Clare 1-22 Waterford 0-21
Clare held off a late Waterford surge – and could afford 22 wides – as they took victory in Sunday’s Munster SHC quarter-final at Semple Stadium.
Leading by nine points at half-time, Clare held the same advantage at the second-half water-break, but Waterford came back to within three by the end of normal time. Ultimately, Tony Kelly’s 12th point of the day gave Clare the breathing space to prevail in a game that never really hit the heights.
Brian Lohan’s side will have a quick turnaround before facing Tipperary next Sunday, the winners of which will meet Limerick or Cork on July 18. They will bring a measure momentum into that game, this win tacked on to a good finish to the Allianz HL, but some shooting practice will be essential.
Waterford only had eight of the starters from last December’s All-Ireland final and, while some of those absent were available from the bench, the loss of goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe, captain and full-back Conor Prunty, centre-back Tadhg de Búrca and midfielder Jamie Barron since represented a huge chunk of class and experience.
In the absence of Prunty, it was Calum Lyons who followed Tony Kelly when the Clare star went into full-forward at the throw-in but such a move denied Waterford the attacking impact that the Ballyduff man can have, shown to best effect against Cork last year.
That meeting with the Rebels at the same venue last October had seen Cork caught cold while Waterford were keyed in but here it was the Déise struggling to get to grips with things while Clare began well, up to a point. Using their manpower well in defence, they frustrated Waterford’s attacking forays while Kelly and Aron Shanagher were luxury outlets to have in attack, and it says much about the extent they were on top in the first half that they could retire with a nine-point lead after having 14 wides.
Not all of the wayward efforts were scoring attempts there was a wastefulness in front of goal that could have been punished. Indeed, having led by 0-7 to 0-1 coming up to the first-half water-break, that lead was down to just three points, 0-9 to 0-6, by the 27th minute after a brief Waterford resurgence, albeit one where Austin Gleeson was their only scorer from play in the first half.
Stephen Bennett was the only other Déise man on target, and it was his fourth free of the day which cut the deficit to a score, but Clare replied immediately as Ryan Taylor slotted over after forcing a turnover.
Immediately after that came what proved to be the pivotal score of the day. John Conlon, imperious at centre-back for Clare, found Shanagher with a superbly directed pass and he turned Shane Fives to give himself an avenue towards goal. His shot was off-target but Cork referee Colm Lyons deemed Fives’ impact to have been disadvantageous in that regard and the corner-back was sin-binned, Clare awarded a penalty.
Kelly stuck that to the net to make it 1-10 to 0-6 and he added two more frees before half-time, with David Reidy also on target while Shanagher should have done better with another goal chance. Waterford’s only response was a Stephen Bennett free to leave it 1-13 to 0-7 at the interval, though the trailing side did at least have the wind to come.
They couldn’t harness it to any great deal, with Clare breaking even in the ten points between the resumption and the second-half water-break, and again they were profligate with their scoring attempts.
Waterford tried to raise a gallop in the final quarter and had three of the first four points after the action resumed, with Gleesonn and sub Neil Montgomery assisting Bennett on the scoreboard. Aidan McCarthy’s third point for Clare ensured that they still held a seven-point lead.
The same margin pertained after Kelly’s 11th point on 64, but Bennett’s 12th for Waterford was followed by a point from sub Mikey Kearney and it was down to five, 1-21 to 0-19.
A long-ranger from Calum Lyons – freed of Kelly detail and moved out the field – and Gleeson’s fourth left a goal in it as injury time dawned. Kelly settled Clare with a point and Waterford’s late efforts were repelled.