Saturday 24 August 2019

Clare edge it as Waterford come close

Clare 0-9 Waterford 0-8

Clare manager Colm Collins, left, and Waterford manager Beni Whelan shake hands following the match. Photo: Sportsfile
Clare manager Colm Collins, left, and Waterford manager Beni Whelan shake hands following the match. Photo: Sportsfile
Gary Brennan of Clare scores a free. Photo: Sportsfile

Waterford haven't won a Munster championship game since they beat Clare in 2010 but they came desperately close to repeating that victory last night.

Seemingly cruising into a Munster semi-final with Kerry, Clare stopped playing football in the second half and didn't score after the 39th minute. Sniffing the win, Waterford charged out of their defensive set-up and scored the last six points of the game, but they just fell short.

Without a breath of wind to be felt at a sun-drenched Cusack Park, it was the perfect evening for championship football, but the sides dealt up a dour opening half. Waterford operated with one man up front when they didn't have the ball and everyone else swarmed back to protect the exclusion zone, while Clare kept two players in their full-forward line at all times. It resulted in a frustrating game to watch for the 2,136 spectators.

Eoin Cleary did light up the game on a couple of occasions, though. He had given Clare the lead with a pair of frees in the third and fourth minutes, and his long-range points in the 14th and 16th minutes came from either wing as he grew tired of trying to unpick the tight Waterford defensive line.

Shane Ahearne got Waterford off the mark with a free in the 19th minute, but with Cleary and Jamie Malone on song, Clare soon led by 0-7 to 0-1.

On a rare Déise jaunt forward Conor Murray pointed brilliantly from the right to close the gap to five ten minutes from the interval, but Dean Ryan's point at the end of the move of the match gave Clare a 0-8 to 0-2 lead at half-time. Malone stretched the advantage after the break, but a free from sub Dessie Hutchinson and Murray's good score from the right soon made it 0-9 to 0-4.

Even at that stage there seemed to be no danger for Clare, but another Hutchinson free was followed by a great score on the run from Tadhg Ó hUallacháin to cut the lead to three.

A minute later Hutchinson pointed from long range, and in added-time he closed the gap to one, but Waterford couldn't get the all-important leveller.

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Scorers - Clare: E Cleary 0-6 (3f), J Malone 0-2, D Ryan 0-1. Waterford: C Murray, D Hutchinson (2f), JJ Hutchinson 0-2 each, S Ahearne (f), T Ó hUallacháin 0-1.

Clare: S Ryan; K Harnett, C Brennan, G Kelly; D Ryan, A Fitzgerald, S Collins; G Brennan, D Bohannon; K Malone, E Cleary, J Malone; C Murray, G Cooney, C O'Dea.

Subs: G O'Brien for K Malone (h-t), C Ó hAiniféin for Cooney (48), C O'Connor for Bohannon (58, BC), D Masterson for Murray (65), D O'Halloran for S Collins (72).

Waterford: D Mulhearne; J McGrath, R O Ceallaigh, S O'Donovan; T O hUallachain, S Ryan, B Looby; S Ahearne, T Prendergast; C Murray, D Guiry, S Whelan-Barrett; J Mullaney, F O Cuirrin, M Curry. Subs: D Hutchinson for Whelan-Barrett (35), JJ Hutchinson for Mullaney (48),

D Fitzgerald for Ó Cuirrin (65), J Curry for Guiry (68), B O'Keeffe for Ó hUallacháin (70), B Lynch for Murray (74).

Referee: B Cawley (Kildare).

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