Clare 1-22 Waterford 2-21
A great finish, during which they out-scored Clare by 1-5 to 0-2 in the final 15 minutes, rescued Waterford in a brilliant contest in sun-splashed Ennis.
It earned them a place in next weekend’s Allianz hurling League quarter-finals while Clare face a 1A relegation play-off against Dublin.
It was bitterly disappointing for Clare, who seemed to be well in command when leading by 1-20 to 1-16 after 55 minutes.
Playing with the wind, they had developed a tidy rhythm which left Waterford struggling to cope.
However, the defiant Deise men refused to yield, instead digging in for a big finish.
They delivered a phenomenal work rate in the closing stages, gradually overpowering Clare, who lost the lead in the 64th minute when Waterford sub, Tom Devine scored a goal.
It proved the tie-breaker for while Clare battled hand to rescue the situation, Waterford’s defence held out.
Clare led by 1-13 to 1-11 at half-time, a scoreline that looked most unlikely when a great start by Waterford left them leading by 1-4 to 0-1 after 11 minutes, the goal coming from Shane Bennett in the fifth minute.
Clare gradually settled into the contest, with Podge Collins pointing twice for what was the start of a scoring blitz, which yielded an unanswered 1-6. Collins struck a superb goal and by the 17th minute, the home side led by 1-7 to 1-4.
Some of Clare’s movement in that period was first class, with Collins and Aaron Shanagher especially enterprising.
Clare moved five points clear after 27 minutes but Waterford made good progress on the run-in towards half-time, with three pointed free from Pauric Mahony cutting the deficit to two points.
Scorers: Waterford P Mahony 0-10 (8f), Shane Bennett, T Devine 1-1 each, Stephen Bennett 0-3, A Gleeson, B O’Halloran 0-2 each, P Curran, T Ryan 0-1 each.
Clare: T Kelly 0-7 (5f), P Collins 1-3, C McInerney. J Conlon, A Shanagher 0-2 each, I Galvin, D McInerney, J Shanahan, D Fitzgerald, J McCarthy,B Duggan 0-1 each.
Clare: A Fahy; D McInerney, C Dillon, S Morey; J McCarthy, C Cleary, D Fitzgerald; J Shanahan, T Kelly; C Malone, P Collins, J Conlon; C McInerney, A Shanagher, I Galvin.
Subs: A Cunningham for I Galvin (56), P Donnellan for McCarthy (65), C Galvin for Malone (65)), B Duggan for McInerney (68), P Flanagan for D McInerney (75).
Waterford: S O’Keeffe; S Fives, B Coughlan, S McNulty; S Daniels, T DeBurca, C Gleeson; A Gleeson, K Moran; Stephen Bennett, M Walsh, P Mahony; B O’Halloran, Shane Bennett, P Curran.
Subs: T Devine for Curran (42), M Kearney for A Gleeson (56), T Ryan for O’Halloran (58), G O’Brien for Shane Bennett (68), S Roche for Coughlan (75).
Ref - J Keenan (Wicklow)
Plenty of teams are jockeying for position on the final day of the National Hurling League, while there is also plenty of football action to enjoy. Follow all the action in our liveblog:
A crossroads moment, one of those sometimes billed as a moment of truth, faced Cork hurlers in the Munster Championship against Waterford two years ago. Five weeks earlier Waterford, having skipped out of Division 1B, outplayed them in the league final and reheated the debate around Cork's head-wrecking inconsistency. Not just game-to-game inconsistency but within games themselves; half to half, quarter to quarter; they could change in the blink of an eye.