Waterford won their first Munster MFC game in five years as they stormed back from six points down to surprise Clare in Dungarvan tonight.
Midfielder DJ Melia netted two late goals to give Tom Guiry’s men a morale-boosting victory. The players celebrated the landmark result in the post-match huddle as family and friends joined them on the field.
It wasn’t enough to seal a place in the Phase 1 final, however, as Clare will meet Tipperary in a fortnight.
Tomás Meenahan bagged a first half goal and captain Shane Meehan scored three points as they led 1-7 to 0-4 after 48 minutes. Those two Melia majors and three Tom Dalton points from play turned the game on its head.
The game was overshadowed by a facial injury to Clare defender Matthew Reidy which led to an hour delay as an ambulance arrived in the centre of the field to bring the Shannon Gaels man to hospital. In first half injury time, two Clare players, Reidy and Meenahan, collided accidently with Waterford corner back Archie Walsh as they contested for a ball in front of the stand.
Reidy suffered a nasty facial gash and lost a tooth in the incident. He was assisted back to the Clare dugout by the medical staff.
The teams re-emerged for the second half but Reidy remained in the dugout and Limerick referee Jonathan Hayes informed both camps that an ambulance was called. The players soon returned to the dressing rooms. Reidy was able to walk into the ambulance when it parked outside the dugout.
Before a small crowd of 210, Meehan kicked the opener from a free before Sean Walsh levelled in the fifth minute. Clare then shot three wides in a row. Waterford also wasted three opportunities including two frees.
In the 20th minute, Liam Murphy hand passed across goal to Meenahan who palmed the ball into the net. Sub Tadgh Lillis, who replaced midfielder Cillian McGroary early on, added a point off the next attack (1-2 to 0-1). Tom O’Connell converted a free at the other end after 22 minutes.
Lillis landed the point of the game with the outside of his right. Waterford had a lucky escape as Liam Murphy saw a shot come back off the metalwork and Taidgh Murray saved the rebound from Meenahan. Aaron Ryan nailed a free for the hosts on 28 minutes. 1-3 to 0-3 at the break.
When the match resumed, after 60 minutes of inactivity, Eoin Rouine extended the Clare lead to four. Tom Dalton replied for Waterford. O’Connell was then denied by a diving save from Thomas Collins. The magical Meehan, with the yellow boots, added two frees to the Clare total before he struck the post on 40 minutes. A Jamie Stack 45 widened the gap to six.
Ryan and Dalton fired quickfire points for the home side. With seven minutes left, midfielder DJ Melia rifled a shot to the roof of the net (1-8 to 1-6). A thumping goal. Dalton then kicked his third from play. A late Liam Murphy point put Clare two up. In the last minute, Ryan was fouled by Lillis for a penalty and the Clare man got his marching orders. Melia duly slotted the spot kick. A shot in the arm for Waterford football.
Scorers for Waterford: DJ Melia 2-0, T Dalton 0-3, A Ryan 0-2 (1f), S Walsh, T O’Connell (1f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: T Meenahan 1-0, S Meehan 0-3 (3fs), T Lillis 0-2, J Stack (45), E Rouine, E Talty, L Murphy 0-1 each.
WATERFORD: T Murray (Dungarvan); B O’Brien (Stradbally), S Boyce (The Nire), K Taylor (St Saviours); M Dalton (Shamrocks), C Foley (Ballinacourty), A Walsh (Portlaw); S Walsh (The Nire), DJ Melia (Brickey Rangers); T Dalton (Shamrocks), C Scanlon (Kill), A Ryan (The Nire); M Mullaney (Stradbally), C Rooney (Portlaw), T O’ Connell (Brickey Rangers).
Subs: P Skehan (Stradbally) for S Walsh (46), C O Dalaigh (Ballyduff Lower) for O’Connell (46).
CLARE: T Collins (Lissycasey); F Kelliher (St. Josephs Doora/Barefield), M Garry (Cooraclare), C McMahon (Ennistymon); E Walshe (The Banner), F Guinnane (Kildysart), M Reidy (Shannon Gaels); E Rouine (Ennistymon), C McGroary (Corofin); S Casey (Clondegad), T Meenaghan (The Banner). K Crowley (Kilrush Shamrocks); L Murphy (Wolfe Tones), S Meehan (The Banner), E Talty (St Josephs Doora Barefield).
Subs: T Lillis (Doonbeg) for McGroary (5), S Browne (O’Currys) for Meenahan (35), C Hassett (Kildysart) for Reidy (35), J Stack (St Breckans) for Crowley (36), S McNamara (Michael Cusacks) for Casey (45), C Killeen (Doonbeg) for Meehan (49), M Comber (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Walshe (54), D Whelan (Newmarket on Fergus) for Kelliher (54).
Referee: J Hayes (Limerick)