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SHC Final Replay – Liam McCarthy Awaits As Cork And Clare Battle Again

Cork v Clare  - Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Semi-Final

The greatest hurling championship in living memory reaches its conclusion this Saturday at 5pm as Cork and Clare meet again for the honour of taking home Liam McCarthy. After 72 minutes and 30 seconds three weeks ago nothing could separate these sides after a pulsating tie. The Hurling community has the pleasure of another instalment of seventy plus minutes of high octane excitement filled Hurling. This is the second year in a row the final has gone to a replay after sixty odd years of none, the debates of should it have gone to extra-time and the timing of the replay rumble on but that is an entirely different argument best left for another day. For now we concentrate on tomorrow’s mouth-watering replay and where it will be won or lost.

To be honest replays are often so hard to predict and commonly end in a blowout victory for one of the two sides as was the case with Kilkenny and Galway last year. I don’t see that being the case this year though. Where on one hand I don’t see Cork being as poor again, I also can see Clare tightening up on the inside line of defence in preventing goals and I feel they will get one for themselves this time around. A goal is all they needed last time out. If Clare can match their performance of last time it should be enough to see them home. Freshness and hunger won’t be an issue for either team and Clare management will want a performance better than that of the last day no doubt about that. In the meantime nine of their panel has gone away and comfortably won an All-Ireland Under 21 title also, another confidence boost to an already emerging young confident bunch. Clare know they can win and enter the tie with the relief of getting that late late equaliser three weeks ago. If they are to win second-time round their forwards simply have to fire at least one 3-pointer and in particular Darach Honan at full-forward needs to make an impact. If Colin Ryan can continue his accuracy on frees and Podge Collins and Tony Kelly continue their breath-taking form (they seem tailor-made for Croke Park and big occasions) ably assisted by McGrath and Conlon, Clare will get the goals needed for them to win this. Expect big games again from Conor Ryan (outstanding last time out), Brendan Bugler and David McInerney and if the Clare forwards can turn it on they will be the ones climbing the steps of the Hogan Stand.

Cork on the other hand are Cork and are never low on self-belief, everybody in this county believes they can win it. Everyone in the county backs manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy and everyone in the county believes they can never play as bad as they did the first day out. Oh tradition in hurling is sometimes over-looked harshly and this Cork team isn’t going to be beaten easily. Belief is vital to any success and I feel this is where Cork hold their ace. They now know they can score goals if needed and have a weapon in a 21-yard free that will send shivers up all of Clare. For the game and atmosphere I hope Cork get a 21-yard free early in the game. Step forward or more accurately jog forward Anthony Nash. This episode would be worth the admin money alone and weather the sliotar creases the back of the net or is blocked away either would represent such a massive momentum swing, possible enough to win the game. My gut feeling is once again Nash will be pivotal in this game whichever end it comes at.

Cork will want more authority in midfield if they are to succeed; they were well beaten in this department last time out. Midfield is such a vital cog to both teams’ wheels and Kearney and McLoughlin will simply need to perform better. They will back Brian Murphy to keep tabs on Tony Kelly and aim a lot of ball out of defence in front of Pat Horgan in attack. Horgan will believe that he has the ability to win every ball hit properly in his direction and few would bet against him. If he can gain primary possession then O’Farrell and Lehane will look to run off him and cause havoc. Cork will be better this time out I have no doubt about that, the wise old fox JBM has been around too long for them not to be. In fact the more I think about it the more I believe Cork will prevail tomorrow. Am I now starting to believe like every man , woman and dog in Cork that they will do it,  is the belief contagious or is it tradition that is speaking to me again? Either way it’s a great time to be from both of these counties at present and come tomorrow night one will be dancing at the crossroads whether it is the crossroads in Cloyne or those in Newmarket-on-Fergus the neutral is in-store for another epic affair. Don’t mind your Premiership tomorrow the sporting highlight is in Croke Park at 5pm. The world should tune in but for those who do, enjoy.

What price on another draw after seventy minutes?!

Image courtesy of GAA.ie

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    • Eilis ni riada
    • October 21st, 2013

    Cliche iontach ar fad.

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