Clare stormed into the Munster U21 Hurling final with a stunning display over a highly fancied Waterford outfit, Páraic McMahon reports from Cusack Park.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis.
A Munster Final awaits the Banner’s U21 Hurlers on July 30th after they saw off the challenge of Waterford thanks to serious grit, workrate and the class of Bobby Duggan and Ian Galvin up front.
Prior to the game, Waterford were tipped by many to emerge victorious and they took the lead with over a minute played thanks to Shane Bennett. Bobby Duggan with successive points on the trot put Clare in front. Patrick Curran pointed from an acute angle on the sixth minute and the Déise regained the lead when an unmarked Austin Gleeson tapped over from the middle of the park.
Clarecastle’s Duggan slotted over his first free of the evening on the seventh minute after Ian Galvin was fouled. Patrick Curran replied with a placed ball from the 65 spot. Duggan was on target once more from a free to level matters only for a free Austin Gleeson to launch a super score between the posts on the eleventh minute.
Gleeson picked out DJ Foran with an inch perfect sideline cut with thirteen minutes played and the Portlaw man brushed past David Fitzgerald to point off his right-hand side. Curran added two more frees for Derek Lyons’ men while Duggan chipped in with a point after Ian Galvin obtained possession from Waterford’s Michéal Harney and handpassed to the waiting Duggan.
Mount Sion’s Austin Gleeson extended Waterford’s advantage to four points with nineteen minutes gone. Clare fought back with three successive scores; Bobby Duggan working in his own half of the field disposed his counterpart and picked out Galvin who raised a white flag. Straight from the puckout, captain Conor Cleary won possession in the air and handpassed to the energetic David Conroy whose cross-field pass found Ryan Taylor and the Clooney/Quin man slotted over. Duggan hit over a free on the twenty second minute after Gleeson was penalised for over-carrying.
Wing-back Michéal Kearney opened his account on the twenty fifth minute with a point from distance but Donal Moloney’s charges responded with a Bobby Duggan free. Patrick Curran and Shane Gleeson exchanged scores to leave the visitors ahead by the minimum at the break.
It was a case of starting as they meant to go on for Clare in the second half as they hit the first three scores inside the opening six minutes. Shane Gleeson and Conor Cleary set up the brilliant Duggan for the first score, Galvin pointed from his opponents 45 while Aidan McGuane set the Park alight with a thundering score from his own half of the field.
With thirty seven minutes played Austin Gleeson got Waterford’s score of the half from a placed ball. Duggan replied for Clare a minute later. Excellent movement was showcased as Ben O’Gorman offloaded to David Conroy whose astute handpass fell into the hands of Eoin Quirke and he sent the sliotar between the sticks from the middle of the park and the gap was extended to four when Ian Galvin slotted over.
A blistering two minute spell saw Waterford overturn the lead. Senior stars Gleeson and Colin Dunford pointed before Patrick Curran turned Shane O’Brien and batted the sliotar to the left of Keith Hogan for the only goal of the game on the forty second minute.
It was here when Clare stood firm with efforts from Galvin and Duggan putting them two clear. Curran and Duggan swapped frees before unmarked substitute Cathal Curran pointed on the twenty second minute. Patrick Curran added a free but Duggan went one better by hitting over two. The NUIG student was on hand once more as he fielded possession and passed to Galvin who duly obliged with a point. The visitors had a goal chance but Austin Gleeson’s 21m free was saved by Inagh/Kilnamona’s David Fitzgerald. A 65 from Shane Bennett went over Keith Hogan’s crossbar and signalled Clare’s place in the Munster Final.
As they reflect on this defeat, Waterford may feel they didn’t show Clare enough respect going into the tie and so didn’t expect such a battle. Fatigue wasn’t an issue and the Déise will admit it, they lacked the hunger that Clare showed in abundance. Colin Dunford has been one of the breakthrough hurlers of 2015 yet Waterford failed to find a way to bring him more into the game. Their last Munster U21 Championship Final win was in 1994 and while many expected they would that taste Munster success they were outclassed by Clare. Conor Gleeson impressed at corner back while Patrick Curran caused constant trouble with Austin Gleeson showing signs of his brilliance.
With just five players who featured in the 2014 All-Ireland win lining out for Clare, there was a fear they might let both their Munster and All-Ireland titles slip. This Clare team showed no fear and an astounding workrate with constant turnovers enabling them to put points on the board and frustrate their opponents. Bobby Duggan put in his greatest display in a Clare jersey hitting 0-13 over the hour, Ian Galvin added flair to attack with six points from pla while Aidan McGuane showed serious character in defence. While this was a fantastic win, Moloney’s men have nothing won yet and they will need to supply Shane O’Donnell with more ball to secure victory in the final.
Clare: Keith Hogan (Clooney/Quin); Shane O’Brien (Clonlara) (0-01), David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona), Eoin Quirke (Whitegate); Aidan McGuane (Kilmaley) (0-01), Conor Cleary (St. Joseph’s Miltown Malbay), Ben O’Gorman (Wolfe Tones); David Conroy (St. Joseph’s Doora Barefield), Kevin Hehir (Inagh/Kilnamona); Bobby Duggan (Clarecastle) (0-13, 7f), Shane Gleeson (Cratloe) (0-01), Ian Galvin (Clonlara) (0-06); Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg Inis), Stephen Ward (Clarecastle), Ryan Taylor (Clooney/Quin) (0-01). Subs: Shane Taylor (Broadford) for Gleeson (38), Niall Deasy (Ballyea) for Hehir (58).
Waterford: Jordan Henley (Tallow); Shane McNulty (De La Salle), Kieran Bennett (Ballysaggart), Conor Gleeson (Fourmilewater); Michéal Harney (Bonmahon), Tadhg de Búrca (Clashmore Kinsalebeg), Tom Devine (Modeligo); Austin Gleeson (Mount Sion) (0-05, 1f, 1’65), Colin Dunford (Colligan) (0-01), Mikey Kearney (Ballyduff Upper) (0-01); Shane Bennett (Ballysaggart) (0-02, 1’65), Ryan Donnelly (Dungarvan), Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart), DJ Foran (Portlaw) (0-01); Patrick Curran (Dungarvan) (1-07, 5f),. Subs: Darragh Lyons (Dungarvan) for Harney (HT), Cathal Curran (Dungarvan) (0-01) for Donnelly (40), Seamus Keating (Ardmore) for Foran (46).
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).
All pics by David Crimmins