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Shane O'Donnell of Clare scores a point during their Munster SHC Round Robin, Round 3 game at Thurles. Photograph by John Kelly

HURLING: Unbeaten Banner quash the Rebel-ion

Munster Senior Hurling Championship Round 3
Clare 0-28 Cork 2-20

Clare’s 2021 revenge tour soared to new heights in FBD Semple Stadium on Sunday afternoon when producing another stirring championship display to hold off Cork on their way to protecting their perfect start, writes Eoin Brennan.
Having been edged out by Tipperary and Cork to exit both the Munster and All-Ireland Championships respectively last year, the Banner lowered both decisively in the space of seven days to effectively secure a place in the All-Ireland series at a minimum.
What was most impressive was Clare’s ability to demonstrate every facet of their character when first blitzing the Rebels to soar eleven points clear by the 28th minute before having to show their teeth when reduced to 14 men for the final 20 minutes to keep a resurgent Cork at arm’s length.
There were so many heroes that it was difficult to single any out but the mastery of captain Tony Kelly, the inspirational defending of Rory Hayes, John Conlon and Diarmuid Ryan allied to the relentless work-rate of Ryan Taylor and Shane O’Donnell combined for a heady cocktail that the Rebels found too potent to imbibe.
Three goals had floored Tipperary before their could start but this time, the Banner were pitch perfect in their point-taking as well as ravenous to attack Cork’s puck-outs as the attacking triumvirate of Kelly (0-5), Duggan (3) and O’Donnell (2) combined to boost their side to a 0-15 to 0-4 cushion nearing the half hour mark.
To their credit, a befuddled Cork did manage to pick themselves up off the canvas for the remainder of the half with seven of the last nine points, three from Patrick Horgan, to lessen the damage to six by the break at 0-17 to 0-11. However, Eibhear Qulligan ensured that the damage wasn’t worse after excellently tipping away a Horgan shot with almost the last puck.
Half-time couldn’t come soon enough to Clare to regroup and re-arm as they returned to reinforce their lead through David Fitzgerald and Ian Galvin within two minutes of the throw-in.
The Banner would sustain that margin until Cork struck for their opening goal, arguably against the run of play, when substitute Alan Connolly used his strength to flick to the net from close range at 0-22 to 1-14 by the 47th minute.
The alarm bells were ringing loudly as Cork further reduced the deficit to four followed by a straight red card for Ian Galvin for an off-the-ball incident at the 50 minute mark.
Clare’s response would be decisive as they dug deep to hit the next three points in inspirational fashion through David Fitzgerald, Diarmuid Ryan and Ryan Taylor by the turn of the final quarter at 0-25 to 1-15.
Goals chances at either end for Peter Duggan and Patrick Horgan would both be repelled as Clare carried a six point lead into five minutes of additional time. The numbers would be evened up when Cork substitute Mark Keane was dismissed for lashing out on John Conlon but there was still plenty of nails bitten by Clare supporters after Darragh Fitzgibbon fired a 75th minute goal to slash the arrears to just two.
Clare did deservedly survive for their second Thurles victory in a week and now have a fortnight to prepare for back-to-back mouth-watering home challenges against All-Ireland champions Limerick and National League winners Waterford to decide their provincial fate.

Clare: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle); Paul Flanagan (Ballyea), Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones); Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), John Conlon (Clonlara), David McInerney (Tulla); Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge), Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin); David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona), Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg), Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin); Tony Kelly (Ballyea), Robin Mounsey (Ruan), Ian Galvin (Clonlara)
Subs: Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones) for Mounsey (57), Domhnall McMahon (Michael Cusack’s) for Duggan (69)

Scorers: Tony Kelly (0-10, 4f, 2’65); Peter Duggan, David Fitzgerald, Ryan Taylor (0-3 each); Shane O’Donnell, Cathal Malone, Ian Galvin (0-2 each); Robin Mounsey, David McInerney, Diarmuid Ryan (0-1 each)

Cork: Patrick Collins (Ballinhassig); Niall O’Leary (Castlelyons), Robert Downey (Glen Rovers), Sean O’Donoghue (Inniscarra); Tom O’Mahony (Newtownshandrum), Ciaran Joyce (Castlemartyr), Mark Coleman (Blarney); Ger Millerick (Fr. O’Neill’s), Shane Barrett (Blarney); Robbie O’Flynn (Erin’s Own), Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville), Seamus Harnedy (St Its’s); Shane Kingston (Douglas), Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers), Jack O’Connor (Sarsfields)
Subs: Alan Connolly (Blackrock0 for O’Connor (26), Conor Lehane (Midleton) for Barrett (HT), Conor Cahalane (St Finbarr’s) for Harnedy (56), Tommy O’Connell (Midleton) for Millerick (59, inj), Mark Keane (Ballygiblin) for Kingston (62)

Scorers: Patrick Horgan (0-10, 7f); Alan Connolly (1-1); Robbie O’Flynn (0-3); Darragh Fitzgibbon (1-0); Shane Kingston, Seamus Harnedy (0-2 each) Tim O’Mahony, Conor Lehane (0-1 each)

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)

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