Lonesharkoy previews the Senior Hurling qualifier between Cork and Clare and believes the Banner County may well dish out a bit of a hiding to the Rebels.
Clare vs Cork, All Ireland SHC
On a fantastic weekend for hurling with three absolutely massive games, the pick of the bunch from a betting point of view could be the grand finale on Saturday evening, the clash between two Munster counties that warmed up for this encounter by putting Leinster opposition to the sword last weekend.
On the face of it, Cork’s win was far more impressive. Offaly floated between poor and downright dismal all year, notwithstanding their league win against Limerick, while the Rebels had to travel to Wexford Park and overcome a Wexford side that still had the memory of their glorious July last year to fire their imaginations.
Nonetheless while Cork looked sharp in the way that they blew Wexford out of the water in the early stages, Clare are a side that are likely to be a changed force on account of that win. People forget that since winning the All Ireland, Clare had only won one competitive match in nearly two full seasons. They were competitive throughout that time, but they’ll feel that a lot of pressure was lifted off their shoulders as a result of their victory over the midlanders. When we consider that they’ve been through a torrid spring featuring genuine dissention in the camp, it was quite impressive to see them pulling together and tactically destroying the Faithful County. Hurlers like Conor McGrath and Tony Kelly are almost unstoppable in current form and while Cork also looked very good, it’s easier to pick holes in their effort, most notably by looking at the phase when their scoring dried up for a quarter of the match.
Cork simply haven’t delivered when the pressure has been on in recent seasons and they might find it a lot harder to stretch Clare than Wexford, who would be a bit more traditional in their approach to where on the field is the best place to do your hurling. Clare won’t be discommoded by Cork’s willingness to stretch the field and use every inch of grass that’s at their disposal, unlike Wexford who prefer to go toe to toe in physical battles along the spine of the park.
Call it a hunch if you like, but Clare look like a side that are poised and ready to explode back onto the scene. Back them to win with a little bit to spare.