For a team known for high wide counts, there was little of it from Clare as they disposed of Kilkenny emphatically despite coughing up 2-19.
Kilkenny will feel miscommunication in their full-back line was to blame for Clare’s goals but the Banner had done such a job on the Cats as regards tactics and outworking them around the middle that nothing could be taken away from this victory.
Things could hardly have got much worse for Kieran Kingston’s side in this outing.
They made amends in going down narrowly to Kilkenny the following weekend but they truly stank Croke Park out for this one.
Surely nothing this season will come close to the finish to this game. Cork led 2-16 to 0-17 before TJ Reid reduced the margin to three only for Conor Lehane to put some daylight between the teams.
The gap was five going into the final 10 minutes thanks to Pa Horgan’s marksmanship and yet Kilkenny couldn’t be shaken off. Reid pointed, Colin Fennelly goaled and Lester Ryan pointed to cut the margin to the minimum.
Reid then found the net to push Kilkenny ahead only for Lehane to cancel it out. Cork could have sneaked it but John Power intercepted a Patrick Collins puck-out to strike the winner.
Tipperary may have beaten Dublin handsomely on the opening weekend and Waterford and Kilkenny between them scored less than half what Galway and Cork managed in Pearse Stadium and yet there was little urgency or intensity in Salthill.
Maybe we should have known then that the pair would finish bottom of the pile.
John Conlon and Austin Gleeson give Galvin strong competition but the Clonlara man has looked such an assured presence in the middle third for Clare.
If he hasn’t been linking play with aplomb or putting fine diagonal ball into the edge of the square, he’s been picking off some lovely scores.
Dare it be said, Galvin looks like a man who’s trying to make up for the time he lost in Boston early last summer.
Again, Gleeson figures prominently in this consideration but we opt for Bennett on the basis of consistency.
The Ballysaggart teenager made a name for himself with his terrific display for the U21s against Cork last June having sat a Leaving Cert exam earlier that day.
Bennett this year not only looks stronger but more confident, almost oblivious to the detail that he has been put on him in matches. Ronan Maher is also worthy of a mention.
Colm Galvin (Clare), Jamie Barron (Waterford).
Patrick Kelly (Clare); Oisín O’Brien (Clare), Barry Coughlan (Waterford), Cian Dillon (Clare); Austin Gleeson (Waterford), Ronan Maher (Tipp), Padraic Walsh (Kilkenny); John Conlon (Clare), TJ Reid (Kilkenny), Patrick Curran (Waterford); Conor McGrath (Clare), Shane Bennett (Waterford), John McGrath (Tipp).