Clare take long-awaited Div 1 title in controversial circumstances against Waterford

Clare 1-23 Waterford 2-19

Clare’s first Division 1 title since 1978 was helped in controversial circumstances although they won’t be too upset about Tony Kelly’s late brace of points, which guided them to victory, writes John Fogarty.

Waterford were three points up with four minutes of normal time left but Clare shot the last four points of the game, the penultimate to level the game a long-range free won and converted by Kelly although Waterford’s Jamie Barron looked to have been fouled by Cian Dillon seconds previously.

Clare won the resultant puck-out and Kelly was on hand on the other side of the field to split the posts and crown a most dramatic replay win watched by 14,210 in Semple Stadium.

Waterford will have plenty of motivation for the counties’ June 5 Munster semi-final date having been the better team for large swathes of this game.

However, they let Clare back into this game when Kelly finished expertly to goal in the 48th minute.

Any thoughts of another chess battle were dismissed after just 17 seconds when Patrick Curran rounded a static Pat O’Connor to goal.

Clare recovered so well that they were actually 0-6 to 1-2 midway through the half when Conor McGrath struck over from a free - his team’s fourth in a row.

The sides were level when O’Connor was again responsible for some slack defending, putting a ball into the path of Curran who ran before pushing a looping hand-pass over the cover into an unmarked Jake Dillon to find the net.

After another McGrath free, Waterford pointed four on the bounce to go six up, although five further points from McGrath cut the gap to three, 2-9 to 0-12 at the break.

Scorers for Clare: C. McGrath (0-8, 5 frees); T. Kelly (1-6, 0-1 free); D. Honan, C. Ryan (1 free) (0-2 each); P. Collins, A. Cunningham, P. O’Connor, D. Fitzgerald, D. Reidy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Waterford: P. Curran (1-9, 0-7 frees); J Dillon (1-0); A. Gleeson (0-3); J. Barron, S. Bennett (0-2 each); K. Moran, D. Fives, B. O’Halloran (0-1 each)

CLARE: P. Kelly; C. Cleary, C. Dillon, D. Fitzgerald; J. Browne, P. O’Connor, B. Bugler; D. Reidy, C. Galvin; T. Kelly, C. McGrath, P. Collins; D. Honan, A. Cunningham, S. O’Donnell.

Subs for Clare: C. Ryan for C. Galvin (44); C. O’Connell for P. Collins (55); A. Shanagher for S. O’Donnell (65).

WATERFORD: S. O’Keeffe; B. Coughlan, N. Connors, S. Fives; D. Fives, K. Moran, Philip Mahony; J. Barron, T. de Burca; M. Walsh, A. Gleeson, S. Bennett; J. Dillon, P. Curran, T. Devine.

Subs for Waterford: C. Dunford for T. Devine (46); B. O’Halloran for J. Dillon (57); M. Shanahan for A. Gleeson (64-66); M. Shanahan for S. Bennett (68); T. Ryan for M. Walsh (70+1).

Referee: D. Kirwan (Cork)

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