara); Aidan McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona), Killian McDermott (Clarecastle); Aidan Moriarty (Clonlara), Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), Riain Considine (Cratloe); Mark Rodgers (Scariff), Gary Cooney (O’Callaghan’s Mills, c), Breffni Horner (Crusheen).
Subs: Cathal Darcy (Kilmaley) for Lohan, Tiernan Agnew (Sixmilebridge) for Horner, Paddy Donnellan (Broadford) for Casey, Darren Cullinan (Inagh/Kilnamona) for McDermott, William Halpin (Tulla) for Moriarty.
Scorers: Aidan McCarthy (0-5, 3f), Diarmuid Ryan (0-4), Mark Rodgers (0-2), Riain Considine (0-2, 1 s/l), Killian McDermott and Aidan Moriarty (0-1 each).
Cork: Ger Collins; Conor O’Callaghan, James Keating, Eoin Roche; Ger Millerick, Sean O’Leary Hayes, Robert Downey; Tommy O’Connell, Brian Roche; Sean Twomey, Craig Hanifin, Daire Connery; Brian Turnbull, Shane O’Regan, Evan Sheehan.
Scorers: Craig Hanifin (0-5, 4f), Tommy O’Connell (0-5), Shane O’Regan (0-5) Brian Turnbull (0-4), Sean Twomey (0-3), Brian Roche and Daire Connery (0-1 each).
Referee: Kevin Jordan (Tipperary).