O'Donovan heroics rescue draw for Clare in thrilling All-Ireland
Cork 3-16 Clare 0-25
It went to the last puck, fitting for an extraordinary day and an incredible match. With the game deep in injury time, Clare corner back Domhnall O’Donovan tore up the left wing and scored a majestic leveller.
On the run of play it was well merited. For long spells Clare held the upper hand but Cork kept themselves alive with goals, scoring three in the second half.
This will go down as one of the classic All-Ireland finals, an endlessly flowing and high-scoring thriller, which Cork looked to have pinched near the end. After Pa Cronin scored their third goal in the 63rd minute they drew level, having trailed by four points only two minutes earlier after a point from the inspirational Conor Ryan.
Colin Ryan put Clare back in front after the Cronin goal but Patrick Horgan levelled and then scored what looked the winner from play in injury time. It was the only time they had led over the entire match. But O’Donovan produced a final heroic intervention to send the final to a replay for the second successive year, September 28 the selected date.
Clare, in a surprise move, abandoned their sweeper system and went man to man, with Conor Ryan moving to left half back and having an outstanding match. Clare had the better of the first half, their half back dominating and limiting Cork’s scoring to the flawless free-taking of Horgan. Cork’s leading forward finished the first half with a monster score from play but his six from place balls were critical in keeping Cork afloat. One of those was a gift after the referee overlooked a slash on a Clare defender moments before.
There was also controversy when the umpires failed to report Shane O’Neill for a red card offence, instead booking both O’Neill and his man, Darach Honan. Both teams had a goal chance, Honan’s ground stroke well saved by Anthony Nash, while at the other end Daniel Kearney was denied by an excellent stop by Patrick Kelly. From a free in the follow-up, Nash’s piledriver from the 20m line was blocked by a well advanced Kelly.
But Clare had most of the play and should have gone in more ahead, instead having to settle for a 0-12 to 0-10 interval advantage. Ryan started left half back on Seamus Harnedy and dominated, forcing switches in the Cork half forward line. For most of the half Cork had only one score from play, an early Harnedy point, and a solitary wide, from a Nash free.
Clare missed a few chances within range but they had a good spread of scorers, with all of the forwards registering by the interval, five of them from play. Colin Ryan’s free taking was as impeccable as Horgan’s; he scored five, a 100 per cent return. Though playing second fiddle Cork improved near the interval and showed signs of better things to come.
The tempo never relented after the break. Clare were four ahead when Conor Lehane soloed through for a goal and they suffered another set-back in the 57th minute when Nash bulleted to the net from a 20m free. A penalty from Nash three minutes later was stopped by a Clare defender but Cronin’s goal appeared to have turned the tide Cork’s way.
Horgan finished with ten points, two from play, while Ryan outscored him with 0-12, one from play. So much for a tentative tactical game – Croke Park has seen few better. The replay has a hard act to follow.
Dermot Crowe in Croke Park
Scorers: Clare - C Ryan 0-12 (0-11 fs); T Kelly 0-3; P Collins 0-3; C McGrath 0-2; J Conlon 0-2; D Honan, Conor Ryan, D O’Donovan 0-1. Cork – P Horgan 0-10 (0-8 fs); C Lehane 1-1; A Nash 1-0 (f); P Cronin 1-0; D Kearney, S Harnedy 0-2, B Murphy 0-1.
Cork: A Nash; S McDonnell, S O’Neill, C O’Sullivan; C Joyce, B Murphy, W Egan; L McLoughlin, D Kearney; S Harnedy, J Coughlan, P Cronin; P Horgan, L O’Farrell, C Lehane.
Subs: S Moylan for Coughlan (half time); C McCarthy for McLoughlin (41); C Naughton for McCarthy (inj 50); T Kenny for Egan (63); S White for Kearney (66).
Clare: P Kelly; D O’Donovan, C Dillon, D McInerney; B Bugler, P O’Connor, C Ryan; C Galvin, P Donnellan; J Conlon, T Kelly, Colin Ryan; P Collins, D Honan, C McGrath.
Subs: C McInerney for Honan (61 mins); N O’Connell & F Lynch for Galvin & Conlon (64).
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).
Belfast Telegraph Digital