Cork 2-21 Clare 0-18
Two first-half goals from Luke O’Farrell ultimately proved the difference as Cork booked their place in the Waterford Crystal Cup final with a win over Clare in Mallow, 2-21 to 0-18.
In what was a repeat of the 2013 All-Ireland final, this time a replay wouldn’t be necessary as Cork, with only five survivors from that decider, were clear winners from a long way out, holding a 12-point half-time advantage.
Clare had seven All-Ireland winners in their line-up but a lacklustre first half allied to some wayward shooting, with as many wides as scores, told its own tale as they attempted in vain to reel in last year’s Munster champions.
After an even opening, Cork dominated the remainder of the first half, with two goals from full-forward O’Farrell only emphasising that vast superiority and sharpness on the scoreboard.
The first arrived in the 12th minute when Clare failed to clear their lines and the impressive Andy Walsh handpassed across the square for the waiting O’Farrell to finish.
That goal finally put daylight between the sides at 1-03 to 0-03 and in truth, it was the perfect boost that the hosts never looked back from as they outscored the Banner by 1-10 to 0-04 by the break, led by midfielder Walsh and Cian McCarthy who were among eight first-half scorers for the Rebels.
Clare had ample chances themselves but passed up two glorious goal opportunities as well as tallying nine first-half wides.
Patrick Donnellan was denied on both occasions as first goalkeeper Patrick Collins pulled off a superb close range save, while the Clare captain's touch let him down for a second potential comeback goal.
Those misses would be magnified when O'Farrell raided for his second goal just before the break, as the full-forward got the vital touch to a Darren McCarthy delivery to give clinical Cork a 2-13 to 0-07 half-time lead.
The only way was up for Clare and to their credit, there was a significant improvement in all aspects of their play on the restart.
Teenager Bobby Duggan led the charge with four points as they eventually whittled the deficit down to six by the end of the third quarter. However, without a goal, their hopes of a full recovery would ultimately fall on stony ground.
Instead, Cork dug deep to ensure that this was as close as the visitors would get, as they emptied their bench to good effect with replacements Paul Haughney, Dayne Lee, Alan Frahill O'Connor and chief marksman O'Farrell all pointing.
It was enough to quell the Banner rebellion that included the positive introduction of John Conlon at full-forward as Cork advanced to their first Waterford Crystal Cup final in four years.
Cork: P Collins; C O’Sullivan, D Cahalane, S O’Donoghue; B O’Sullivan (0-01), L McLoughlin, G O’Connor; B Murray (0-01), A Walsh (0-02); P Kelleher (0-01), C McCarthy (0-07, 0-03f, 0-02’65), B Lawton; S Moylan (0-02), L O’Farrell (2-03), D McCarthy (0-01)
Subs: P Haughney (0-01) for Murray (43), D Lee (0-01) for Kelleher (47), M Ellis for O'Connor (54), A Frahill O'Connor (0-01) for Lawton (58), W Kearney for O'Donoghue (62)
Clare: P Kelly; D O'Donovan, C Duggan, S Morey; C Cleary, Conor Ryan, G O'Connell; B Bugler (0-03), Colin Ryan (0-03, 0-01f); P Donnellan (0-02), B Duggan (0-04), S Golden (0-01); D O’Halloran, A Cunningham, C O’Connell (0-04, 0-03f)
Subs: C Dillon for Conor Ryan (47), P Flanagan for G O'Connell (48), J Conlon for O'Halloran (50), D Keane (0-01) for Donnellan (52)