Ryan revels in perfect timing

Clare 1-17 Waterford 2-15

Ryan revels in perfect timing

“First question from me,” he asked jokingly of the congregated journalists. “Did any of ye get a prediction right?”

There were no takers as a fancied Clare side were ousted by an injury-time Jake Dillon free to settle a thriller in which the teams had enjoyed parity on 11 occasions.

The decisive result also made it two wins out of two for Ryan against former Waterford boss Davy Fitzgerald and land a psychological blow ahead of the counties’ Munster quarter-final in June.

They may yet meet in a relegation final before that but with three home games from four to come for Waterford they may elect not to deliver on their side of the bargain.

With the fourth official having signalled for two additional minutes, referee John Sexton could have blown up for full-time prior to Brendan Bugler’s high foul on Shane O’Sullivan in the 73rd minute.

He may have also played more time as play was stalled for two long injury periods in the second half but Dillon’s composure was faultless as he swept over the winning free.

It confirmed a vital victory for a Waterford team that had been favourites for the drop prior to arriving at Cusack Park.

“The spirit in the camp has been absolutely magnificent,” said Ryan. “I smile when I hear stories about things not being well in our camp.

“We know the spirit in our camp is fantastic and all that really matters are the 30 or 40 guys in our group and they’re working really hard.”

Waterford’s young tyros were impressive. Pauric Mahony may not yet be fully fit but he was among the six starting forwards that had all scored by the 51st minute.

It was an afternoon of redemption for Brian O’Halloran, a player who had suffered the indignity of being withdrawn after 22 minutes in the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tipperary. Here the Clashmore/Kinsalebeg man was in sumptuous form, bagging two points either side of the half.

Clare will be haunted by their wide count of 12 and a couple of second-half goal chances that went begging. Substitute Colm Galvin was counting his lucky stars when Stephen O’Keeffe inexplicably hand-passed to him in the 43rd minute.

He then appeared to be tripped by the Waterford goalkeeper but still managed to get a shot away, a passage of play which eventually resulted in a Clare 65.

Fifteen minutes later and, with the sides level, Stephen Daniels put in a vital block on Shane O’Donnell.

In the end, Tony Kelly was the only player who forced O’Keeffe to pick the sliotar out of his net, in the 24th minute when the left flank of the Waterford defence had been sucked in by John Conlon whose pass laid on the goal for Kelly.

Waterford had opened their goal account in the 16th minute when Seamus Prendergast took advantage of a lethargic attempt by the Clare defence to clear their lines.

With a massive gap behind the full-back line and Pat Donnellan losing his balance, the veteran of the Waterford attack make it 1-2 to 0-2.

A beautiful O’Halloran point a couple of minutes later was followed by the visitors’ second goal when a crafty ground stroke by Gavin O’Brien around his body went straight into the path of the onrushing Dillon, who elected not to raise the ball either in beating Patrick Kelly.

Seven points behind, Kelly’s goal helped Clare to repair most of the damage by the break, when they trailed 1-7 to 2-5.

O’Donnell’s 42nd minute point put Clare ahead, 1-11 to 2-7, for only the second time in the game.

It turned out to be the first of five brief occasions they enjoyed a one-point advantage in the second half.

With two minutes left, Waterford broke the pattern and went ahead via Dillon before Tony Kelly responded to level matters going into dramatic injury-time.

CLARE: P Kelly; D O’Donovan, J McInerney, D McInerney; B Bugler, P Donnellan, P O’Connor; C Ryan, S Morey; F Lynch, T Kelly, E Barrett; J Conlan, S O’Donnell, P Collins.

WATERFORD: S O’Keeffe; S Daniels, S Fives, N Connors; J Nagle, M Walsh, K Moran; S O’Sullivan, D Twomey; B O’Halloran, S Prendergast, P Mahony; G O’Brien, J Dillon, B O’Sullivan.

Scorers for Clare: C Ryan 0-9 (5f, 1 65); T Kelly 1-3; S Morey 0-2; F Lynch, S O’Donnell, C Galvin 0-1 each.

Scorers for Waterford: J Dillon 1-5 (0-3f); S Prendergast 1-1; B O’Halloran 0-4; P Mahony 0-3 (all frees); D Fives, B O’Sullivan 0-1 each.

Subs for Clare: N O’Connell for O’Connor, C Galvin for Barrett (both h-t); A Cunningham for Collins (54); S Collins for Lynch (58); J Clancy for Cunningham (inj 64).

Subs for Waterford: D Fives for Twomey (h-t); J Barron for O’Brien (43); R Barry for Mahony (57).

Referee: J Sexton (Cork).

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