Munster SHC final: Rebels reign again by beating Banner

09 July 2017

Clare's Colm Galvin and Darragh Fitzgibbon of Cork

Patrick Horgan and Alan Cadogan hit 1-17 between them as Cork outscored Clare by 1-25 to 1-20 in the Munster hurling final at Thurles.

Rated no-hopers by many at the start of the season, the Rebels are now provincial champions for the 52nd time, having done it that hard way, defeating Tipperary, Waterford and Clare along the way.

Having led by five at the break, the victors kept their opponents at arm’s length over the course of an exciting second half, finishing strongly with a run of 0-3 in injury time to take the spoils, with young wing back Mark Coleman epitomising their spirit and endeavour.

With 45,558 in attendance at today’s provincial decider, the winners were clearly the better team as they collected the silverware and advanced to an All-Ireland semi-final date at Croke Park next month, while Clare’s Cathal Malone twice stuck the crossbar going for goal and the Banner also chalked up 15 wides and pointed a penalty as they perhaps unfortunately slipped to defeat and an All-Ireland quarter-final clash with either Waterford or Tipp later this month. While Cork impressed, Clare can point out that they were still just two points behind at the end of the 70 regulation minutes even though very little was going their way.

Having played into the wind, the winners led by 1-10 to 0-8 at the end of a disappointing first half, with the superb Cadogan firing their goal in the twelfth minute before Tony Kelly blazed a Clare penalty over the bar eight minutes later. Cadogan delivered 1-2 for the Rebels before the break, while Horgan slotted four points to pass out the legendary Christy Ring in Cork’s list of all-time leading championship scorers (as well as avoiding a possible red card).

The Banner had won the toss and opted to play into the strong breeze before the break but they were left reeling when Kelly spurned the opportunity to fire them in front for the first time from that penalty before Cork reeled off five unanswered points to take control of proceedings.

Cadogan got the Rebels up and running inside 20 seconds and Seamus Harnedy replied to a Kelly strike, Clare corner back Seadna Morey tied the scores up for the second time in the seventh minute. Horgan demonstrated terrific strength, perseverance and skill to restore the Leesiders’ lead and Podge Collins equalised on eleven minutes after Malone had lucklessly kicked a goal effort off the underside of the crossbar.

At the other end, in the twelfth minute, Cadogan cut in from the left and dispatched a precise low bouncing shot past Andrew Fahy to make it double scores. But the Banner bounced back with a brace of Kelly points – one from play – to leave the minimum between them halfway through the first half, 1-3 to 0-5.

Not for the last time today, Anthony Nash celebrated wildly in the 20th minute as Kelly smashed his penalty over the Cork crossbar to tie the scores up for the fourth time after Shane O’Donnell was fouled by Damien Cahalane; Horgan was lucky to stay on the pitch following a high and dangerous elbow to Patrick O'Connor’s head; an exquisite Conor Lehane point from distance edged the Rebels back in front and Darragh Fitzsimons made it 1-5 to 0-6 after 24 minutes.

Horgan (free) supplied the winners’ third consecutive point and a brilliant flowing move from one end of the pitch to the other culminated in a foul on Fitzgibbon and a Horgan point – 1-7 to 0-6.

Cadogan’s point was cancelled out by a beautiful Kelly free from distance and John Conlon traded injury-time points with Horgan (free) before the latter closed the first-half scoring from another free as Kieran Kingston’s men led by five at the short whistle.

Aron Shanagher notched the first point of the second half after Nash denied Conor McGrath and full back David McInerney cancelled out a Horgan free only for Shane Kingston to preserve the Rebel County’s five-point lead with five second-half minutes elapsed.

Kelly and Horgan swapped frees and the latter replied to a Colm Galvin effort as the gap remained at five with 46 minutes played. Clare needed scores badly to make inroads into the deficit but had amassed 13 wides with as many minutes played in the second half, their shoot-on-sight approach doing their inside forward line no favours.

At the other end, Horgan (his eighth) clipped over another free following a foul on the menacing Cadogan to make it a six-point affair with 20 minutes left. Striking from the left wing, Luke Meade made it 1-16 to 0-12 approaching the three-quarters stage; Kelly nonchalantly replied to keep the Banner in touch with their first score in nine minutes.

And the game exploded to life in the 55th minute when McGrath didn’t need to be asked twice, belting an unstoppable low drive to the bottom left corner of the Cork net to reduce the margin to just three points – Game On! When Kelly made it a two-point match, Cadogan replied with a truly terrific Cork score. Incredibly, in the 57th minute, the luckless Malone drilled another shot off the crossbar – his second time to strike the woodwork going for goal!

It was a four-point swing in Cork’s favour when Horgan pounced at the other end to make it 1-18 to 1-14 but Conlon replied with a tremendous strike with little over eleven minutes left. Horgan’s tenth came from a free on the hour and Harnedy was on hand to push the Rebel lead back out to five before substitute Aaron Cunningham replied with his first touch.

Coleman chipped over an astonishing sideline cut from the Old Stand side to restore the five-point gap with seven minutes left. Substitute Jason McCarthy replied but teenage wing back Coleman whipped over a terrific point on the run on 65 minutes as the Rebels continued to hold their five-point cushion coming into the home straight.

Clare kept coming and Kelly stroked over a free with four minutes of normal time left before smacking over a 68th-minute free (his tenth of the day) as the margin was reduced to three. McGrath thumped over a nice point on 69 minutes as the Banner eased ominously closer and the nerves started to jangle.

However, Cahalane’s inspirational lung-bursting run out of defence created the opening for Horgan, who steadied the Rebels with a timely strike at the start of injury time; Cadogan calmly dropped over the insurance point on 72 minutes; deep into added time, Horgan nailed another free to confirm victory for the magnificent Rebels.

Cork - A Nash; C Spillane, D Cahalane, S McDonnell; C Joyce, M Ellis, M Coleman (0-2, 1sl); B Cooper, D Fitzgibbon (0-1); L Meade (0-1), C Lehane (0-1), S Kingston (0-1); A Cadogan (1-4), P Horgan (0-13, 10f), S Harnedy (0-2). Subs: D Kearney for S Kingston, L O’Farrell for D Fitzgibbon, M Cahalane for L Meade.

Clare - A Fahy; P O’Connor, D McInerney (0-1), O O’Brien; S Morey (0-1), C Cleary, D Fitzgerald; C Galvin (0-1), T Kelly (0-10, 6f, 1pen); C Malone, P Collins (0-1), J Conlon (0-2); A Shanagher (0-1), S O’Donnell, C McGrath (1-1). Subs: J McCarthy (0-1) for O O’Brien, D Reidy for P Collins, C Dillon for P O’Connor, A Cunningham (0-1) for A Shanagher, P Duggan for C Malone.

Referee - F Horgan.