Champions Clara performed well enough, but for defeated Carrickshock it was another miserable hurling day in Nowlan Park.
The defenders of the Walsh Cup won through to the county senior hurling final and a clash with Ballyhale Shamrocks on Sunday week, but for poor Carrickshock this was another abject failure on another big day.
“We never got going,” was the cold yet honest summary from Carrickshock manager, Maurice Power.
Struggling for form
“We have been struggling all year to get any kind of form, even in the last few games. We were hoping it would come in a big game, but it didn’t.
“We were well out-classed. We have no excuses.”
Clara were leaders form start to finish. When they led by 1-10 to 0-4 at half time after playing with the wind the difference in class between the sides was very obvious, and it was going to take something huge for the ’Shock to get back.
The losers put in a bit of a burst after the break, but it didn’t last long. They faded fast and they were well beaten before the finish.
“Our No. 1 objective was to get back into the final and we are there now,” said pleased Clara manager, Mick Purcell. “The Shamrocks and ourselves both set out our stall to win the final this year, and now we are there.
“I didn’t feel comfortable until about a minute from the end. They could have scored a goal. You never know what might happen. The final is a 50/50 game.
“Our players are developing well after being in and out of the senior championship over the years and winning it last season.
“The final will take a lot of winning.”
For sure, Clara will receive a more searching examination than they did on Sunday. The opposition here collapsed. Losing against the same opposition in the final 12 months ago might have inspired many a team, but not Carrickshock, who were flat generally and totally lacking in ideas or cohesion up front.
Five scores from play during the hour, and one from their best player, John Dalton at full-back, told some of the story.
The greater part of the tale was Carrickshock’s failure to rise to the occasion. Sure, they were without former All Star, Michael Rice, but one quality player wouldn’t have made all that difference on such a down day.
They were doing well enough up to the 25th minute when they were a mere 0-4 to 0-7 behind. Into ‘lost time’ at the end of the half they conceded 1-2 and that knocked the stuffing, and fight, out of them
What about Clara? Actually, they can play better. They ran up 15 wides, eight during the opening half. And they played without the inspiring Conor Phelan, who underwent heart surgery on Friday. He is wished a speedy return to full health.
Yet again Clara proved that their players have the knack of pulling something interesting out of the hat. Conor O’Shea, who was picked at corner-back but played at No. 10 in place of Phelan underlined the point by helping himself to three fine scores from play. Good squads always manage things like that.
Clara, playing into the country end, opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Lester Ryan hit the target after being put in space by a hand-pass from Neal Prendergast. A foul on the same Ryan earned Keith Hogan a minor before Conor O’Shea landed their third score.
The strong opening didn’t continue. After Carrickshock opened their account with a free from Richie Power they hung in, partly due to Clara’s poor shooting. When Michael Rohan popped over their fourth point in the 25th minute (0-7 to 0-4) you would think that for all their troubles they might do something.
Game blew up
However, from there to the break, which came in the 63rd minute, the game blew up on them. When a defender over carried the ball in the 29th minute Keith Hogan was gifted a point. Chris Bolger then skipped up the right wing before shooting between the O’Loughlin’s end posts.
A wild pull across Keith Hogan earned him a free and point as the second minute of injury time dawned. And nearly a minute further on Chris Bolger worked his way round two defenders on the right before crossing for James Nolan to finish with a low shot to the net.
Half time: Clara 1-10; Carrickshock 0-4.
That late blast won and lost the game. In the early seconds of the new half Carrickshock centre-back, John Tennyson found himself deep in attack and got in a strike on goal.
The shot was soft. The save was made. Apart from a 34th minute block on Richie Power when within sight of goal, there was little or no additional threat from the losers.
Kevin Farrell shot the first score of the new half for the losers and Richie Power (free) and Jamie Power added to it (1-11 to 0-7). The losers remained lethargic, however. During the closing 19 minutes they scored once more.
Clara roared on, inspired by their action man at midfield, Lester Ryan; also David Langton, Conor O’Shea, Keith Hogan and zippy winger, Liam Ryan.
They won knowing they can do better!
SCORERS: Clara - Keith Hogan (0-6, four frees); James Nolan (1-1); Conor O’Shea, Liam Ryan (0-3 each); Jack Langton (0-2); David Langton, Lester Ryan, Chris Bolger, Austin Murphy (0-1 each). Carrickshock - Richie Power (0-3, frees); John Dalton, Jamie Power, Darragh Brennan, Kevin Farrell, Michael Rohan (0-1 each).
Clara - Killian Phelan, Dermot Nolan, Sean O’Shea, Shane Prendergast, Neal Prendergast, Tom Ryan, David Langton, Lester Ryan, Jack Langton, Conor O’Shea, Keith Hogan, Liam Ryan, Chris Bolger, Austin Murphy, James Nolan. Subs - Ciaran Prendergast for Murphy 55th min; David Prendergast for J. Nolan 61st min; John Murphy for K. Hogan 62nd min.
Carrickshock - John Butler, John Murphy, John Dalton, David Franks, Darren O’Dwyer, John Tennyson, Pat Tennyson, John Cahill, Paddy Mulcahy, Jamie Power, John Power, Darragh Brennan, Kevin Farrell, Richie Power, Michael Rohan. Subs - Shane Power for Mulcahy ht; Brian Donovan for D. Brennan 43rd min; James Grace for D. O’Dwyer 51st min; Richie Frisby for P. Tennyson 51st min.
Referee - Eamon Mansfield (Cloneen).