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Fitting Finale To Great Championship As Clare Topple Cork In Thriller

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Clare 5-16 Cork 3-16

The most exciting championship in living memory deserved a fitting final and by god did we get it. The drawn game three weeks had everything or so we taught. What was served up to us on Saturday evening was a credit to both Clare and Cork and surpassed the hopes of the neutral who had feared an also-ran replay. Those fears were quickly diminished as late replacement and soon-to-be poster boy of Clare, Shane O Donnell scored a hat trick of goals inside the first twenty minutes. Add to this a 20 metre free from Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash that he blasted past 12 Clare players on the line which was in itself box office viewing. Clare had stretched to an eight point lead with half time fast approaching but a determined Cork importantly managed to claw into that lead before the break leaving just three points in it at the interval.

The second half began as the first finished, fast, frantic and highly intense. Cork came back in the second half with a few hammer blows and drew it level, Clare at that stage responded like a team of 27- or 28-year-olds with four All-Ireland medals in their back pocket, who knew how not to panic and knew how to close the deal. Yet that came from a bunch of young and relatively inexperienced hurlers. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

All Ireland Final Preview : 3 Key Battles

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Ahead of this weekend’s All Ireland Final  (full preview available here) , Danny Morrissey looks at three key areas in which the success of Dublin or Mayo will hinge on.

1.       Midfield

The midfield contest is somewhere I’m sure James Horan and selectors of Mayo will have looked at and will be hoping to dominate if they are to be successful come Sunday. Aidan and Seamus O’Shea in my opinion shade the Cavanagh brothers as the best midfield pairing in the country and are a large part of the Mayo success train. The Dubs will match these guys up with Michael Darragh MacAuley and one from Cian O’Sullivan or David Bastick. This part of the field is where I feel Mayo hold the real edge. No disrespect to the Dublin trio but this is possibly Dublin’s weak area with Meath earlier in the year more than matching up and dominating for periods in the middle. Kerry with an average midfield nearly had enough last time out too with the Dublin midfield at no point this year dominating this section of the field. Mayo will try and pressurise Stephen Cluxton in goal to avoid any short kick-outs and go long where the O Shea’s will want it up in the sky. Yes MacAuley is a good fetcher of the football and the others hard workers but if the O’Shea brothers keep up their fabulous form to date they will dominate here which might enhance Ciaran Kilkenny , the Dublin fulcrum of attack at 11 , back into the middle to help out thus reducing their attacking threat.

Either way I’m sure Mayo will have looked at the way Meath approached and had success in the early part of their game against Dublin and hope to emulate that. For Jim Gavin and Dublin they will hope their midfield pairing will rise to the occasion and put in their best performance to-date, something that will be required and more to nullify the threat the O’Shea brothers will bring come Sunday. Whatever way it unfolds the outcome of Sam will very much hinge on the dominance here. Continue reading

SHC Final: Clare And Cork Must Do It All Again

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Clare 0-25 Cork 3-16

Last Sunday I witnessed what was possibly the most dramatic and exciting game of hurling I have seen in my near thirty years on this planet. Given the occasion and what was at stake the drama that unfolded was truly box office, heart-stopping for a neutral , I can only imagine what it was like for the proud Cork and Clare natives.

On Sunday , Clare and Cork played out a draw inside a packed Croke Park and must now do it all again on September 28th at 5pm. Queue the rush for tickets.

In a high-octane encounter following on from what we have experienced from the championship already this year, Cork who had been second best all afternoon grabbed a point from lead marksman and talisman Patrick Horgan right on the 70 minute mark to put them ahead by a point and with two minutes of injury time signalled the robbery of the century was on the cards. Fans from Cork roared and cameras were on Jimmy Barry Murphy as Cork won a sideline ball way up the field. They cut it wide and the referee gave Clare one last chance with time up. Step forward corner-back Domhnall O’Donovan. He gambled, made his way up field and collected a pass under the Cusack Stand from Nicky O’Connell. Defying the corner-back label he shot straight over the bar, his first ever championship point amid madness and emotion in Croker. Game over , both sides must do it all again. Continue reading

Munster Rivals Draw Swords In Battle For Hurling Success

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After a summer of drama, entertainment, controversy and joyous hurling we reach the pinnacle of the hurling calendar this weekend with tickets for Sunday’s battle as rare as hen’s teeth.

Few would have predicted it at the start of the year and those who did well there just liars or fortune tellers. Cork and Clare do battle this Sunday at half past three in Croke Park for the honour and privilege of being crowned All-Ireland champions and bringing home the Holy Grail that is the Liam McCarthy cup. Both teams have come this far via the back door / qualifier system but none to argue their worth of a place in Sunday’s showpiece after both teams displayed scintillating performances in their semi-final victories to advance. Continue reading

Hurling : Clare Revive Spirit Of ’95 To Reach All-Ireland Final

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Clare 1-22 Limerick 0-18

Clare deservedly booked an All-Ireland final place alongside Cork after comprehensively disposing of neighbours Limerick on Sunday afternoon.

In truth Limerick never got going as some of their players simply didn’t show up and Clare ruthlessly took advantage.

The game was delayed fifteen minutes due to the minor game which Galway won after extra time.  Right from the throw in Clare looked sharp and switched on much in contrast to Limerick who just couldn’t settle, not helped by the wayward early free-taking of Declan Hannon. Its hard not to feel for Hannon , just a young man at 20, left with the responsibility of placed balls , a responsibility he just couldn’t handle on the day as he missed some vital straight forward frees early on. This not only took the wind out of Limerick but also gave Clare a boost with every wide. Fifteen minutes into the game a long ball delivered into the edge of the square by captain Pat Donnellan caused havoc with full forward Darach Honan eventually prodding the ball home with his foot. This put Clare five points up and from here they never really looked back. Limerick fought back with the loss of Seamus Hickey through injury a blow in the first half to their revival but it was their lack of accuracy in front of goal and waste of possession coming out of defence that ultimately cost them with Clare picking off their opponents with supreme accuracy and efficiency when in possession. Continue reading

Hurling : Munster Rivals Fight For Final Berth

Hurling-GAAThis Sunday in Croke Park sees the second of the All-Ireland semi-finals taking place as both Limerick and Clare will travel up in large numbers dreaming of victory and a shot at Cork in September.

Fierce rivals and a familiarity of each other are just two of the ingredients that add to this Sunday’s encounter which has the credentials to match the blockbuster we had last weekend. These teams have met in the championship five times over the past fifteen years with Clare edging the win count 3-2. This Sunday , much the same as last week is hard to call and very much the toss of a coin again. It could take another refereeing decision to tip the scales either way, we hope not but what we are guaranteed of is seventy minutes of intense physical hurling with energy levels matching that shown by both Cork and Dublin last Sunday. Continue reading