Cork 2-14 Clare 0-7
Cork's senior footballers cruised into the semi-finals yesterday after a comprehensive dismissal of Clare at Pairc Ui Rinn.
The Leesiders opened their 2012 season with an emphatic victory thanks mainly to the endeavours of the returning Colm O'Neill in the full-forward line. O'Neill showed he is on the way to full sharpness after almost a year out with a cruciate ligament injury, netting twice and adding four points in a man-of-the-match display.
He was ably assisted up front by Seanie Cahalane and Liam Shorten. The latter took his opportunity with both hands. Cork legend Graham Canty was dominant at the heart of the Cork rearguard, helping his side to a 1-5 to 0-3 lead at the turn
O’Neill will have more game time at the same venue on Sunday in a semi-final clash against CIT. That eagerness to impress will be shared by the bunch of new faces that populated the Cork line-up yesterday. In defence Kevin Harrington and Aidan O’Reilly competently dealt with the challenges they faced on the left flank.
In attack Liam Shorten swept over three tidy points in a busy display and Seanie Cahalane worked tirelessly at the edge of the square. Kevin O’Sullivan, back in the Cork line up for the first time since March 2009, and Graham Canty, back for the first time in a non championship setting since April 2010, were prominent figures during the second-half . The audition process continues in six days’ time.
This was a stress-free afternoon for Cork and the perfect opportunity to shake off winter cobwebs. The match had slipped away from Clare early on as Cork set a fast pace and when O’Neill cleverly flicked home a ball floated in by Shorten in the 26th minute, Clare were staring at a 1-5 to 0-1 deficit.
Three Banner points either side of the interval threatened to make a game of it but Cork pressed on the accelerator and took control. The fact that they outscored Clare by 1-5 to 0-1 in the closing 20 minutes neatly summarised the gulf between the two sides and leading lights like Michael Shields and Paul Kerrigan enjoyed a run out during late cameos from the bench.
For opponents Clare, defeat will see them take stock ahead of their opening league game on February 5. They foraged away in the second-half but the loss of their blue-chip attacker David Tubridy, who posted 0-7 the previous Sunday against UL, through injury hit them hard. Yet the sight of Gary Brennan arcing over three beautiful second-half points was heartening.
"The most important ambition we have is the win the first game of the league against Waterford," admitted Clare boss Micheal McDermott.
"The opposition was at a different level but the most disappointing thing today was we made too many mistakes. There were very few positives to take from the game but it’s the month of January and, hopefully, we’ll learn a lot from this."
Scorers for Cork: C O’Neill 2-4 (0-2f, 0-1 ‘45), L Shorten 0-3, F Lynch 0-2, C O’Driscoll, S Cahalane, K O’Sullivan, P O’Neill, A O’Connor 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: G Brennan 0-3, M O’Shea 0-2 (0-2f), D Russell, G Quinlan 0-1 each.
CORK: K O’Halloran; E Cotter, R Carey, K Harrington; C O’Driscoll, G Canty, A O’Reilly; J Fitzpatrick, A O’Connor; F Lynch, F Goold, L Shorten; C O’Neill, S Cahalane, K O’Sullivan.
Subs: P O’Neill for Fitzpatrick (38), S Kiely for Goold (51), P Kerrigan for O’Sullivan (55), M Ó Laoire for Lynch (55), M Shields for O’Connor (57).
CLARE: J Hayes; D Hickey, S McNelis, M McMahon; D Blake, G Kelly, S Tierney; G Quinlan, D Russell; D Daly, R Donnelly, A Clohessy; M O’Shea, G Brennan, E Troy.
Subs: P Collins for Blake (19), D Murphy for Daly (29), T Ryan for Troy (half-time), S O’Driscoll for Brennan (55), D O’Neill for Quinlan (56).
Referee: Maurice Condon (Waterford)