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Clare's Conor Cleary gets to the ball ahead of Cork’s Shane Kingston. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

HURLING: Last gasp save denies never-say-die Banner in All-Ireland Championship Qualifier

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Round 2 Qualifier
Cork 3-19 Clare 1-23

CLARE were agonisingly denied a dramatic reprieve at the death as a relieved Cork finally held out to inch into the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Quarter-Finals in the LIT Gaelic Grounds this afternoon, reports Eoin Brennan.
Despite timely suckerpunches at the end of the first two quarters, a Tony Kelly inspired Clare not only made a full recovery on both occasion but actually managed to edge ahead for the first time in over 40 minutes through the overlapping Diarmuid Ryan in the 57th minute at 0-21 to 2-14.
However, Clare simply couldn’t sustain that momentum as their fourth match in five weeks appeared to be catching up with them when Cork’s sprightly bench raided for 1-2 including a devastating goal through Shane Barrett in the 66th minute on their way to a six point advantage.
Game over surely? Not with Tony Kelly leading the side as the 2020 All-Star first caught a Cathal Malone delivery to earn and finish an injury-time penalty before being set up by Aidan McCarthy for one final sighting on goal, only for goalkeeper Patrick Collins to be equal to the powerful effort.
It’s a testament to Clare’s relentless sprit and work-rate that despite a succession of set-backs, they were able to bounce back off the ropes each time. Indeed, the sides would be level on eight occasions as late as the 63rd minute but 18 Clare wides over the 70 minutes certainly told in the end.
Cork’s goal hungry threat was clear from the start as Conor Cleary had to stop an early Patrick Horgan attempt with his legs before the pacy Jack O’Connor made the breakthrough just before the first water break at 1-5 to 0-6. Eibhear Quilligan prevented the Sarsfields poacher from grabbing a second soon afterwards from the other side but despite staying in touch, mainly through Tony Kelly, Clare’s luck ran out in the 35th minute when Shane Kingston split open the defence to raid for a second goal at 2-09 to 0-11.
Again the Banner would eventually make a full recovery but it had to take an inspirational six point salvo from Kelly to get his side back on track as they turned a three point deficit into a minimum lead entering the final ten minutes with a four point unanswered haul through Kelly (2), Shane Golden and Ryan.
The water-thin margins of this championship would be highlighted once more when substitute Gary Cooney was blocked at Robert Downey before play moved down to the other end where Seamus Harnedy played in replacement Barrett for an emphatic finish at 3-19 to 0-22 in the 66th minute.
True to form, Clare never dropped their heads and after a Rory Hayes point and the jolt of Kelly’s injury-time penalty to take his total to 1-12, only two points separated the sides as the match entered the 74th minute.
However, while Clare produced one final chance for talisman Kelly, goalkeeper Collins would be the one to snatch the hero status with a crucial stop to edge his Cork side into the last six.

Cork: Patrick Collins (Ballinhassig); Ger Millerick (Fr. O’Neill’s), Sean O’Donoghue (Inniscarra), Robert Downey (Glen Rovers); Mark Coleman (Blarney), Niall O’Leary (Castlelyons), Tim O’Mahony (Newtownshandrum); Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville), Luke Meade (Newcestown); Robbie O’Flynn (Erin’s Own), Shane Kingston (Douglas), Seamus Harnedy (St. Ita’s); Jack O’Connor (Sarsfields), Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers), Alan Cadogan (Douglas),
Subs: Shane Barrett (Blarney) for Cadogan (HT), Conor Cahalane (St Finbarr’s) for O’Flynn (57), Alan Connolly (Blackrock) for Kingston (59), Tadhg Deasy (Blackrock) for Harnedy (70), Bill Cooper (Youghal) for Fitzgibbon (71)

Patrick Horgan (0-10, 4f, 3’65); Shane Kingston, Shane Barrett (1-1 each); Jack O’Connor (1-0); Darragh Fitzgibbon, Seamus Harnedy (0-2 each); Robbie O’Flynn, Luke Meade, Alan Connolly (0-1 each)

Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle); Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones), Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), Paul Flanagan (Ballyea); Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), John Conlon (Clonlara) (Captain), David McInerney (Tulla); Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin), Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge); David Reidy (Éire Óg), Tony Kelly (Ballyea), Colm Galvin (Clonlara); Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones), Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona), Ian Galvin (Clonlara)
Subs: Mark Rodgers (Scariff) for I. Galvin (27), Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge) (0-1) for Rodgers (51), Jack Browne (Ballyea) for C. Galvin (56), Gary Cooney (O’Callaghan’s Mills) for Shanagher (64)

Scorers: Tony Kelly (1-12, 1-0 Pen, 8f); Cathal Malone, Aidan McCarthy (0-2 each); Ian Galvin, David McInerney, Colm Galvin, Rory Hayes, Shane Golden, Diarmuid Ryan, Ryan Taylor (0-1 each)

John Keenan (Wicklow)

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