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Hurling – Cork & Clare Progress As Cats Run Out Of Lives

Is It The End Of An Era?

Is It The End Of An Era?

Cork 0-19 Kilkenny 0-14 

Cork ended Kilkenny’s reign as All-Ireland champions in Thurles on Sunday as the cats finally ran out of lives and for the first time in seventeen years failed to make the semi-final of the championship. Cork march on to play Dublin while Kilkenny now have plenty to ponder, as they will no doubt attempt to bounce back next year. The big moment of the game came shortly before half time when Kilkenny superstar and talisman Henry Shefflin was sent off for a second bookable offence. Both cautions were soft but unarguable under the rulebook.

In total contrast to their previous game Cork were now the beneficiaries of a dismissal and used the extra man to great effect to record this famous win. Credit goes to Shefflin who although evidently gutted took the decision like the champion he is and exited with pride. Will this be his last appearance in a Kilkenny shirt? Age is not in his favour with injuries now common but the hunger will no doubt be still there. We will await the decision. Back to the game, which was even up to the sending off, Cork were edging affairs with them displaying fierce hunger and commitment taking some lovely scores up front with Patrick Horgan showing excellently. In the second half Cork kept their nerve and with it Kilkenny at bay. They used the extra man intelligently and kept the scoreboard ticking over. Daniel Kearney had an excellent game in midfield as the linkman with Horgan deadly accurate up front. In defence, Shane O Neill and Tom Kenny showed their guile and experience to lead from the front and All-Star keeper Anthony Nash produced a wonderful double save from a Richie Power penalty and follow up from Tommy Walsh. That was crucial and effectively killed the game off. Cork exposed the flaws that have been evident in Kilkenny’s game all year and credit must go to Jimmy Barry-Murphy for identifying this and taking advantage. Cork will now believe they can go all the way and claim probably their must surprising All-Ireland in their history. As for Kilkenny, this day had to come eventually and in truth the writing had been on the wall all year so Sunday doesn’t come as a massive surprise. Injury to key man Michael Fennelly hasn’t helped their cause and he didn’t look match fit yesterday. There is a lot of mileage on the clock amongst a number of their stars such as Shefflin, Larkin, Walsh, Delaney, Tyrell and Hogan and they will need to make a decision now weather they can keep going. Cody will remain at the helm and want these warriors to remain by his side. Weather they can commit to the level required remains to be seen. Kilkenny and Cody will be back to right the wrongs next year and we will either see a gigantic effort to wrestle back the title or sadly for them the end of an era and finish of one of the greatest teams of all-time. 

Clare 1-23 Galway 2-14 

In the second game in Thurles on Sunday , Clare ended Galway’s interest in this year’s championship thanks to an accomplished display showing maturity beyond their years in the second half to keep Galway at bay and pull away , winning comfortably in the end. Galway started the brighter but once Clare settled and started dominating the game , there only ever looked like one winner. Podge Collins was excellent in his free roaming role and was ably assisted in attack by Conor McGrath, John Conlon and Tony Kelly. In midfield Colin Ryan was outstanding , his work-rate and free taking flawless. The defence as it has done all year worked well as a unit with their only two errors costing them goals in the second half, something Davy Fitzgerald will look to correct moving forward. The win now sets Clare up for a titanic derby clash with Limerick, which they will enter with nothing to lose and relish. They are building up nice momentum and could punish Limerick in the open space of Croke Park with their fitness and excellent movement. Galway fans will be scratching their heads again, as their team did not show up in truth and have looked off the pace all year not getting near the standard of last year. They didn’t seem up for the fight on Sunday and lacked direction and an evident game plan. Management rang six changes prior, which indicates an unsettled team and the players must take most of the slack here as they did not appear to turn up and just couldn’t match Clare. I have a lot of friends in Galway and would love to see them climb the steps but I feel as a hurling county they suffer from snobbish attitude believing they are on a par with the Kilkenny’s, Tipperary’s and Cork’s of this world. In truth they are not and have not achieved since 1988, where as Offaly, Wexford, Limerick and Clare have done so in the interim. They need to change their approach to reflect this and build a mentality to put an end to the unwanted tag of the nearly county. They have six months now to reflect.

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