Clare failed to score after the 39th minute as they scraped past Waterford
Clare 0-9 Waterford 0-8
Waterford haven’t won a Munster championship game since 2010 but they came desperately close to repeating that win over Clare nine years ago at Cusack Park tonight.
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 the sun drenched Cusack Park, it was the perfect evening of championship football, but unfortunately the fare couldn’t match the conditions as both 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 in Cusack Park, where possession was king.
Eoin Cleary did light up the first-half on a couple of occasions though. He had given Clare the lead with a pair of frees in the third and fourth minutes, but 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.
Waterford’s main hope for scores at that point was from Shane Aherane and he converted his second shot on goal as Waterford got off the mark 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 sally forward Conor Murray pointed brilliantly from the right to close the gap to five points 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.
Jamie Malone stretched Clare’s lead 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 Dessie Hutchinson free was followed by a great score on the run from Tadhg Ó hUallacháin to cut the lead to three. A minute later JJ Hutchinson pointed from long range for Waterford, and in added-time he closed the gap to one, but Waterford fell short.
Scorers: Clare: E Cleary 0-6 (0-3f), J Malone 0-2, D Ryan 0-1
Waterford: C Murray 0-2, D Hutchinson 0-2 (0-2f), JJ Hutchinson 0-2, S Ahearne 0-1 (1f), 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 (half-time), C Ó hAiniféin for Cooney (48),
C O’Connor for Bohannan (58, black), 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: Brendan Cawley (Kildare).