Clare notch first Munster SHC win in five years

Clare 2-20 Waterford 1-15

Clare notch first Munster SHC win in five years

Clare 2-20 Waterford 1-15

Shane O'Donnell and Conor McGrath swooped for second half goals as Clare beat Waterford 2-20 to 1-15 for their first Munster SHC win since 2008.

Davy Fitzgerald's charges dominated the closing stages in Thurles, with Brendan Bugler and Colm Galvin particularly impressive.

Jake Dillon's eighth-minute goal, allied to Maurice Shanahan's four-point haul, gave the Déise a 1-9 to 0-8 interval lead.

But with Championship debutant O'Donnell (55 minutes) and McGrath (62) both finding the net, the Banner men progressed.

Waterford lined out as selected, with Under-21 players Paudie Prendergast, Jamie Barron and Dillon making their Championship bows.

Clare, with their own sprinkling of young SHC newcomers, drafted in Darach Honan and Cian Dillon for Padraic Collins and Conor Ryan respectively before the throw-in, moving Seadna Morey to midfield in the process.

Colin Ryan rifled over a central ‘65’ to move Clare ahead in the third minute, swiftly followed by a driven John Conlon effort from the right.

Clare’s spritely start continued with Conlon breaking free of Kevin Moran’s clutches for his second point from play, and Tony Kelly profited from a neat Colm Galvin set-up to make it 0-4 to 0-0.

But Waterford burst into life with an eighth minute goal. Clare captain Patrick Donnellan failed to clear his lines and Dillon gobbled up possession to race through and his low, well-placed shot gave goalkeeper Patrick Kelly little chance.

Dillon then capitalised on some loose defending by Domhnall O’Donovan to draw the Déise level. As the tempo quickened, Honan edged Clare back in front by the 12th minute.

Nerves were evident as Kelly, Ryan and Waterford free-taker Mahony struck wides, before the experienced Seamus Prendergast plundered an excellent point from centre-field.

It remained nip and tuck as Ryan (free) and Mahony traded scores, but Waterford edged ahead for the first time in the 21st minute as the influential Jamie Nagle fed Shanahan, who rose over David McInerney and pointed brilliantly on the turn.

The 20-year-old McInerney had been doing well to keep Shanahan quiet at full-forward, however Shanahan then won and pointed a free to open up a 1-5 to 0-6 lead.

Another fine catch from Shanahan led to a free on Paudie Prendergast with the former duly lobbing over his third point on the trot.

Jamie Barron opened his account with a well-struck effort as the half hour approached, with Clare’s Morey, who was nursing an elbow injury in the lead up to this game, replaced by Championship debutant Peter Duggan.

Both sides were guilty of sloppy play at times, which was understandable given their lack of recent competitive action, and the Banner men ended their 15-minute scoreless spell through Conlon.

The margin was widened to four points as a poor Clare puck-out by punished by an ever-alert Moran and although Kelly replied from a tight angle, Shanahan closed out the first half by clipping over a late free.

Waterford’s half-back line, marshalled by Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh and Nagle, was growing in influence and their effective use of possession was giving Shanahan and others the opportunity to make it count.

Clare’s danger men up front were being starved of possession and Conlon, their most potent forward, blew a goal-scoring chance with a wayward hand-pass to Honan.

The quality of hurling continued to drop during a lacklustre start to the second period, a scoreless eight minutes doing little for either team’s confidence.

But a smashing run and point from Kelly lifted Clare and a subsequent Ryan free, following good play from O’Donnell, cut the gap to 1-9 to 0-10.

It was back to a one-point game after Ryan converted two frees in response to Shanahan’s fifth of the day, and another close range strike from Ryan had Clare level in the 51st minute.

Shanahan re-established Waterford’s lead from a placed ball, but Michael Ryan’s side were beginning to waiver as the young Banner side made their mark.

Honan swung over a lovely point from the right and as Waterford’s wides tally increased to 13, Clare continued to prosper.

Kelly went for goal from a close range free, his full-blooded shot was batted away but an immediate Duggan block gave teenager O’Donnell the opportunity to fire home the lead goal at 1-14 to 1-11.

The 18-year-old O’Donnell barely had time to celebrate his score before he was called ashore and replaced by Padraic Collins. Honan’s third point of the afternoon followed to underline Clare’s sudden dominance.

Shanahan answered back from a placed ball, but once a high ball broke for McGrath to find the bottom left corner of the Waterford net, Clare were home and hosed.

Substitute Gavin O’Brien, Dillon and Seamus Prendergast, who improvised impressively after a blundered free from Shanahan, kept Waterford in the hunt with points in the final 10 minutes.

However, with the Bugler-led defence tightening up significantly, Clare broke forward for a string of late scores - Kelly and substitute Fergal Lynch both claimed one, young midfielder Galvin hit a stylish brace from distance and free-taker Ryan topped off his seven-point contribution.

The manner of Clare’s finish gave their supporters in the 12,103-strong crowd plenty of encouragement for the next day out, however Fitzgerald was already talking afterwards of the improvements needed for the June 23 semi-final clash with Cork.

CLARE: Patrick Kelly; Domhnall O'Donovan, David McInerney, Cian Dillon; Brendan Bugler, Patrick Donnellan (capt), Patrick O'Connor; Colm Galvin (0-2), Seadna Morey; John Conlon (0-3), Tony Kelly (0-4), Colin Ryan (0-7, 0-6f, 0-1 ‘65’); Darach Honan (0-3), Shane O'Donnell (1-0), Conor McGrath (1-0).

Subs used: Peter Duggan for Morey (29 mins), Padraic Collins for O’Donnell (55), Fergal Lynch (0-1) for Duggan (68).

WATERFORD: Ian O'Regan; Darragh Fives, Liam Lawlor, Noel Connors; Jamie Nagle, Michael Walsh, Paudie Prendergast; Shane O'Sullivan, Kevin Moran (capt) (0-1); Maurice Shanahan (0-7, 0-6f), Seamus Prendergast (0-2), Brian O'Halloran; Jamie Barron (0-1), Pauric Mahony (0-1), Jake Dillon (1-2).

Subs used: Ray Barry for O’Halloran (17 mins), Gavin O’Brien (0-1) for Barron (56), Martin O’Neill for Mahony (63).

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)

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