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Banner Book McGrath Cup Final Spot

Clare eased into a second successive McGrath Cup Final with a comfortable win over Waterford at the Gold Coast Resort in Dungarvan.

It’s after a strong performance saw the Banner win by 1-17 to 1-6 to set up another showdown with Cork in the decider.

Colm Collin’s outfit hit the ground running with Cian O’Dea opening the scoring with a fine point from distance before Gary Brennan converted a free after he was fouled on the edge of the square.

The two most impressive players on show combined soon after as Gavin Cooney picked out debutante Dermot Coughlan with a brilliant cross-field pass which the Kilmurry Ibrickane man finished to send Clare 0-3 to 0-0 clear as the clock hit the eight minute mark.

Cooney got in on the act himself just moments later after a good run down the right hand side before cutting in to finish from a tight angle. Coughlan landed his second soon after with Cathal O’Connor turning provider with another cross field ball for the former county minor captain to finish once more.

Dale Masterson was next to find the target after good work from the Eire Óg duo of Davy O’Halloran and Cooney saw him into space and he finished well from the left wing. Kieran Malone added Clare’s seventh soon after with a brilliant point from the right hand side, before Gary Brennan won a mark close to goal and finished the resultant free to leave Clare 0-8 to 0-0 ahead with ten minutes to go to the break.

Coughlan and Cooney were involved again just before the half-hour mark as some good inter-change play saw Conal O hAinifein put through on goal. He made no mistake with an emphatic finish to the back of the net to effectively end the game as a contest.

Waterford did hit the last two scores of the half through Conor Murray and James McGrath but at the break it was Clare well in control as they led by 1-8 to 0-2.

The Deise struck first after the restart through a Brian Lynch free, but Clare owned the next 15 minutes. The Banner reeled off five points in a row with Cooney on target twice from play and once from a free, while there were also scores for Gearoid O’Brien and Davy O’Halloran. That saw Clare lead by 1-13 to 0-4 inside the closing quarter.

Waterford continued to push for scores and were rewarded when Conor Murray slotted his second. Two more debutantes got in on the scoring act for Clare as Niall Ellis pointed and Gearoid Cahill won and converted a free soon after their introduction.

Brian Lynch and Davy O’Halloran then swapped points before Clare goalkeeper Rob Eyres was called into action to deflect away a ball played dangerously across the square.

Waterford did get their green flag just moments later as Donie Fitzgerald powered home with Stephen Curry adding a point soon after.

The last word came from the Clare men though as Darragh Bohannon got his name on the score-sheet to see Clare into the decider next weekend.

Clare: Rob Eyres (Kildysart); Kevin Hartnett (Meelick), Cillian Brennan (Clondegad), Jayme O’Sullivan (Wolfe Tones); Conal O hAinifein (Eire Og), Dean Ryan (Eire Og), Dale Masterson (St Breckan’s); Daragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen); Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora), David O’Halloran (Eire Og), Dermot Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Gavin Cooney (Eire Og), Gary Brennan (Clondegad) (c), Kieran Malone (St Joseph’s Miltown).

Subs: Alan Sweeney (St Breckan’s) for Masterson, Niall Ellis (Shannon Gaels) for Coughlan, Gearoid Cahill (Corofin) for Cooney, Danny Griffin (Eire Og) for Gary Brennan, Gearoid O’Brien (Kilrush) for Malone.

Clare scorers: Gavin Cooney (0-4, 1f), Conal O hAinifein (1-0), Dermot Coughlan, David O’Halloran (0-2 each), Gary Brennan (0-2, 2f), Dale Masterson, Kieran Malone, Cian O’Dea, Gearoid O’Brien, Niall Ellis and Daragh Bohannon (0-1 each), Gearoid Cahill (0-1, 1f).

Yellow cards: Gearoid O’Brien and Cian O’Dea

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