Clare defeated Cork on a 0-31 to 2-23 scoreline after extra-time in a dramatic Allianz National Hurling League Division 1A relegation play-off at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
The result saw Davy Fitzgerald’s Banner County preserved their top-flight status and condemned Cork to Division 1B hurling in 2014.
In front of 5,204 spectators, the sides were deadlocked at the end of 70 minutes – 0-23 to 2-17 – as Luke O’Farrell and Pa Cronin bagged second-half goals for Cork.
O’Farrell netted in the 53rd minute but Clare, who were five points down, rallied strongly and edged head in the 66th minute through Colin Ryan.
Cronin looked to have won it two minutes from time with a second goal for the Rebels but late points Tony Kelly and Ryan (free) forced extra-time.
During the game, Clare registered a massive tally of 24 wides.
The hit and miss nature of their shooting was summed up by one of their best players on the day – Colin Ryan.
The Newmarket-on-Fergus man, named at midfield but operating mainly in the half-forward line, shot 0-10 but he also hit eight wides.
Clare racked up 31 points from 59 scoring opportunities.
A goal never came, but Clare went close in extra-time as Peter Duggan forced a fine save from Anthony Nash.
This was a desperately disappointing setback for the Rebels – who have lost three times against Clare this season, twice in the National League and in a Waterford Crystal Cup tie.
And Clare showed remarkable character to force extra-time as they trailed by two points with time running out.
Pa Cronin scored Cork’s second goal in the 68th minute and the Rebels led by 2-17 to 0-21.
But late scores from Tony Kelly, who bagged six points in total, and Ryan took the game into extra-time as the sides finished deadlocked at 0-23 to 2-17.
Cork had led by 0-11 to 0-07 at the end of a lacklustre first half and Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side played with the aid of a strong wind from the start.
After Paudie O’Sullivan was foiled by Patrick Kelly’s fine save in the 51st minute, Cork bagged the game’s opening goal two minutes later, when Luke O’Farrell netted at the second attempt.
That score took the wind out of Clare’s sails after Fitzgerald’s charges had fought back to within two points, 0-14 to 0-16.
But they stuck at it and a run of five unanswered points from the 61st to 66th minutes pushed them a point clear, 0-21 to 1-17.
The final quarter of the game provided rich entertainment for 5,204 spectators but the Clare fans who made the short journey were fearing the worst when Cronin caught Conor Lehane’s delivery and booted home a second goal.
But Clare had another kick in them and after drawing level again, they played the first half of extra-time with the breeze, going on to establish a 0-27 to 2-19 advantage at the turn.
In the second period of extra-time, Clare managed to keep the Rebels at arm’s length to secure a priceless win.
Cathal Naughton had a late chance to restore parity again but his rasping drive deflected over the crossbar off Brendan Bugler, one third of a rock-solid Clare half-back line. Patrick Horgan finished with a personal haul of 0-11 but still finished on the losing side.
CLARE: P Kelly (0-01f); D O’Donovan, D McInerney, S Morey; B Bugler, P Donnellan, P O’Connor; C Galvin (0-03), Conor Ryan; J Conlon (0-04), T Kelly (0-06), Colin Ryan (0-10, 6f); S O’Donnell, D Honan (0-02), P Collins (0-01).
Subs: C McGrath (0-02) for Conor Ryan (26), P Duggan for Collins (60), A O’Neill (0-01) for O’Donnell (70+1), J Clancy for Honan (80), F Lynch (0-01) for Duggan (85), S O’Donnell for Clancy (90).
CORK: A Nash; K Murphy, B Murphy, C O’Sullivan (0-01); S White, C Joyce, W Egan; L McLoughlin, D Kearney (0-01); C Lehane (0-01), P Cronin (1-03), P O’Sullivan; S Moylan (0-01), L O’Farrell (1-02), P Horgan (0-11, 6f, 1 65).
Subs: T Kenny for Kearney (53), C McCarthy (0-1) for Moylan (60), C Spillane for K Murphy (62), C Naughton (0-02) for White (67), M Walsh for McLoughlin (blood, 78), B Hartnett for P O’Sullivan (86), P O’Brien for Lehane (86).
Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath).