McGrath Cup: Clare 3-14 Waterford 3-7
The 359 hardy souls who filed through the gates of Hennessey Park were treated to a game that had all the hallmarks of the dead rubber that it was.
Clare were full value for the win after owning the second period but it was little more than a glorified challenge game with little or no intensity throughout. That was summed in the manner in which Clare conceded two goals in as many minutes midway through the opening half as Waterford punished sloppy turnovers from the home side. It saw Benji Whelan’s side stretch 2-3 to 0-2 ahead after 22 minutes and there were few could argue that it was a lead they did not deserve.
The first shot back in anger did arrive with 10 minutes to go to the break, as Cian O’Dea followed up his Oscar Traynor heroics with another goal. It came at the end of a well-worked move as Gordon Kelly and Darren O’Neill combined to tee up the Kilfenora man who saw his shot fly into the top right corner. Clare failed to build on that as two Jason Curry points were answered by a Gavin Cooney free to leave Waterford 2-5 to 1-4 ahead at the break.
It was a much sharper and driven Clare that emerged back out for the second half and by the time the next Waterford score arrived, there were only two minutes of normal time to play. By then, Clare had reeled off 2-6 without reply to take control of proceedings. Eire Óg’s Gavin Cooney was the man who finished both goals with the first arriving within seconds of the restart as he palmed home from close range after good work from Dermot Coughlan. Coughlan was involved in the second as he intercepted an attempted short kick-out before laying off to Eoin Cleary. The Miltown man slipped through Cooney and once his finish found the net, Clare never looked back as they moved into the lead for the first time in the game. A late Waterford goal only served to put a better complexion on the scoreline with Clare outscoring their visitors 0-3 to 0-1 in reply to surge clear.
The focus of this year’s McGrath Cup was on running the rule over the panel, with only Cathal O’Connor retaining his place from last week’s loss to Limerick. Jack Sheedy and Jack Morrissey both impressed on their starting debuts while Dale Masterson’s performance when moved to midfield was another real positive. Gearoid O’Brien and Dermot Coughlan were both prominent throughout while Cian O’Dea offered plenty attacking threat from the half-back line.
Clare: Nathan Murray (Eire Óg); Jack Sheedy (St Breckan’s), Cillian Brennan (Clondegad), Gordon Kelly (Miltown St Joseph’s, C); Alan Sweeney (St Breckan’s), Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora), Sean Collins (Cratloe); David Lernihan (Kilmihil), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen); Dale Masterson (St Breckan’s), Gearoid O’Brien (Kilrush Shamrocks), Dermot Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Gavin Cooney (Eire Óg), Darren O’Neill (St Olaf’s, Dublin), Jack Morrissey (Cooraclare).
Subs: Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare) for O’Dea, Eoin Cleary (Miltown St Joseph’s) for Lernihan, David Tubridy (Doonbeg) for Cooney, Emmet McMahon (Kildysart) for O’Neill), Kieran O’Brien (Kildysart) for Sweeney.
Scorers: Gavin Cooney (2-2, 2f), Gearoid O’Brien (0-3), Jack Morrissey (0-3, 1f), Eoin Cleary (0-3, 1f), Cian O’Dea (1-0), Dermot Coughlan and Dale Masterson (0-1 each), David Tubridy (0-1, 1f).
Ref: James Bermingham (Cork).