Conor Foley of Wexford pursues Clare’s Tony Kelly during their quarterfinal game at Semple Stadium. [Inpho/Laszlo Geczo]

Clare, Cork ease their way into hurling semifinals

Clare 2-28; Wexford 1-19

Clare seldom had to leave third gear to motor past this poor Wexford challenge, who lost their best player Rory O’Connor late in the first half, were never going to win this encounter at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday afternoon.

Manager Keith Rossiter will be heartened that a lot of his younger players such as defender Conor Foley showed up well on the day but truth is this was a game between men and boys as Wexford haven’t the physicality to go toe to toe with the top teams judging on this performance.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

They can hide behind the 12-point defeat by pointing to the red card incident and while they had fought back from seven points down to be level when referee Johnny Murphy sanctioned the player with a second yellow for a pull down on his opponent David Reidy, it spelt the beginning of the end. 

As the Banner boys were playing so much within themselves and were operating at the time with 14 themselves as David McInerney pull down led to a time banishment and a penalty which Lee Chin expertly dispatched, this was as good as it got for Wexford. Following Foley’s equalizing point after the Slaneysiders’ only green flag, it was a case of regression by the Model men from there to the end.

If Clare wanted a soft game to tune up for the tilt at Kilkenny the weekend after next, then their wish was granted as Wexford allowed them time and space and were unable to match them physically. That said, Clare missed a host of easy points chances, arguably due to the fact that they had too much time to decide what to do.

Clare: E Quilligan; C Leen (0-1), C Cleary, A Hogan; D McInerney, J Conlon, D Ryan (0-2); C Malone, T Kelly (0-6, 0-1f); D Fitzgerald (0-2), D Reidy (0-3), P Duggan; M Rodgers (0-6f), S O’Donnell (1-4), A Shanagher (0-1f) Subs: I Galvin (1-1) for Duggan (45), P Crotty for Fitzgerald (56), C Galvin for Conlon (58), S Meehan (0-1) for Shanagher (60), A McCarthy (0-1’65) for Rodgers (66)

Wexford: M Fanning (0-1f); M O’Hanlon, E Ryan, S Reck; C Foley (0-3, 0-1s-l), D Reck, S Donohue; C Hearne, L Óg McGovern; R Lawlor, C McGuckin, R O’Connor (0-2); C McDonald (0-1), L Chin (1-6, 1-0 pen, 0-5f), Cian Byrne (0-2) Subs: C Dunbar (0-1) for McGovern (44), K Foley (0-2) for McGuckin (46), C Byrne Dunbar for Byrne (55), D Carley for Lawlor (67), S Casey (0-1) for McDonald (68)

Ref: J Murphy (Limerick).

Patrick Horgan’s 10 points against Dublin put him at 699 career points for Cork, a record he shares with Kilkenny’s T.J. Reid. [Inpho/Ryan Byrne]

Cork 0-26; Dublin 0-21

Cork huffed and puffed a little near the end but really they were never in danger against a limited Dublin side at Semple Stadium on Saturday.

They didn’t score a goal and they were again reliant on Patrick Horgan whose 0-10 put him equal with Kilkenny’s TJ Reid as all-time top scorers with each a point shy of 700 registered to their accounts.

Dublin were terrible against Kilkenny in the Leinster final and showed up much better in this encounter without ever realistically challenging the Rebels for a semi-final clash with Limerick the weekend after next.

Cork manager Ryan outlined the mixed emotions from the performance and outcome.

"We're delighted that we did enough to win but obviously that performance won't be troubling Kilkenny or Limerick in an All-Ireland semi-final," he said.

"But at the same time we're very proud of our lads and the way they performed today.

"In fairness to Dublin, I thought they brought a huge intensity to it, they play a good running game and we left a couple of opportunities behind us in that first half that probably would have opened the game up for us, but look, delighted with the win."

Cork were able to welcome back Robbie O'Flynn who helped himself to two points after entering the fray with ten minutes to go.

"Robbie's been going great. He played with his club last week to get a bit of form and a bit of game-time," said Ryan.

"It's hard for the lads there that there aren't matches coming in but we know the type of player Robbie is.

"He's had a tough time with injuries but he's mentally very strong and ready to go, so he'll be in contention for two weeks' time."

Both sides seemed content to go for points until late in the game Dublin needed a goal and sub Ronan Hayes almost obliged while Declan Dalton was denied by a smashing save from Sean Brennan in the Dublin goal.

A bit like Wexford, Dublin are a team in hurling’s no-man’s land - they are too strong for the second-tier teams and not good enough to compete properly and consistently with the elite sides such as Limerick, Kilkenny, Clare and the like.

Cork: P Collins; N O’Leary, S O’Donoghue, E Downey; T O’Mahony, C Joyce, M Coleman; L Meade (0-1), D Fitzgibbon (0-2); D Dalton (0-6, 0-3f), S Barrett (0-2), S Harnedy (0-2); P Horgan (0-10, 0-7f), A Connolly, B Hayes (0-1)Subs: S Kingston for Harnedy (49), T O’Connell for Meade (49), G Millerick for Fitzgibbon (59), R O’Flynn (0-02) for Hayes (61), C Lehane for Connolly (68).

Dublin: S Brennan; P Smyth, E O’Donnell, J Bellew; C Crummey (0-3), C Donohoe, D Gray; C Burke (0-4), M Grogan; B Hayes (0-2), D Burke (0-3, 0-1f), D Power (0-1); D Sutcliffe, S Currie (0-7, 0-4f), P Crummey Subs: R Hayes for P Crummey (44-70+4, temporary), P Doyle for Gray (48), D Ó Dúlaing for Grogan (54), J Madden for Donohoe (59), F Whiteley for B Hayes (64).

Ref: M Kennedy (Tipperary).