Waterford U21s demolish Clare en route to first Munster decider since 2009
Waterford 3-23 1-11 Clare
Waterford blitzed Clare either side of half time to reach their first Munster U21 hurling 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 major on 44 minutes. The hosts outgunned their opponents 3-13 to 0-2 during a marvellous second period.
Waterford bainsteoir Sean Power, who enjoyed All Ireland minor success three years ago, selected ten of last year’s team for this knockout tie. Austin Gleeson, Shane Bennett, Patrick Curran, Tom Devine and Conor Gleeson all featured in Sunday’s Munster final.
Clare were aiming to reach their fifth provincial final in a row and manager Donal Moloney could call on senior panellists David Fitzgerald, Bobby Duggan and Aron Shanagher.
The Banner played with the stiff breeze initially and raced 1-4 to 0-1 ahead after just nine minutes. Midfielder 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 quickly 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. 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 a brace as they trailed 1-9 to 0-10 at halfway.
Within twelve seconds of the restart, the speedy Michael 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. Power could afford to empty the bench as Peter Hogan and Jack Fagan tagged on late singles. They ended the hour on 3-15 from play.
The victors progress to the decider on July 27 where they will meet either Limerick or Tipperary.
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),
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary)