By Seamus Hayes, sports editor.
Clare 5-18, Waterford 0-20
WITH just one round to play in the 2014 group stage of the Allianz Hurling League, Clare sit on top of division 1 A and are safely through to the play-offs.
A 13 point win over Waterford at Cusack Park has sent the Bannermen through to the quarter finals and ensured that they will not be involved in the relegation play off to determine who will drop down to division 1 B for next season.
Scoring 4-14 without reply in a blistering twenty five minute spell in the opening half against Waterford, the All-Ireland champions left Waterford reeling when the teams clashed before an attendance of 7, 352 at the Clare headquarters.
With All-Ireland heroes Shane O’Donnell, Podge Collins and Domhnaill O’Donovan in superb form, Waterford had no answers to Clare’s play in that opening period at the end of which the Bannermen were 4-15 to 0-4 in front. The game marked O’Donovan’s first league appearance this season, while Collins and O’Donnell have had only limited game time up to this point.
There was nothing to indicate what was ahead when the visitors raced into a two point lead inside the first five minutes, both scores coming from Padraic O’Mahony frees.
From the moment Cratloe clubmates, Conor McGrath and Podge Collins combined for Collins to open Clare’s account in the fifth minute, the floodgates opened and score followed score as Clare dictated matters. All-Ireland final hat trick hero Shane O’Donnell caused all sorts of problems for the Waterford defence and he provided the pass for team captain Pat Donnellan to fire home the game’s first goal in the 14th minute.
He was the provided again seven minutes later, this time for Podge Collins who found the net before the Ennis man hit Clare’s third goal after taking a pass from Conor McGrath in the 27th minute. Goal number four came three minutes later and again O’Donnell played a key role providing the pass to Peter Duggan who applied the finish.
After Waterford had hit five unanswered points in the opening seven minutes of the second half, O’Donnell struck for his second and Clare’s fifth goal, a score which put a dent in the visitor’s comeback hopes.
While Waterford did have the better of matters in the second period, there was never any danger of them getting ahead of the Banner side who had victory sealed long before the final whistle.
;–Donal Tuohy; Domhnaill O’Donovan, Cian Dillon, David McInerney; Brendan Bugler (0-1) Conor Ryan (0-1) Pat O’Connor (0-1); Pat Donnellan (1-0) Colin Ryan (0-6), 5 frees; John Conlon, Podge Collins (1-2) Peter Duggan (1-1); Cathal McInerney (0-2) Shane O’Donnell (2-2) Conor McGrath (0-1)
; Tony Kelly (0-1) for Conlon (29 minutes); Paul Flanagan for Dillon (60 minutes); Shane Golden for Colin Ryan (63 minutes) David Reidy for McGrath (67 minutes); Cathal O’Connell for C. McInerney (70 minutes)
;–Stephen O’Keeffe; Tadhg de Burce, Shane Fives, Noel Connors; Jamie Nagle, Kevin Moran, Philip Mahony; Jake Dillon, Shane O’Sullivan; Ray Barry, Pauric O’Mahony (0-8), 7 frees, Stephen Molumphy (0-2); Ryan Donnelly (0-1) Seamus Prendergast, Brian O’Sullivan (0-4).
—Maurice Shanahan (0-3) for Barry (25 minutes) Barry Coughlan for Fives (26 minutes); Stephen Roche (0-1) for Donnelly (45 minutes); Killian Fitzgerald for Pauric Mahony (60 minutes) Shane McNulty for Nagle (63 minutes)
Referee—J. McGrath, Westmeath