THE form held in the Munster Hurling Championship at Semple Stadium on Saturday evening, Davy Fitzgerald's Waterford misfiring again and Clare going top of the table.
The Banner, raging favourites beforehand against a Déise outfit that were terrible in their loss to Cork, had the benefit of an extra man after the first-half dismissal of Calum Lyons for two yellows and cruised through the second half.
Tony Kelly was their leading performer with 0-13 with Ian Galvin and Cathal Malone grabbing the goals. They were without the injured Aidan McCarthy but were solid in every sector. Cork are in Cusack Park next Sunday and a victory for Brian Lohan's charges will seal a Munster final berth.
As they had been in their narrow defeat at the hands of Limerick, Waterford were wasteful, clipping 12 first-half wides to Clare's four. They were 1-10 to 0-10 in arrears at the break but that was as good as it got. In what was a home game in Thurles due to the renovation of Walsh Park, they didn't show a lot of belief and their paltry tally of 16 points, and just 0-9 from play, said it all.
It's easy to knock Davy Fitz but his return to the helm seemed an odd move from Waterford when Liam Cahill left last season and has backfired badly. While the injury to Tadhg de Búrca robbed them of their defensive bulwark, the Déise have offered very little in the league or championship aside from rattling Limerick in the Munster opener last month.
The result doesn't change much from a Cork perspective, they're going to have to beat either Clare or Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds a week later to qualify in the province. Limerick and Tipp collide at 4pm next Sunday, with the Premier at home to the eliminated Waterford in the final round of fixtures.
That means Tipp are bankers now to finish in the top three after the round robin even if they lose to Limerick. Clare's last game is against Cork and even if they lose they're still in a strong position with the head-to-head advantage over Limerick.
John Kiely's side have been licking their wounds since the surprise defeat to the Banner and will roar out of the blocks in Thurles. Cork and Clare will be an absolute belter as well.
The Rebels were off the pace in their 2019 visit to Ennis and overall don't have a great record at Cusack Park over the years.
Keeping tabs on Tony Kelly will be a key element of the game plan Pat Ryan and his selectors concoct but more than anything selecting a starting 15 with an appetite for work and cool heads is essential. Luke Meade was a surprise omission in the draw with Tipp on that basis while Shane Kingston is the obvious replacement for the injured Robbie O'Flynn.
S Bennett 0-7 f, A Gleeson 0-3 (0-2 f), D Hutchinson, P Curran 0-2 each, J Barron, P Hogan 0-1 each.
T Kelly 0-13 (0-8 f, 0-1 65), I Galvin, C Malone 1-1 each, D Ryan, S O’Donnell 0-2 each, R Taylor, S Meehan, R Mounsey 0-1 each.