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NFL Division Two South: Cork scrape past Clare

By Matthew Hurley

Clare 1-18 - 0-22 Cork

Cork beat Munster Rivals Clare in a tense Division 2 South Clash this afternoon, but the Rebels still face into a relegation play off against Westmeath because of Kildare’s big win over Laois.

Despite Ronan McCarthy’s men finishing on an impressive 4 points, they will not be competing in Division 1 for the 6th consecutive year. When you consider they are one of the 4 most recent All-Ireland Champions, that’s a staggering statistic.

6 minutes in and Cork raced into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead before David Tubridy was dragged down by full back Daniel O’Mahony and Tipperary Referee Derek O’Mahony had no choice but to award a spot kick. The full back may have felt lucky to receive ‘only’ a yellow card, as it looked a certain goalscoring opportunity. Tubridy dispatched the penalty past Michael Martin and Clare kicked into gear.

They scored 1-4 to Cork’s 0-1 from minute 7 to the first water break, an impressive return for Colm Collins’ men but worrying for the Rebels.

Young prospect Cathal O’Mahony came on during that water break and scored seconds into his arrival. The youngster ended the day with 0-5, an inspiring sub for the Rebels. McCarthy’s side were the ones in form going into half time, scoring 0-7 between the 2 breaks.

The second half was a cagey affair, with both sides swapping point for point. An interesting statistic showed that the hosts seemed to be hanging in there as a result of the visitors constant fouling. Between Cleary and Tubridy, Clare recorded 1-9 from placed balls, compared to Cork’s 0-4. Added to that Cork conceded 24 frees, while their opponents gave away only 14.

Cork needed a goal badly, knowing Kildare were hammering Laois at O’Moore Park, but the Rebels hopes were somewhat dashed after substitute Brian Hurley was sent off for a second bookable offence. The Castlehaven man looked lively upon his introduction, scoring 2 points, but the Rebels fouling in this game came back to bite them.

In truth, the visitors’ didn’t create any clear goal scoring chance in the entire game, which was very surprising considering they needed to win by 4 to guarantee a promotion play off.

Alas, it wasn’t to be, as both sides ended up quite disappointed after an enthralling game. While Cork’s promotion hopes are completely gone, Clare will now have to play Mayo after doing so well in their previous 2 games.

They would’ve hoped to face Meath before today, but it’s the All-Ireland Finalists, a team who look determined to return with the top dogs after just 1 season away.

The Rebels meanwhile have to come toe to toe with Westmeath, who lost to Down today. It’s a game they didn’t want to be in at the start of the year, but here we are.

Fermanagh for example ended with less points than Cork but are still playing in a promotion play off. That just sums up Cork football in the last 6 years.

Clare: S Ryan; C Russell, C Brennan, K Hartnett; C O’Dea, S Collins, D Walsh; D O’Neill (0-1), C O’Connor (0-1); P Lillis (0-1), E Cleary (0-4,3f), D Bohannon (0-1); G Cooney (0-1), D Tubridy (1-8,1p,6f), J McGann.

Subs: D Ryan for Hartnett ’22 mins, C O’hAinifein for D Ryan ‘HT, E McMahon for Walsh ’53 mins, A Griffin (0-1) for Cooney ’58 mins, K Sexton for McGann ’58 mins, C Murray for O’Neill ’67 mins.

Cork: M Martin; S Powter, D O’Mahony, K Flahive; T Corkery (0-2), S Meehan, M Taylor (0-1); I Maguire (0-1), P Walsh (0-1); S White (0-1), R Deane, K O’Driscoll (0-1); J O’Rourke (0-4), C Sheehan, L Connolly (0-4,3f).

Subs: C Kiely for O’Mahony ’11 mins, C O’Mahony (0-5,1’45) for Sheehan ’22 mins, B Hurley (0-2) for White ’43 mins, M Collins for Walsh ’43 mins, P Ring for Corkery ’51 mins, K O’Donovan for Powter ’51 mins, D Gore for Connolly ’66 mins.

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