Waterford progressed into the Munster Senior Hurling Championship final with a comfortable 1-21 to 0-17 win over Clare. Waterford went for the jugular from the first whistle and were rewarded early on when Maurice Shanahan found the net in the fourth minute as his shot trickled over the line after the Clare backline didn’t deal with a cross that presented no real danger from Tadgh De Burca. Clare looked shaky compared to Waterford as they hit a number of wides . Any source of a Clare comeback came from Conor McGrath who contributed seven points while the Man of the Match in the League final replay Tony Kelly had a day to forget and only scored a single point.
Clare responded well hitting the next three scores to draw level by the 14th minute. But a combination of the heat and the tactical approach by both teams which featured constant movement by the players meant that the contest never opened up.
There was little between the sides through the mid-point of the half but Waterford eased into a four point lead at half time to the tune of 1-9 to 0-8. Austin Gleeson was impressing for the Deise grabbing three points from three attempts on the goals while Darragh Fives also impressed.
Waterford started the second half how they did in the first half. Waterford hit three answered points to extend their advantage of six points and really they never looked like losing the contest afterwards.
With Waterford showing their dominance, Clare simply wilted in the heat and with not much going their way they could not penetrate the Deise defence and once the magnificent Gleeson continued to add to Waterford’s score, Clare couldn’t offer much of a response.
Maurice Shanahan back in the Waterford side also impressed as he became more influential the longer the contest lasted and although he missed out on the Man of the Match award to Gleeson, he was the game’s joint top scorer from play with a 1-2 contribution. Team captain Kevin Moran played a key role as well scoring 0-3.
Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald promised a more ‘fired-up’ Clare for the hurling qualifiers as they were certainly lacking the bite we have come to expect from Clare in recent years. However, it still is early days in the championship and you do get the sense there’s more to come from both teams this year.
Waterford will now play in their second consecutive Munster final as they seek to win their provincial title in six years. They will meet either Tipperary or Limerick in the decider on the 10th July.
Clare: P Kelly; C Dillon, P O’Connor, C Cleary (0-1); O O’Brien, B Bugler (0-1), D Fitzgerald (0-1); D Reidy (0-1), C Galvin (0-1), P Collins (0-2), T Kelly (0-1), C McGrath (0-3, 2f); D Honan, S O’Donnell, J Conlon (0-1), Subs: C Ryan (0-2, 65) for Honan 43m; C O’Connell (0-3, 2f) for McGrath 51m; S Golden for Fitzgerald 53m, A Shanagher for Collins 58m; A Cunningham for Galvin 66m;
Waterford: S O’Keeffe; N Connors, B Coughlan, S Fives; D Fives (0-1), T De Burca, Philip Mahony (0-1); J Barron, K Moran (0-3); Pauric Mahony (0-6, 5f ), S Bennett (0-1), M Walsh; M Shanahan (1-2), A Gleeson (0-6, I sideline, P Curran. Subs: T Devine for Benett 54m; J Dillon (0-1) for Curran 57m; B O’Halloran for Pauric Mahony, C Dunford for Shanahan 70m; Stephen Bennett for Walsh 74m.
Referee: J Owens (Wexford)