Chances are you’re not even that interested in the match itself, though the two sides served up decent fare despite a stiff breeze and treacherous underfoot conditions, with Waterford showing character to hold out for a fine away win.
If you’re honest, you’re only curious – nosy, really — about one aspect of yesterday’s game.
Mick O’Dwyer as Clare manager. Micko, who managed Kerry to eight All-Ireland titles before some of his current charges were born, back with a scrunched-up match programme in his hand, back patrolling the long acre between the sideline whitewash and the fencing that holds back the supporters.
How many miles has he clocked up in that territory in the past forty years? He’s certainly kept his eyes open on his circuits of the country’s playing areas: in the first half Waterford manager Niall Carew was bending the ear of a linesman about a call near the Déise dugout; when the linesman wandered into O’Dwyer’s orbit, the old master clearly couldn’t resist dropping a word or two in the official’s shell-like.
Never hurts to press the flesh.
The on-field proceedings were lively enough. In the first half Clare opened brightly with points from David Tubridy and Cathal O’Connor before Waterford began to use the breeze at their backs, and reeled off three good points from Shane Aherne, Patrick Hurney and Darren Guiry.
It was nip and tuck from there to the break, but with time almost up the impressive Tubridy popped up with two good points, one from a free, and Martin McMahon surged forward for another to make it 0-7 to 0-5 at the break in Clare’s favour.
Though the home side got the first point of the second half, Waterford took over soon after that and dominated midfield utterly, winning every break going. They hit three points on the trot and then, on 49 minutes, Liam Ó Lionáin won a terrific ball in the middle and placed Guiry, who finished well for the game’s only goal.
That put Waterford three up and although Clare rallied towards the end, they never closed the gap and the Banner were guilty of some wasteful shooting as the clock wore down.
The old maestro was accurate in his assessment: “We had our chances there at the finish,” said O’Dwyer after a detailed debrief of his charges.
“We must have kicked five wides in a row there at the finish, we didn’t take our chances and when you don’t take your chances you’re not entitled to win.
“We were looking good at half-time but in fairness to Waterford they showed a good level of fitness, they ran at us and kicked some good scores.
“They dominated the game around the middle of the field all through, they had big men there to field the ball and that’s always a help, “The league is there to find out about players, and that was disappointing not to win that one. We kicked some woeful wides there at the end. We didn’t seem to be a bit sharp there in the second half – we seemed to die.”
If you thought Waterford might have been wrong-footed by the late switch of venue, by the way, you were wrong.
“We planned to stay in Miltown Malbay anyway,” said contented Déise boss Carew afterwards.
“That was always part of the plan. And we thought there was always a chance that the game might have to be switched down here anyway.”
Cuteness not confined to the Clare dugout, obviously.
Scorers for Clare: D. Tubridy 0-5 (0-3 fs), S. McGrath 0-2, M. McMahon, C. O’Connor, A. Clohessy and C. Dunning 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: D. Guiry 1-1; P. Whyte 0-3 (0-1 f), R. Aherne 0-2; C. McGrath, P. Hurney, S. Aherne 0-1 each.
CLARE: J. Hayes, L. Healy, S. McNeils, E. Coughlan, D. Callinan, G. Kelly, M. McMahon, G. Brennan (c), C. O Connor, S. McGrath, A. Clohessy, C. Dunning, M. McCarthy, N. Kelly, D. Tubridy.
Subs: G. Quinlan for N. Kelly, 45; J. Keane for S McGrath, 65.
WATERFORD: S. Enright, C. Phelan, S. Prendergast, J. Hurney, P. Whyte, S. Briggs (c), T. Grey, S. Aherne, T. Prendergast, C. McGrath, P. Hurney, M. O’Gorman, D. Guiry, R. Aherne, L. O Lionain Subs: G. Nugent for C. McGrath, 60; R. Cahill for T. Prendergast, 63; K. Sheehan for Guiry, 70.
Referee: P. O’Sullivan (Kerry).