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Crystal-clear season debut for Clare

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Paddy Vaughan of Clare pressured by Ray Moloughney of Waterford IT.  Photograph by Declan Monaghan

Clare  0-15   Waterford IT  1-9

NEW Clare hurling boss Ger O’Loughlin got his inter-county career as a manager off to a winning start at Meelick on Sunday when his charges accounted for Waterford IT in the opening round of the Waterford Crystal tournament.

Despite the fact that the squad has only been together for the past three weeks, during which they have been unable to get in any hurling practice because of the inclement weather conditions, Clare looked quite sharp.
That they wanted to impress and progress to the next round was evident from the word go and the home side recorded a merited win to set up a second-round clash with Tipperary, in what will be a repeat of last year’s final.
Supporters in the good sized attendance were pleased with the performance on a day when Cian Dillon, Domhnall O’Donovan, Ogie Murphy, John Conlon and Aonghus O’Brien were amongst those to impress. Indeed, O’Donovan put in a match-saving tackle in the second minute of injury time, as Waterford IT captain Fintan O’Leary looked set to score an equalising goal.
There was little between the sides for much of this entertaining tie. They were level three times in the opening quarter before Clare edged ahead to lead 0-7 to 0-6,  at the halfway point.
Clare made the better start in the second half and dominated the opening 10 minutes, during which time they added five points while conceding just one. With a five-point advantage at this stage, it appeared that they were about to pull away for a comfortable win but Waterford had other ideas.
With just one point to their credit in the opening 20 minutes of this half, they struck a purple patch 10 minutes from time and in the space of two minutes, they wiped out Clare’s five-point lead. Skipper Fintan O’Leary pointed in the 20th minute and this was quickly followed by a like score from Timmy Hammersley, who then turned provider for his team mate Ray Moloughney, who scored the game’s only goal with eight minutes remaining.
With the sides now level for the fourth time in the contest, the momentum appeared to be with the visitors but Clare responded impressively.
Two pointed frees by substitute Mark Flaherty, the second after another substitute John Cusack won possession from a Philip Brennan puck-out, saw the home side take back the initiative. Flaherty had earlier missed a great goal chance which came after a Colin Ryan effort for a goal had been saved by Adrian Power.
In the first minute of injury time, Flaherty had another goal opportunity but this time, his effort was deflected behind for a 65’, which he converted to put three points between the teams. Waterford still weren’t prepared to give up and they came storming back to mount one last attack. It looked to have paid off when their captain, Fintan O’Leary, found himself in possession inside the 20m line but Domhnall O’Donovan put in a tremendous tackle and as Clare cleared the danger, the final whistle sounded.
Last season’s U-21 stars Cian Dillon and Domhnall O’Donovan impressed in defence, while Gerry Quinn also got through a lot of good work. Elsewhere, Aonghus O’Brien, John Conlon and Ogie Murphy worked hard as did Colin Ryan, who was the team’s top scorer. O’Brien and Murphy finished the game as the winners’ midfield partnership.
The decision to select Gerry O’Grady at centre-forward surprised some followers. The Crusheen man has played in attack in the past but most of his inter-county hurling has been as a defender and it will be interesting to see how he does in the coming weeks as a forward.
Newmarket’s Enda Barrett, another of the stars in Clare’s All-Ireland U-21 success, lined out at centre-back for Waterford IT and turned in an impressive display. He has withdrawn from the Clare panel to concentrate on his college commitments

Clare: Philip Brennan (Tulla); Pat Vaughan (Crusheen), Cian Dillon (Crusheen), Alan Brigdale (Crusheen); Domhnall O’Donovan (Clonlara), Brian O’Connell (Wolfe Tones, captain), Gerry Quinn (Corofin); Pat Donnellan (O’Callaghan’s Mills), Diarmuid McMahon (Kilmaley); John Conlon (Clonlara), Gerry O’Grady (Crusheen), Aonghus O’Brien (Broadford); Martin ‘Ogie’ Murphy (Cratloe), Fergal Lynch (Clooney-Quin), Colin Ryan (Newmarket).
Subs: Mark Flaherty (Killanena) for McMahon (38 minutes); David Barrett (Newmarket) for Donnellan (46 minutes); John Cusack (Smith O’Brien’s) for Ryan (49 minutes) and Alan Markham (Kilmaley) for O’Grady (57 minutes).
Scorers: Colin Ryan (0-5), 3 frees; Mark Flaherty (0-3), 2 frees, 1 65’; John Conlon, Aonghus O’Brien (0-2 each); Gerry Quinn and Ogie Murphy, Fergal Lynch (0-1 each).
Frees for: 14; wides: 10; 65s’:1.
Yellow cards: Aonghus O’Brien (20 minutes); Fergal Lynch (37 minutes), David Barrett (49 minutes); Ogie Murphy (54 minutes).
Waterford IT: Adrian Power (Waterford); Brendan Kenny(Galway), Wayne Hutchinson (Waterford), Noel Connors (Waterford); Shane Fives (Waterford), Enda Barrett (Newmarket), PJ Rowe (Kilkenny); Kieran Grehan (Kilkenny), Mark Molloy (Wexford); James Gahan (Wexford), Fintan O’Leary (Cork, captain), Ronan Good (Cork); Ray Moloughney (Tipperary), Timmy Hammersley (Tipperary), Stephen Power (Waterford).
Subs: Barry Johnston (Cork) for S Power and Willie O’Dwyer (Tipperary) for Grehan.
Scorers: Ray Moloughney (1-2), 0-1 free; Timmy Hammersley (0-4), 2 frees; Fintan O’Leary (0-2); Kieran Grehan (0-1).
Frees for: 14; wides:13.
Bookings: Fintan O’Leary (45 minutes) and Ronan Good (54 minutes).
Referee: Cathal McAllister, Cork.

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