Cork: S. Mellet; D. O’Donovan (C. O’Sullivan); D. Cahalane; A. Cronin; J. Cronin (B. O’Driscoll); T. Clancy; J. Wall (1-0); R. O’Sullivan (E. Healy); R. Deane (D. Nation); K. Hallisey (0-1); M. Sugrue (1-1); J. O’Rourke (0-5); B. Hurley (0-4; D. Drake 0-1); D. McEoin (0-1); L. Connolly (1-2; 0-1f).
Clare: W. De Loughrey; E. Ralph; E. Malone; M. O’Connor (C. O’Brien); S. Malone (0-1); S. Collins; S. Tierney; K. O’Connor; C. Ryan (M. O’Shea); D. O’Neill (1-1); P. Collins (P. Dillon 0-1); M. Malone (S. O’Driscoll 0-1); E. Finucane (R. Linnane); C. McInerney (0-2); S. Brennan.
Cork dismantled a over-matched Clare side to set up a Munster final against Kerry in Tralee. Despite racing into a small lead with a early O’Neill goal Clare were being dominated throughout the pitch after twenty minutes and at half-time, despite Cork only being seven points up, the game was essentially over as Cork’s midfield and half-forward line were completely dominant. Worryingly for Cork star forward Donal Og Hodnett didn’t start the game and captain Rory O’Sullivan went off injured, his right leg heavily braced, mid way through the first half.
For Clare, there were very few bright spots. In the opening twenty minutes they tried hard with O’Neill on the edge of the square towering over Cahalane and scoring a decent goal. Elsewhere center-forward Collins sprayed a couple of nice passes the few times he got possession while Cathal McInerney was very lively on the ball – he was also largely starved of possession for most of the game. In the second half Clare were poor throughout the pitch, although half-back Malone drove forward well a couple of times and subs O’Driscoll and Malone kicked a couple of nice points. In reality though they were cleaned out in the breaks in middle of the pitch, never getting control of the likes of O’Rourke and Wall while the entire teams conditioning was far inferior to their opponents.
For Cork, its hard to really judge how good the team is considering the poverty of the opposition’s play. We did struggle a little in the full-back line at times, O’Neill’s goal – a aimless high ball tapped in and completely uncontested by Cahalane and Mellet – and the sometimes lax marking of McInerney and Brennan suggested our inside backs are maybe not the strongest. We do have some players that excel at winning ball on the ground – Wall in particular won countless breaks and drove forward in his typically cavalier way, while O’Rourke at half-forward was (again) really eye-catching, classy on the ball and well able to pick out a pass. Both look the most obvious future Cork seniors, presuming Counihan moves on and lads below six foot are allowed play inter-county football for us again. Further up the pitch, Connolly looked awkward at times but his finishing was generally good and his work ethic was exemplary, while Hurley and Hallissey showed flashes of their undoubted talent. Finally, Deane completely dominated in the middle of the pitch. Our forwards clearly have real class, with more to come from the likes of McEoin, Drake and hopefully Hodnett. Still, considering the game was only really competitive for the opening twenty minutes, its difficult if not impossible to say how good this Cork side really is.