Munster Senior Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
Clare 1-22 Waterford 0-21
A FIRST Munster victory under Brian Lohan as Clare hit the ground running in this year’s championship to stun Waterford into submission in Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday afternoon, reports Eoin Brennan.
Leading from start to finish, Clare should have eased to a much more convincing triumph after having almost 50 shots at the posts in a dominant display. However, digging out the result by whatever means possible was the most important aspect for a new-look Banner who got revenge for being knocked out of the All-Ireland series by the same opponents last September.
As with every championship match in 2020, Clare kept their opponents defence on their toes with regards to the positioning of talisman Tony Kelly, with Lohan and Co. making the brave call of placing the current All-Star at the edge of the square for the entire 70 minutes.
Without the target of Shane O’Donnell, it would prove a pivotal part of Clare’s victory as Kelly raided for 1-12 alongside impressive performances from Aidan McCarthy and Ryan Taylor.
Captain John Conlon, in his first championship outing in two years, was equally influential from his new berth at centre-back as Clare hit the first four points, three from Kelly, and quickly pulled 0-7 to 0-1 clear of the Deise by the 11th minute.
Unfortunately, despite peppering Billy Nolan’s posts, Clare would miss as much as they would score, a profligacy which kept Waterford in touch mainly through Stephen Bennett and Austin Gleeson at the sides went into the first water break at 0-7 to 0-3.
Indeed, Clare only held a three point cushion entering the final ten minutes of the half which didn’t seem enough considering that they had played all the hurling. However, the Banner would get a timely shot in the arm when Aron Shanagher was struck by Shane Fives on his way to goal in the 27th minute, with referee Colm Lyons issuing a penalty for Clare and a ten minute sinbinning for aggressor Shane Fives.
Tony Kelly duly dispatched the penalty to the bottom left corner of the net and would add a brace of frees allied to points through Ryan Taylor and David Reidy to soar 1-13 to 0-07 clear by the midway mark.
The third quarter rather dipped in quality but that certainly didn’t perturb Clare who simply matched Waterford blow-for-blow, thanks in the main to free swapping from Kelly and Bennett, to protect their nine point margin by the final water break at 1-18 to 0-12.
Waterford rallied coming down the final straight after been re-energised by four points from their bench. And with Clare eventually tallying 22 wides, it did get incrementally nervy as Waterford eventually slashed the arrears to just three by the 69th minute.
The insurance point inevitably stemmed from the irrepressible Kelly in the 71st minute and it would be a major relief as they had to contend with a last gasp Stephen Bennett bullet that had to take a combination of John Conlon and goalkeeper Eibhear Quilligan to repel.
Clare deservedly march on to the Munster Semi-Finals where they will renew acquaintances with neighbours Tipperary next Sunday in the LIT Gaelic Grounds (3.45pm).
Clare: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle); Paul Flanagan (Ballyea), Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones); Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), John Conlon (Clonlara) (Captain), Paidi Fitzpatrick (Sixmilebridge); Colm Galvin (Clonlara), Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge); Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona), David Reidy (Éire Óg), Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin); Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones), Tony Kelly (Ballyea), Ian Galvin (Clonlara)
Subs: David McInerney (Tulla) for Fitzpatrick (50), David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona) for I. Galvin (57), Mark Rodgers (Scariff) for Reidy (60), Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge) for McCarthy (70)
Scorers: Tony Kelly (1-12, 1-0 Pen, 7f); Aidan McCarthy (0-3); Ryan Taylor, David Reidy (0-2 each); Diarmuid Ryan, Cathal Malone, Ian Galvin (0-1 each)
Waterford: Billy Nolan; Conor Gleeson, Calum Lyons, Shane Fives; Shane McNulty, Iarlaith Daly, Austin Gleeson; Kevin Moran, Darragh Lyons; Jack Fagan, Peter Hogan, Jack Prendergast; Dessie Hutchison, Stephen Bennett, Shane Bennett
Subs: Kieran Bennett for Moran (33), Patrick Curran for Fagan (44), Neil Montgomery for Prendergast (46), Billy Power for D. Lyons (52), Mikey Kearney for Hogan (62)
Scorers: Stephen Bennett (0-11, 9f); Austin Gleeson (0-5, 1f); Kieran Bennett, Neil Montgomery, Patrick Curran, Mikey Kearney, Calum Lyons (0-1 each)
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)