It was a competent display from a youthful and experimental home 15 but, in truth, WIT simply didn’t turn up. They were there physically, though even at that they barely scraped together a full team, but with an eye to Thursday’s Fitzgibbon Cup first-round date with CIT their spirit was very much elsewhere.
Manager Peter Kirwan: “We were short about 10 who would probably have been playing, a few also who are involved with their own counties, but our championship is on Thursday; the Fitzgibbon Cup, that’s our priority, so we weren’t too pushed about not having them either.”
Had the Munster Council gone about it properly, however, it would have been a very different game, says Peter. Instead, this was a complete waste of time and effort for both teams, a complete waste of time also for CIT manager Pat Mulcahy, who had come to cast an eye over Thursday’s opponents.
Not so for the 638 faithful who settled into the comfort of the all-seater Tommy Morey Stand in O’Garney Park. It was Davy’s first outing with Clare, but it was also a senior competitive debut for a few youngsters who, in time, will surely star in the saffron-and-blue.
Wing-back Seadna Morey was electric at left-half-back, Daire Keane led the attack like a veteran, Aaron Cunningham of Wolfe Tones was superb at corner-forward, while Cathal Chaplin was powerful on the wing.
Cian Dillon was a commanding figure at full-back, the returning Domhnall O’Donovan gave a performance of pace and power at corner-back, while in style and stature James McInerney – another youngster – looked like a reincarnation of the recently retired Gerry Quinn, though at right-half-back.
Colin Ryan was on fire at full-forward until suffering injury just before half-time, while elsewhere the likes of Conor Cooney, Enda Barrett (who will play with WIT this Thursday), midfield duo Nicky O’Connell and Pat Donnellan, big Fergal Lynch and the hard-working Eoin Hayes and Jonny Clancy all looked sharp, given the time of year.
As a contest it was all over within ten minutes, at which point Clare were already 0-6 to 0-0 ahead. The one-way traffic continued to the break, at which point Clare led 2-14 to 0-3 (Cunningham and Keane with the goals). No change either on the resumption, Eoin Hayes finally getting reward for his sterling efforts with the third Clare goal. In fact were it not for the sheer brilliance of WIT keeper Stephen O’Keeffe this would have been a loss of epic proportions.
As it was, Davy pronounced himself just about pleased. “Once we win and win well that’s fine — it’s up to Waterford what kind of team they put out. Things I was pleased with, things I wasn’t, but, in general, if you look at the team I think they worked very hard and you can’t ask for any more than that. It’s only the 20th of January — hard work, that’s all it was. We knew the game was over after the first half but we just had to keep working and not drop our tempo.”
Scorers for Clare: D Keane 1-6; C Ryan 0-7 (0-3f); A Cunningham 1-4 (0-2f); E Hayes 1-0; N O’Connell 0-3; P Donnellan 0-2; J Clancy 0-2, C Cooney 0-1.
Scorers for WIT: D Murphy 0-2 (0-2f); J Dillon, K Hammersley (f), C O’Meara (f), 0-1 each.
CLARE: P Kelly; D O’Donovan, C Dillon, C Cooney; J McInerney, E Barrett, S Morey; N O’Connell, P Donnellan; C Chaplin, D Keane, F Lynch; E Hayes, C Ryan, A Cunningham.
Subs: J Clancy (Ryan inj. 27); B Donnellan (Lynch 59); M Earley (Cooney 60); S O’Halloran (Morey 69).
WIT: S O’Keeffe (Waterford); M Power (Waterford), P Nolan (Kilkenny), J Cahill (Kilkenny); S O’Keeffe (Waterford), L O’Loughlin (Clare), D Murphy (Dublin); M Power (Kilkenny), J O’Dwyer (Tipperary); E Madigan (Waterford), S Cleary (Tipperary), C O’Meara (Tipperary); T Kavanagh (Tipperary), J Dillon (Waterford), K Hammersley (Tipperary).
Subs: B Burke (Galway, O’Dwyer 55); N Connors (Waterford, O’Keeffe 55).
Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).