Bennett blast for Banner as U-21s lift Déise spirits
Waterford 3-23 Clare 1-11
Waterford blitzed Clare either side of half-time to reach their first Munster U-21 final since 2009 and rebound emphatically from Sunday's senior trimming to Tipperary.
The Déise shot 2-10 without reply to bury the Banner men in style and delight the Walsh Park faithful among the 4,126 in attendance. Stephen Bennett scored a stunning 2-3 from play with Patrick Curran, Austin Gleeson, Shane Bennett and Michael Kearney also in rampant form. Colm Roche finished the job with a third goal on 44 minutes. The hosts outgunned their opponents 3-13 to 0-2 during a marvellous second period.
The Banner played with the stiff breeze initially and raced 1-4 to 0-1 ahead after nine minutes. Kevin Hehir hit a brace of points before they rocked the hosts with a green flag. Ryan Taylor's run down the right wing teed up Colin Crehan who had a shot blocked down. Oisin Donnellan snapped the rebound and finished from close range.
Waterford replied with three unanswered points, two Patrick Curran frees and Michael Kearney from play, to narrow the gap to three. Clare restored that six-point cushion with David Conroy, O'Gorman, Shane Gleeson and Aron Shanagher on target (1-8 to 0-5).
Midfield duo Conroy and Hehir contributed 0-4 between them by the break. But the home team finished the half powerfully. Gleeson grew in stature and floated over a sideline. Curran caused trouble in the full-forward line and added two points as they trailed 1-9 to 0-10 at halfway.
Within 12 seconds of the restart, the speedy Kearney passed to Stephen Bennett who flashed to the net. The Bennett brothers both added points along with Curran and Tom Devine as they coasted six clear. Stephen Bennett blasted in a second on 37 minutes after he collected DJ Foran's delivery. Gleeson's second point made it 2-16 to 1-9 in favour of the hosts.
Bobby Duggan briefly halted the momentum from a free. Curran hit back with two frees before midfielder Roche put the nail in the coffin. Peter Hogan and Jack Fagan tagged on late points.
Waterford will meet Limerick or Tipperary in the July 27 decider.
Scorers - Waterford: Stephen Bennett 2-3, Patrick Curran 0-9 (7fs, 1 65), C Roche 1-0, Shane Bennett, A Gleeson, M O'Brien, M Kearney 0-2 each, P Hogan, J Fagan, T Devine 0-1 each. Clare: O Donnellan 1-0, D Conroy 0-3, K Hehir, B O'Gorman 0-2 each, S Gleeson, B Duggan (f), R Taylor, A Shanagher 0-1 each.
Waterford - J Henley; W Hahessy, C Gleeson, D Lyons; C Prunty, A Gleeson, M Harney; M O'Brien, M Kearney; DJ Foran, Shane Bennett, T Devine; P Curran, Stephen Bennett, C Roche.
Subs: A Farrell for Foran (42), P Hogan for Prunty (48), J Fagan for Kearney (52), R Brown for Shane Bennett (57), B O'Keeffe for A Gleeson (58).
Clare - D Vaughan; R Hayes, D Fitzgerald, C Cooney; J McCarthy, A McGuane, B O'Gorman; D Conroy, K Hehir; O Donnellan, B Duggan, S Gleeson; C Crehan, R Taylor, A Shanagher. Subs: S Taylor for Crehan (h-t), S Ward for Cooney (48), P O'Loughlin for Gleeson (41), P Fitzgerald for Donnellan (54), C Burke for Hehir (55).
Ref - F Horgan (Tipperary)