By Jack Flynn
Clare’s demolition of Cork in a Senior Hurling match at Gaelic Park on Sunday was a little bit like observing a car wreck — you really are better off looking away, yet the urge to stop and stare is almost overpowering.
For the most part, the match was dreadful to watch, in the sense that an outright mismatch is usually only enjoyable to the fan of a winning team. Judging from the silent crowd at Gaelic Park “enjoying” the proceedings, not even the most fervent of Clare supporters could stay real interested in this one.
Still, Clare was obviously content with their easy victory.
“We’re very delighted with the result,” said Clare’s Barney Breen, who rumbled up and down the field wreaking havoc for 60 minutes. “Hopefully, we’ll get better from her on out.”
Although they were every bit as good as Cork was bad, Clare actually misfired on several more scoring chances and played far from a perfect game overall.
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Two points from Breen and one each from Niall Hayes and Kyle Quinn staked Clare to an early advantage, one they would never relinquish.
Tom Fitzgibbon’s point for Cork made the score 0-4 to 0-1. Cork would only score one more time in the first half, by which point the match was already hopelessly out of reach.
Clare scored three straight goals, two from Quinn and one from Ger Cleary, to jump out to a 3-4 to 0-1 advantage. With 45 minutes still to play, things would only get worse for Cork.
Points from Cleary, Seamus Murphy and Brian Chambers capped off a run that began with the three goals and gave Clare a 15-point lead, 3-7 to 0-1. Finally, John Mahoney got Cork’s second point of the match, but the match was already long over.
With the result already decided, there was just the small matter of playing another 40 minutes just to make things official. Clare made the most of it, continuing to rack up points as if the match was a close one.
Hayes, Murphy and Breen combined to score four more times before the halftime horn mercifully sounded. The score was 3-11 to 0-2 in favor of Clare.
Conventional hurling wisdom states that the team who scores 20 points in the first half and gives up only two is the team most likely to win. However, Clare, perhaps not completely comfortable with an 18-point cushion, continued to pile up the points.
Breen, Quinn and Clare substitute Joe Egan all scored to lead off the second half, before Small Chuck O’Connor scored Cork’s third point to make the score an almost absurd 3-14 to 0-3.
The crowd, previously comatose to this point, let out with a rather large cheer after O’Connor’s point. Whether it was done sarcastically or legitimately is still open for debate.
Hayes, Quinn, Brendan McNamara and John Kennedy picked up late points for Clare and Mahoney scored once more for Cork to account for the final tally.
Clare scorers: Quinn 2-3, Cleary 1-1, Breen 0-5, Hayes 0-4, Murphy 0-2, Chambers, Egan, Kennedy and McNamara 0-1.
Cork: Mahoney 0-2, Fitzgibbon and O’Connor 0-1.