Waterford beat Clare in a Munster thriller to reach the provincial hurling final
There certainly was the feeling of a Munster championship match from the off set at Semple Stadium Thurles. Davy Fitzgerald has gone with a very young side, with the foundation of the team being members of the All-Ireland winning side from 2009. Waterford had a mix of both youth and experience in their side with 4 players making their championship debuts.
Clare got off to a great start with 2 points in 2 minutes but Waterford were quick to respond with a point from Philip Clancy. Clare added a 2 more points through Nicky O’Connell to leave the score 0-4 to 0-1.
John Mullane then pulled one back for Waterford despite being under immense pressure from 2 Clare defenders. Shane Walsh picked off a nice point following a long clearance from Michael Brick Walsh to leave Waterford behind by a point
Waterford were then awarded a penalty when Clare full back Cian Dillon was deemed to have fouled Waterford ace Eoin Kelly who used his experience to fool the referee in giving Waterford a penalty where it should have been Clare who have got the free. Never the less Kelly took the penalty himself and blasted it into the roof of the net to put Waterford 2 points to the good after 13 minutes.
Maurice Shanahan added a free for Waterford and then another from play following an excellent catch by John Mullane in Mid field who laid it off to Shanahan who popped it over the bar
Colin Ryan responded with Clare’s first score in 11 minutes with a free following a high challenge on Clare forward Jonathan Clancy.
A minute later Waterford found the back of the net yet again when full forward Shane Walsh broke a long ball delivery and flicked it past the on rushing Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly to bundle the ball into the net and leave Waterford 6 points to the good mid way through the first half.
Colin McGrath shortened the defecate to 5 points with a lovely point after a very good pick up under pressure.
Clare were again on the score sheet when Clare Full forward John Conlon took a pass from Colin Ryan, after scrappy play in the Waterford full back line. Conlon took the ball to the 21 and buried it in to the top corner of the Waterford net.
Waterford responded with a goal chance of their won when Waterford debutant Gavin O’Brien found himself inside the Clare 14 yard line to the left of the goal and only a point blank save from Patrick Kelly prevented Waterford getting a third goal.
Clare added another score through Nicky O’Connell when Stephen Molunphy was surrounded by a bombardment of Clare forwards and O’Connell picked up on the break and fired it home to leave 3 points between the sides.
Seamus Prendergast added another point for Waterford when he found himself all alone in the middle of the field and was able to canter forward to tap it over the bar to put Waterford 4 points to the good.
Clare pulled back another point through full forward when Nicky O’Connell gave an un-necessary short pass to John Conlon but he dispatched the point none the less. From the resulting puck out Clare picked up loose ball and delivered to Conlon who duly pointed to leave only 2 points between the teams at half time
Waterford started the second have with a score from John Mullane with inside the opening 20 seconds followed by a point by Maurice Shanahan a minute later to push Waterford’s lead out to 4 points again. Shanahan had another opportunity moments later from a dead ball but failed to convert from the sideline.
Jonathan Clancy was the first to respond for Clare in the second half with a well taken point to reduce the gap to a goal again. Clare were awarded a free around their own 45 but because of some verbal’s from the Waterford players it was moved up into scoring range and Nicky O’Connell duly dispatched the ball over the bar.
Following some scrappy play by both sides Clare’s Colin McGrath picked up the ball on the Waterford 65 and scored a magnificent point from the sideline to reduce the gap to a single point.
Colin Ryan Brought Clare back into it from a dead ball after the Waterford centre back Michael Brick Walsh was judged to have touched the ball on the ground.
Clare at this stage had scored 4 unanswered points when John Mullane fouled Nicky o Connell and picked up a yellow card for his foul. The resulting free taken by Clare goalkeeper sailed over the bar to put Clare into the lead for the first time in the game.
Substitute Paul o Brien won 2 frees for Waterford which Maurice Shanahan converted with ease to put Waterford back into the lead. Stephen Molunphy capitalized on the Clare defence going to tatters and he popped the ball over the bar with ease to put Waterford 2 points to the good on 54 minutes.
15 minutes to go a short sideline cut given to John Mullane resulted in another Waterford score and at this vital point in the game with Waterford a goal to the good Clare started to lose composure and give away another free which Richie Foley slotted between the uprights.
Nicky O’Connell responded for Clare for their first score in 9 minutes following a dubious decision from the referee who deemed Eoin Kelly had fouled O’Connell. Jonathan Clancy added another point from play 30 seconds later to bring the gap to 2 points
Again Clare’s concentration let them down when Maurice Shanahan was fouled rather softly and Shanahan converted his own free from the 45 yard line and the Gap was back to 3 again
Substitute Liam Markham had a chance to reduce the gap again but a lack of experience let him down and shot wide, but Connor McGrath made no mistake in getting his 4th point from play moments later to keep Clare in contention with 7 minutes to go.
Clare substitute Dara Honan was fouled off the ball inside the Waterford 21 and Colin Ryan blasted the ball over the bar to reduce the gap to a single point.
Aaron Cunningham was introduced for Colin Ryan with 5 minutes to go and Nicky o Connell took over the free taking duties and missed a free from 50 yards out to draw level.
Eoin Kelly was replaced Martin O’Neill and the under 21 first task of the day was to slot the ball over the bar and put the Deise 2 points up.
From the resulting puck out Clare broke through the Waterford defence and Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O’Keefe pulled off an outstanding which certainly kept his team in it. Again O’Connell missed the 65.
Dara Honan had chance for a clear goal but couldn’t manage to get the ball in his hand and almost immediately after, Waterford had a 3 on one chance on the Waterford goal and a rush of blood to the head of young Tomas Ryan resulted in him scuffing the shot
In the dying seconds in true Munster hurling championship style Clare got a 21 yard free which Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly came up to take but Waterford Goalkeeper Stephen O’Keefe was more than up to the task and saved Kelly’s rocket of a shot.
This really was your typical Munster hurling championship it had passion intensity and desire to win. Waterford Go on to yet another Munster final where Clare go to the Qualifiers and after their performance today will have no one to fear. This team has serious potential, they have the fitness, they have the hurling, and with a little bit more experience will be a team to be reckoned with and feared.
Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe, Aidan Kearney, Liam Lawlor, Stephen Daniels, Richie Foley, Michael Walsh, Philip Mahony, Kevin Moran, Stephen Molumphy, Maurice Shanahan, Seamus Prendergast, Eoin Kelly, John Mullane, Shane Walsh, Gavin O’Brien.
Clare: Patrick Kelly, Domhnall O’Donovan, Cian Dillon, Conor Cooney, Brendan Bugler, James McInerney, Patrick O Connor, Nicky O Connell, Patrick Donnellan (c), Enda Barrett, Sean Collins, Jonathan Clancy, Colin Ryan, John Conlon, Conor McGrath