Munster intermediate hurling semi final
By Michael O Connor.
Once more, the same old story. Clare with six weeks work, emanating with six challenge games against Galway clubs, Kerry and Limerick Intermediate sides suffered a narrow championship defeat with most of the damage done by elementary errors on the field that could have been eradicated with even half a dozen training sessions. Waterford grabbed the lead, built on it with a soft goal and held on for dear lives as Clare’s second string bowed out in Thurles despite a late late probably too late cosmetic rally.
Clare started the game facing into the strong wind that was aided by consistent rain. Expectations of success could not be gauged properly as neither side had played in an opening round and preparation for same would have been limited to perhaps half a dozen games. Waterford were quick off the mark with a Nicky Jacob score after 10 seconds as Kevin Dilleen moved from midfield to full back to compensate for the loss of Stephen Kelly who cried off injured.
Sean Chaplin, the Clare team captain sent over the banners opening score from a free after three minutes. For the opening twenty minutes Clare could not engineer as much as one chance for a score of any type as Waterford begin to stretch clear with a succession of point. Luckily for Clare the decies could not manage a goal in this period of dominance. Jamie Kearney, Danny Murphy, Mark O Gorman, Chris O Gorman, John Hurney, Jamie Kearney and Chris O Gorman hit seven unanswered points between the 5th and 21st minute. Tighter marking by Clare and an improved workrate by the forwards led by Padraig Hickey who hit two points in as many minutes narrowed the deficit to five points.
With a minute remaining in the first half Mark O Gorman pointed Waterford’s final score of the first half. Clare, however had the final say with a well taken free by Sean Chaplin to leave Waterford (0-9) to (0-4) clear at the break. Now with the wind aiding Clare they needed at least one goal to be in contention and that goal was required early in the new half. However as is often the case Clare suffered early and when Cathal Chaplin was robbed in front of the goal with the ball doubled to the net for the first score of the second half. In the final analysis this score was the turning point of the game as it created too much of a gap for a score shy Clare forward line. Michael O Gorman stretched the Waterford lead to nine points after 37 minutes as Clare looked at the abyss of a heavy defeat.
Amazingly this was as good as it got for Waterford as they struggled for the remaining 20 minutes adding just three points that in the end proved the difference between two average sides. The Clare side hit an alarming amount of wides from impossible angles between the 40th and 50thminutes. This feat was replicated late on by the decies. Sean Chaplin who struggled at times with the physical nature of the Waterford defence pointed a 39th minute free. Hickey hit two wides before Clare’s best forward Martin Duggan struck over two great scores in a minute and when Pat O Connor scored in the 45th minute the deficit was narrowed to a manageable five points (1-10)to (0-8) with Clare now performing to a more acceptable level. Padraig Hickey who received a leg injury was replaced by Damian Kennedy who went into full forward.
One major malaise with the Clare forwards was the fact that many were one sided and got caught in scorable position. Sean Chaplin with a great score from play after being set up by Patrick Kelly left four points between the sides in the 47th minute. He missed a scorable free soon after that was a set back as Clare were in the ascendancy. Nodlaig O Murchadha and Duggan swopped scores. Mistakes by Marty O Regan and pat O Connor allowed Mark O Gorman in for two scores to round off the Waterford scoring after 53 minutes. The remaining ten minutes was all Clare as Waterford fought a rearguard action but never really looked like conceding a goal.
Pat O Connor sent over a huge long range free and incessant pressure by Clare resulted in Waterford fouls on two occasions that were punished by Chaplin. Damian Kennedy and Thomas Donovan had late half chances to win but Waterford with John O Leary, Paul Murray, the magnificent John Hurney at left half back, Danny Murphy, Mark O Gorman from frees and Stephen O Keeffe on top it was a decies day. Clare who had only four scorers on the day had strong displays from Kevin Dilleen, Ciaran O Doherty, Patrick Kelly after a shaky start, Sean Chaplin from frees, Patrick O Connor in patches, Martin Duggan and Padraig Hickey.
WATERFORD: Stephen O Keeffe, Shane Kearney, John O Leary, John Coffey, Seamus Hannon, Paul Murray, John Hurney(0-1),Danny Murphy(0-1), Nollaig O Murchadha (0-1), Keith Lander, Michael O Gorman, Jamie Kearney (0-2), Mark O Gorman (0-5), Nicky Jacob (1-1), Chris O Gorman (0-2). subs: Brian Phelan for Landers, JJ Hutchinson for J Kearney, Alan Lawlor for M O Gorman,
CLARE; Ger O Connell, Marty O Regan, Kevin Dilleen, Ciaran O Doherty, Pat Kelly, Michael Hawes, Darragh Shannon, Patrick O Connor (0-2), Cathal Chaplin, Sean Chaplin (0-6), Thomas O Donovan, Joe O Connor, Martin Duggan (0-3), Alan Brigdale, Padraig Hickey (0-2). Subs: Mark O Donnell for Alan Brigdale, Danny Russell for O Connor, Damian Kennedy for Hickey (inj),Mark Earley for Shannon, Francis O Grady for O Regan.
Referee: Noel Cosgrove (Tipperary).