Cork 1-23 Clare 0-11
All-Ireland and Allianz Football League champions Cork proved too strong for Clare in today's Munster SFC opener at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Conor Counihan's men moved 1-09 to 0-04 ahead before half-time, aided by Donncha O'Connor's punched goal in the 22nd minute. Paddy Kelly burst through the Clare defence and laid the ball off for O'Connor to finish it to the net. Gary Brennan had a late goal-scoring chance for Clare which he blasted over the crossbar. Clare's excellent corner forward Rory Donnelly kicked two points from play in the first half and finished with five in all.
Into the second half, an in-form Daniel Goulding (0-08) kept the hosts on track. David Tubridy and Alan Clohessy also got on the scoresheet for the Banner men, who had Graham Kelly sent-off in the closing minutes. Centre-back Kelly earned his second yellow card for an incident involving Cork substitute John Miskella. Worse followed when a clearly frustrated Kelly launched a headbutt at Miskella, ensuring the game ended on a sour note. The result will see Cork take on Waterford at the semi-final stage of the provincial Championship on Sunday, 5 June.
David Goold was added to the Cork attack as a replacement for late withdrawal Paul Kerrigan, but they still lined out with 11 players from last September's All-Ireland final win over Down. Clare did not take long to settle. They leaked two early points to Goulding, but a fisted effort from Brennan and Donnelly's first of the afternoon got them off the mark. But gradually the difference between the sides started to show. Cork's physicality and greater ability to create and finish scores helped them move ahead on the scoreboard. With the wind advantage, Goulding (0-03) and Ciaran Sheehan (0-02) had some neatly-struck points and O'Connor's goal put them in command at 1-06 to 0-03.
Clare struggled at times and midfielder Brennan and Donnelly were their only scorers over the opening 35 minutes. The strong work ethic of Michael McDermott's side could not be questioned though and they were unfortunate when Brennan's failed to press goalkeeper Alan Quirke into action. Cork might also have been further ahead at the interval. O'Connor hit the woodwork with a shot and Goulding did have the odd miss, and Clare were still very much in the hunt when they blasted out of the blocks in the second half. They had successive points from Clohessy, Donnelly and Tubridy, before O'Connor pointed from play and added a successful free to Cork's total.
Cork extended their lead as the half wore on with substitute Kerrigan getting in on the scoring act and full-back Michael Shields racing up from the back to land the point of the day. But it was Messrs. Goulding, O'Connor (1-04) and Sheehan (0-04) who had the biggest say as the recently-crowned Allianz Football League champions made a satisfying start to their summer campaign.
CORK: A Quirke; R Carey, M Shields (0-01), J O'Sullivan; G Canty, N O'Leary, D O'Sullivan; A O'Connor (0-01), A Walsh (0-01); C Sheehan (0-04), P Kelly, P O'Neill (0-01); D Goulding (0-08, 0-06f), D O'Connor (1-04, 0-02f), D Goold.
Subs used: P Kerrigan (0-01) for Goold (47 mins), P Kissane for Shields, F Lynch for Kelly (both 62), N Murphy for Walsh (65), J Miskella (0-01) for O'Sullivan (66).
CLARE: Joe Hayes; K Hartnett, B Duggan, L Healy; John Hayes, G Kelly, M McMahon; N Browne, G Brennan (0-02); G Kelly, D Tubridy (0-03, 0-01f), C O'Connor; A Clohessy (0-01), D O'Neill, R Donnelly (0-05).
Subs used: S Brennan for O'Connor, S McNeiles for John Hayes (both half-time), J Dowling for O'Neill (70 mins).
Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Laois)