Clare 2-20 Waterford 1-15
Fitness was a key factor as Clare recorded a first Munster Senior Championship win in five years when overcoming Waterford at Semple Stadium in Thurles on Sunday.
Things didn’t look good at half time when Clare trailed by four points but improved form in the half-back and midfield areas after the break saw Clare take control and emerge as deserving winners to face Cork in the semi-final on June 23.
There is a lot of room for improvement ahead of the clash with the Leesiders and if Clare repeat some of the mistakes made on Sunday, it could prove very costly next time out. That said, credit must be given to the players for the manner in which they fought back when things looked to be going against them.
Showing two changes from the team named on Wednesday night, Clare lined out with a starting line-up as revealed in The Clare Champion last week. Cian Dillon was in at corner-back with Seadna Morey at midfield, while Darach Honan was in the full-forward line. Cratloe’s Conor Ryan and Paudge Collins were the players who had been named to start but they had to be content with a place on the bench.
Clare made an excellent start and hit four points without reply in the opening six minutes, as John Conlon caused huge problems for Waterford.
A superb delivery from Colin Ryan to Darach Honan resulted in a Clare point in the 11th minute but another error led to a Seamus Prendergast point, which levelled the tie for the second time after 15 minutes.
In the second quarter, they outscored Clare 0-7 to 0-2 to go to the break with a four-point advantage, 1-9 to 0-8. The Déise outfit could have had a greater lead at this point as their tally of nine wides to Clare’s four indicates.
Darach Honan was too strong and ended up going over the endline.
Shanahan (free) and Honan exchanged points before the game took a decisive turn in Clare’s favour in the 20th minute. A foul on Colin Ryan resulted in a 20m free for Clare and, surprisingly, Tony Kelly went for goal. His effort was saved and Waterford captain Kevin Moran won possession. He headed across a crowded goalmouth before his attempted clearance was blocked by Peter Duggan and Shane O’Donnell was on hand to rifle the ball to the net. It was the Ennis man’s last act as Paudge Collins was already on the way to replace him.
From here on, Clare grew in confidence and they struck the killer blow with nine minutes remaining. A huge delivery from a Patrick Kelly free was picked up by Conor McGrath on one of the few occasions he got away from impressive Waterford defender Noel Connors and the Cratloe man cooly dispatched the ball to the net.
Waterford did respond with three points to Clare’s one in the next four minutes to leave four between the teams but Clare were in control in most areas at this stage. They finished off with points from Fergal Lynch, Colm Galvin (2) and Colin Ryan to set up a semi-final meeting with Cork.
After having a number of anxious moments in the opening half, the Clare defence held the upperhand in the second period. Brendan Bugler was particularly impressive along with Domhnaill O’Donovan and Patrick O’Connor. Up front, John Conlon caused a lot of problems for Waterford throughout, while Tony Kelly and Darach Honan were others to trouble the Waterford defence.
Scorers: Colin Ryan (0-7, 6f, 1 65’); Tony Kelly (0-4) John Conlon, Darach Honan (0-3 each); Shane O’Donnell, Conor McGrath (1-0 each); Colm Galvin (0-2), Fergal Lynch (0-1).
Waterford: Ian O’Regan; Noel Connors, Liam Lawlor, Paudie Prendergast; Jamie Nagle, Michael Walsh, Kevin Moran; Shane O’Sullivan, Darragh Fives; Brian O’Halloran, Seamus Prendergast, Pauric Mahony; Jamie Barron, Maurice Shanahan, Jake Dillon.
Subs: Ray Barry for O’Halloran (17 minutes); Gavin O’Brien for Barron (55 minutes); Martin O’Neill for Mahony (63 minutes).