Munster Under 21 Hurling Championship Final
Clare 1-28 Cork 1-13
at Cusack Park, Ennis
Clare turned on the style on home soil to maintain their grip in Munster and claim a third successive Under 21 title this evening.
It was another special piece of history for this golden generation of Banner hurlers, a lot of whom secured their fifth successive provincial medal (two minor, three Under 21) with a typically polished display.
Backed by a perfect 14 match record at underage level in Munster since 2010, Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor side’s experience proved decisive in smashing the Banner County’s 82 year hoodoo against Cork in Munster deciders. 11 previous attempts had fallen on stoney ground but this Clare side bear no such scars and supplied the final piece of their underage jigsaw in what was their their first competitive outing against the Rebels.
With the wind at their backs, they thrilled the home support with four early points by the sixth minute, with Aaron Cunningham scoring one and also seeing an effort on goal excellently repelled by goalkeeper Patrick Collins for a ’65 that Bobby Duggan converted.
It was to be the first of nine first half points for Clarecastle teenager Duggan, four of which came from play in an excellent display. Those settling scores were boosted by a 21st minute goal for crowd favourite Shane O’Donnell after a flowing move involving five Banner players as the home side eased to a 14 point advantage, with Duggan ensuring that Cork’s mini-revival led by Rob O’Shea had a minimal impact by the break at 1-15 to 0-05.
Cork were better in the new half, with wind advantage building confidence only to be matched by the growing influence of Tony Kelly and chief targetman Aaron Cunningham.
After moving 14 clear, Clare did inevitably ease off the gas and it allowed the visitors to gain a foothold in the tie as an Alan Cadogan effort was kept out by a brilliant reaction save from goalkeeper Keith Hogan before Rob O’Shea’s ’65 was eventually scrambled over the line by Anthony Spillane at 1-20 to 1-09.
Clare bizarrely withdrew top scorer Bobby Duggan as Cork gathered pace but the hosts can be thankful to the leadership of All-Stars Kelly and Colm Galvin as well as Aaron Cunningham who ensured that the Rebel Alliance was neutralised.
And as Cork eventually dropped their heads, Clare finished with six of the last eight points to complete their historic feat.
Clare: Keith Hogan (Clooney-Quin); Jarlath Colleran (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge), Jack Browne (Ballyea); Gearoid O’Connell (Ballyea), Conor Cleary (Kilmaley), Jamie Shanahan (Sixmilebridge); Colm Galvin (Clonlara) (0-3), Eoin Enright (Kilmaley); Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin) (0-2), Tony Kelly (Ballyea) (Captain) (0-3 1’65), Bobby Duggan (Clarecastle) (0-10 5f, 1’65); David Reidy (Éire Óg) (0-3), Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones) (0-4), Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg) (1-0) Subs: Shane Gleeson (Cratloe) (0-2) for B. Duggan (42 mins), Cathal O’Connell (Clonlara) (0-1f) for O’Donnell (54 mins), Alan O’Neill (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield) for Cleary (56 mins), Shane McGrath (Feakle) for Enright (57 mins), Brian Carey (Sixmilebridge) for Colleran (59 mins)
Cork: Patrick Collins (Ballinhassig); Stephen Murphy (Blackrock), Colm Barry (Castlelyons), Cian Buckley (Na Piarsaigh); Kevin Kavanagh (Carrigaline), Killian Burke (Midleton) (Captain), Darragh Brosnan (Brian Dillon’s); Cormac Walsh (Midleton), Richard Cahalane (Ballymartle); Shane O’Keeffe (Blackrock) (0-1), Colm Spillane (Castlelyons), Michael Collins (Ballinhassig) (0-3); Rob O’Shea (Carrigaline) (0-7 4f, 1’65), Anthony Spillane (Castlelyons) (1-0), Alan Cadogan (Douglas) Subs: Mark Sugrue (Bandon) (0-1) for Walsh (13 mins), Killian McIntyre (Carrigaline) (0-1) for Cahalane (HT), Mark O’Connor (Douglas) for A. Spillane (52 mins)
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)