Clare 1-22 Waterford 2-21
By James Mc Conigley
A rallying finish by Derek Mc Grath’s side insured they will face the tribesman in the Allianz league Quarter-final while the Banner are set for a relegation playoff with Dublin.
Both these sides were locked on four points before the throw-in at Ennis but it was the persistence of Waterford that paid dividends as they obtained the important two points.
Waterford started brightly and a long delivery in unravelled the Clare defence ultimately leading to Shane Bennett pulling the ball to the net. It took Clare eight minutes to register a score which came in the shape of Ian Galvin.
After a horrid start, Clare shook off the shackles and preformed the free flowing hurling that they’ve threatened to impose, shooting four points in just six minutes. Podge Collins, who was at the heart of every attack for the home team, helped them into the lead for the first time on the 16th minute, arrowing the sliotar past the outstretched Stephen Bennett.
Tony Kelly pushed Clare five points in front with three successful converted frees but Waterford recovered, scoring five of the last seven scores before half time. Trailing 1-11 to 1-13 at the interval, the visitors whittled down the Banner men’s lead to just one on the 40th minute, courtesy of Pauric Mahoney’s clinical free taking.
Like in the opening half, the guests enjoyed a siesta midway through the second half as Clare dominated the third quarter of this fixture with points from Mc Inerney, Kelly and John Conlan.
On the 58th minute, The Clare fans jeered when pantomime villain Austin Gleeson was replaced, but those jeers turned to disbelief as their side surrendering a four point lead. Substitute Tom Devine seized the opportunity scoring a vital goal late on, leaving Cian Dillon in his wake and pulling to the net on the second time of asking.
Although Fitzgerald replied instantly, Colm Galvin and Patrick Donnellan were introduced with five minutes remaining in the hope of inspiration but it wasn’t to be for Moloney/O’Connor’s team.
Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 0-7 (5f); Podge Collins 1-3; Aron Shanagher, John Conlon, Cathal McInerney 0-2 each; Ian Galvin, David McInerney, Jason McCarthy, Jamie Shanahan, David Fitzgerald, Bobby Duggan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: Pauric Mahony 0-10 (8f); Shane Bennett, Tom Devine 1-1 each; Stephen Bennett 0-3; Brian O’Halloran, Austin Gleeson 0-2 each, Patrick Curran, Tommy Ryan 0-1 each.
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)