Clare 2-17 Waterford 2-12, Fraher Field, Dungarvan
Clare are celebrating their first ever Bord Gáis Energy Munster Under-21 hurling title success, after Darach Honan's brace of second half goals helped them beat Waterford at Fraher Field, Dungarvan tonight.
Honan’s exploits earned him the man-of-the-match award, but this was a dogged team display from a talented Clare side who led by 0-11 to 1-05 at the interval.
Waterford settled quickest with two points from senior panellist Maurice Shanahan within 90 seconds of the throw-in.
But Clare were very clinical and hit only one wide in the first half, that score coming in injury-time. Waterford, on the other hand, amassed four first half wides and also had plenty of goal chances go astray.
Although Waterford's Thomas Ryan broke through to score a 12th minute goal, Clare’s defence was reasonably solid with full-back Eamon Glynn giving an excellent display.
Goalkeeper Donal Tuohy was also superb, with the Crusheen clubman saving goal-bound shots in the 8th and 20th minutes.
The Banner youngsters closed out the opening half superbly with four successive points in the space of three-and-half minutes - Honan bagged two points, either side of a superb long range strike from Nicky O'Connell and a Colin Ryan effort. Indeed, O’Connell's 28th-minute effort put Clare in front for the first time.
Waterford were dealt a considerable blow at half-time, when defender Jerome Maher had to treated by ambulance staff.
Although the right corner back started the second half, Maher was unable to continue and was replaced by John Gorman for the remainder of the contest.
Honan had scooped home Clare's first goal just a minute after the restart, rounding two Deise defenders and goalkeeper Adrian Power.
This was a high-octane encounter, with the 7,000 capacity crowd certainly getting their money's worth.
A brace of Shanahan frees, backed up with points from Shane Casey and a terrific long range effort from goalkeeper Power, restored the hosts' confidence as they cut the gap to three points, ten minutes into the second half.
But Clare bounced back, with Ryan slotting over his side's first score in nine minutes, before a John Conlan point opened up a five-point gap.
However, Waterford countered again and with the wind at their backs, they began to win more breaking ball at midfield.
Shane Casey was instrumental in the Deise's comeback, firstly a well-earned point and then a 45th minute goal.
Tomas Connors fed the ball to the inrushing Casey who cut the deficit to a single point with a powerfully-struck shot to the net.
Shanahan had a chance to equalise but shot wide of the target, before substitute John Gorman made amends to set up a grandstand finish.
Despite this, Clare showed the greater hunger in the closing stages with a first ever provincial title in their sights.
The height, skill and accuracy of Honan again came to the fore, with Domhnall O’Donovan threading a pass through from defence to the corner forward, who rounded Shane Fives to bring his tally to 2-02.
Clare maintained a high standard of hurling right until the final whistle with a Cormac O’Donovan score confirming their five-point win, a first ever Munster triumph at this grade and a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals against Galway on August 22.
After the game, a delighted Clare captain Ciaran O'Doherty accepted the Corn na Casca from Munster Council Chairman Jimmy O'Gorman.
Scorers: Clare: D Honan 2-02, C Ryan 0-07 (0-04f), N O'Connell (0-03f), C O’Donovan 0-03 each, C Morey, J Conlan 0-01 each
Waterford: M Shanahan 0-06 (0-05f), S Casey 1-03, T Ryan 1-01 (0-01sl), A Power (0-01f), J Gorman 0-01 each
CLARE: D Tuohy; J Gunning, E Glynn, C O’Doherty; D O’Donovan, C Duggan, E Barrett; N O’Connell, L Markham; J Conlan, S Collins, C O’Donovan; D Honan, C Morey, C Ryan.
Subs used: C Tierney for Collins, P O’Connor for Duggan (both half-time), C McGrath for Markham (55 mins).
WATERFORD: A Power; J Maher, S Fives, N Connors; P Mahony, S Daniels, D O’Sullivan; S Walsh, K Duggan; T Connors, P Murray, M Shanahan; B O’Sullivan, S Casey, T Ryan.
Subs used: J Gorman for Maher (34 mins), S Power for B O'Sullivan (51), D Twomey for T Connors (58).
Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork)