Clare finish strong to see off Cork and claim first McGrath Cup title in 11 years

Clare 1-9
Cork 0-9

Derrick Lynch reports from Miltown Malbay

CLARE CLINCHED THE 2019 McGrath Cup title with a three point win over Cork at a windswept Hennessey Memorial Park in Miltown Malbay this afternoon.

Gordon Kelly’s 8th minute goal proved the difference between the sides after the veteran found the net from distance in the 8th minute as his shot from 35 metres out deceived Cork goalkeeper Chris Kelly and nestled in the top right corner.

It came after Cian Kiely had opened the scoring for the visitors to west Clare, landing a fine score with the outside of the left boot from the left wing after four minutes.

Both sides struggled with the conditions as a heavy mist descended, and when Cathal O’Connor pointed a free from 45 metres out, it left Clare 1-1 to 0-1 in front with 12 minutes on the clock. Cork dominated possession for the next 10 minutes of the game and were rewarded with two Stephen Sherlock frees to leave just a point between them with the half-time whistle looming.

Clare were playing with the breeze at their backs but guilty of some poor shooting in that opening period with a number of efforts dropping short into Kelly’s arms.

Cathal O’Connor struck another fine free from distance after a foul on Clare captain Gary Brennan and the Clondegad man was on the scoresheet himself just moments later to land Clare’s first point from play, and ensured they headed for the dressing room 1-3 to 0- 3 in front.

Brennan opened the second-half scoring with a curling effort from the right wing and Keelan Sexton was on target with a free from distance to leave Clare 1-5 to 0-3 in front.

Cork’s Liam O’Donovan in action against Clare’s Aaron Fitzgerald.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Rebels responded with the next five scores as Damien Gore and Mark Collins landed one each from play and one each from frees before Eoghan McSweeney levelled the sides with a good score from play after 50 minutes.

Cork then lost midfielder James Fitzpatrick to the sin-bin after picking up a black card, and it was compounded moments later when Sexton landed another fine long range point against the breeze to give Clare back the lead.

Peter Kelleher levelled the sides once more as the game entered the closing ten minutes, but it was Clare who finished strongest with Sexton angling over the lead point before notching up his fourth moments later from a long range free to put the Banner in the driving seat. Dean Ryan rounded off the scoring late on as he was played through by Gary Brennan to fist over the bar and give Clare their 13th McGrath Cup title and a first since 2008.

Cork boss Ronan McCarthy with Clare manager Colm Collins.

Scorers for Clare: Keelan Sexton 0-4 (0-3f), Gordon Kelly 1-0, Gary Brennan, Cathal O’Connor (0-2f) 0-2 each, Dean Ryan 0-1.

Scorers for Cork: Mark Collins 0-3 (0-2f), Stephen Sherlock (0-2f), Damien Gore (0-1f) 0-2 each, Eoghan McSweeney, Peter Kelleher 0-1 each.


1. Eamonn Tubridy (Doonbeg)

2. Kevin Harnett (Meelick)
3. Cillian Brennan (Clondegad)
21. Gordon Kelly (St Joseph’s Miltown)

6. Dean Ryan (Éire Óg)
20. Aaron Fitzgerald (Éire Óg)
17. Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis)

8. Darragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels)
9. Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen)

10. Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora)
11. David O’Halloran (Éire Óg)
12. Dermot Coughlan (Kilmurry-Ibrickane)

13. Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg)
14. Gary Brennan (Clondegad – captain)
15. Kieran Malone (St Joseph’s Miltown)


23. Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Cooney (HT)
24. Sean O’Donoghue (Cooraclare) for O’Halloran (HT)
22. Gearoid O’Brien (Kilrush Shamrocks) for Malone (46)
18. Sean Collins (Cratloe) for Coughlan (55)
26. David Tubridy (Doonbeg) for Bohannan (55)


1. Chris Kelly (Éire Óg)

2. Sam Ryan (St Finbarrs)
3. Peter Murphy (Bandon)
4. Aidan Browne (Newmarket)

5. Liam O’Donovan (Clonakilty)
6. Tom Clancy (Clonakilty)
7. Steven Cronin (Nemo Rangers – captain)

8. James Fitzpatrick (Carbery Rangers)
9. Ronan O’Toole (Éire Óg)

10. John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers)
11. Eoghan McSweeney (Knocknagree)
12. Cian Kiely (Ballincollig)

13. Mark Collins (Castlehaven)
14. Peter Kelleher (Kilmichael)
15. Stephen Sherlock (St Finbarrs)


25. Damien Gore (Kilmacbea) for Sherlock (41)
18. Nathan Walsh (Douglas) for Ryan (50)
17. Kevin O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers) for O’Rourke (50)
26. Blake Murphy (Vincents) for Cronin (63)
20. Tadgh Corkery (Cill na Martra) for Kiely (60)

Referee: Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry)

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