It was a good start to 2016 for Clare GAA senior teams as both the hurlers and footballers were victorious in their opening games on Sunday, the hurlers beating Cork by a goal while the footballers overcame Tipperary by the minimum margin in the McGrath cup.
The goals proved vital in each game. Shane O’Donnell, introduced midway through the second half, struck for the hurler’s goal seven minutes from time and this was the difference at the final whistle as Clare scored their first win over Cork since they defeated the Leesiders in the All-Ireland final replay in 2013.
On that occasion O’Donnell caused huge problems for the Leesiders, scoring a hat trick of goals
The footballer’s goal came two minutes from the final whistle and was scored by debutant, Kieran Malone on his home pitch in Miltown. He was put through by substitute David Tubridy whose introduction, together with that of Gary Brennan, helped Clare recover from a half time deficit of five points to win on a final scoreline of 1-10 to 1-9. They will play Kerry in round 2 on Sunday in Killarney and a win here will be enough to see them through to the final of a competition they didn’t play in for the past two years in protest as the Provincial council’s decision to change the seeding system for the Munster championship.
Almost 1,500 people turned up in Sixmilebridge for the opening tie in the Provincial senior hurling league. The involvement of former All-Ireland winning Cork goalkeeper Donal Og Cusack as part of the Clare backroom team, added to the interest in this tie.
Clare led by two points at half time, 0-8 to 0-6, having played with the aid of the wind. They stretched the lead to five early in the second half but Cork fought back and went a point ahead early in the final quarter but O’Donnell’s goal proved decisive in earning Clare a merited win on a final scoreline of 1-14 to 0-14
The Banner side have a bye this weekend and will return to action in round 3 on Wednesday January 13 when they will entertain Kerry at Sixmilebridge.
By Seamus Hayes