Waterford 4-18 Clare 1-10
The last time these two sides met, two weeks ago at this same venue in this same competition, the Munster MHC play-off semi-final decider, such was the force of the gale that stormed through Dungarvan that both teams were damn near blown away and in the interests of safety, the game was called off.
For yesterday evening’s refixture conditions were positively balmy, beautiful summery evening with just the usual Dungarvan breeze, but one side was still blown away, Clare with no answer as Waterford served up a treat for their large following in the 2,076 attendance.
In fact, were it not for the heroics of Bobby Duggan, who scored all but two points of the Clare total, and the brilliance of Liam Corbett in the Clare goal with two top-class saves, this would have been altogether worse for the visitors.
With Clare having put Cork to the pin of their collar in the opening round, Waterford will now head to Cork for the Munster semi-final on June 26 with some confidence, a better team certainly than that which had lost to Tipperary in their own opener.
From the outset it was the home team setting the pace. Though playing into the stiff breeze they led 1-4 to 0-2 after just 10 minutes, full-forward Conor Gleeson with the goal after he had stolen in behind the napping Clare inside line of defence to pounce on the break from a long Mark O’Brien centre.
Also off the mark at this stage for Waterford was outstanding corner-forward Patrick Curran, Cian Moloney and giant full-forward David Begley with the Clare points.
Enter Bobby Duggan, and from there to the break it was the Clarecastle starlet doing all the scoring for Clare, six points, five from placed balls.
Waterford, with wing-forward Adam Farrell deadly accurate (three points), Cormac Curran winning oceans of possession and instantly dispatching the ball inside, were also on the mark and maintained that five-point lead to the break, 1-10 to 0-8.
Now facing into the breeze, Clare needed a fast start. Didn’t get it — the opposite, in fact. Inside five minutes they had conceded a further 1-2 to what is a multi-pronged and dangerous
Waterford attack, Cormac Curran with the goal after good work by Michael Kearney.
Kearney himself it was with those two points and though the ever-threatening Duggan hit back with two points for Clare, making it 2-12 to 0-10 with still 18 minutes to play.
The game was up in the next five minutes, another scoring burst by Waterford, another 1-4, but even better news, a penalty scored by the returning Stephen Bennett.
Star of the side for the last two years, Bennett has now fully recovered from a double-hip operation and announced his comeback here with another double, finishing the evening with two goals, the second (Waterford’s fourth) coming in the 55th minute and set up with a superb Patrick Curran pass.
On this evidence Waterford will take some stopping now in Munster. The forward threats we’ve noted, but in defence also they are rock solid, full-back Sam O’Neill a powerful presence, good hand, Mount Sion’s Austin Gleeson outside him looking like a real diamond for the future, and the near-future at that. On the defensive flanks also they are well served while midfielder Micheál Kearney, one of five from the All-Ireland colleges A champions Dungarvan Colleges (Christy Breathnach on as a sub) is another standout. Waterford hurling on the up and up.
Scorers for Waterford: P Curran 0-6 (1 65); Stephen Bennett 2-0 (1-0p); C Curran 1-2; A Farrell 0-3; M Kearney 0-3; C Gleeson 1-0; C Breathnach, A Gleeson, M O’Brien, DJ Foran, 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: B Duggan 1-8 (4f, 0-1 65); A Morey, D Begley, 0-1 each.
WATERFORD: S Clancy; B Whelan, S O’Neill, W Hahessey; T Devine, A Gleeson, Shane Bennett; M O’Brien, M Harney; A Farrell, C Roche, C Curran; P Curran, C Gleeson, M Kearney.
Subs: Stephen Bennett (Roche 40); K Daly (Whelan 48); DJ Foran (Kearney 50); C Breathnach (O’Brien 52); P O’Connor (P Curran 55).
CLARE: L Corbett; S O’Leary, D McCarthy, N Bolton; A McGuane (c), E Tuohy, S Gleeson; C Downey, D Conroy; B Duggan, C Corbett, A Morey; S Ward, D Begley, C Maloney.
Subs: R Taylor (Downey 23); M Lynch (Moloney inj. 37); O Donnellan (Corbett 39); K Fennessy (Conroy 51).
Referee: A Sherlock (Tipperary).