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Munster SFC: Clare cruise to victory

James Power, Waterford, and Ronan Lanigan, Clare, in Munster SFC action. Photo by Tyler Miller/Sportsfile

James Power, Waterford, and Ronan Lanigan, Clare, in Munster SFC action. Photo by Tyler Miller/Sportsfile

Munster SFC semi-final

Clare 2-20 Waterford 1-9

By Stephen Barry at Fraher Field

Clare made it back-to-back Munster finals for the first time since 1937 with a routine 14-point win over Waterford.

The victory, secured with goals from Emmet McMahon and Mark McInerney, also seals their place in the top 16 for the All-Ireland series. The Déise will now play in the Tailteann Cup.

There was a late change on either side. Ikem Ugweru replaced Daniel Walsh for Clare, who also handed first starts of the year to captain Cillian Brennan and Darragh Bohannon. Seán Whelan-Barrett came in for Caolán Mac Craith in a Waterford side which had Liam Fennell and Dermot Ryan available again.

Clare were sufficiently forewarned of the dangers of Fraher Field. Five of their team experienced a shock under-20 defeat to Waterford here three years ago and they were sharp from the start.

A fine Jason Curry punt gave Waterford the first point but Clare quickly took over. They discouraged the underdogs with their efficient use of possession, converting eight of their first nine shots, and their aggressive kick-out press which yielded 1-4 in the first half.

They had seven in a row between the second and 13th minutes, including a goal chance from a misplaced kick-out. Under pressure, Aaron Griffin (0-5) drove it over.

Dermot Coughlan, Bohannon, and McMahon kicked stylish points from all angles. When Whelan-Barrett hit back with a huge score, Ciarán Downes responded with two lovely curlers.

Defenders Robbie McGrath and Ross Browne also came forward to point for the hosts before McMahon killed them off with a rapid-fire 1-1. The goal was well created by corner-back Ronan Lanigan, who assisted 1-2, and finished by the Kildysart dynamo at the second attempt as Clare led 1-11 to 0-4 at half-time.

After the restart Griffin palmed into the sidenetting with Clare’s first attack. Despite that miss, they continued to stretch ahead and from a quick counter, Griffin squared for McInerney to punch home.

Waterford immediately hit back with goal-scoring hero Tom O’Connell fisting a high ball to the net. 2-13 to 1-5 now.

Cormac Murray had a goal ruled out for a marginal square-ball decision, while, at the other end, Curry had a shot scrambled off the line, Alan Dunwoody fluffed another chance wide, and Fennell shot straight at Stephen Ryan.

Scorers for Clare: Emmet McMahon 1-3 (1f), Mark McInerney 1-2 (1f) Aaron Griffin 0-5, Ciarán Downes 0-4 (1 45), Darragh Bohannon, Diarmuid O'Donnell 0-2 each, Gavin Murray, Dermot Coughlan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Waterford: Tom O’Connell 1-1 (1f), Alan Dunwoody 0-3 (2fs) Jason Curry 0-2 (1f), Ross Browne, Robbie McGrath, Seán Whelan-Barrett 0-1 each.

Clare: Stephen Ryan; Manus Doherty, Cillian Brennan, Ronan Lanigan; Alan Sweeney, Cillian Rouine, Ikem Ugweru; Brian McNamara, Darragh Bohannon; Gavin Murray, Dermot Coughlan, Ciarán Downes; Mark McInerney, Aaron Griffin, Emmet McMahon.

Subs: Cormac Murray for G Murray (35-h-t, blood), Cormac Murray for McMahon (46), Joe McGann for Bohannon (51), Diarmuid O’Donnell for McInerney (55), Cian Burke for Sweeney (59), Tom McDonald for Coughlan (67).

Waterford: Paudie Hunt; Ross Browne, Caoimhín Walsh, Liam Fennell; Billy O’Keeffe, Dermot Ryan, Robbie McGrath; Michael Curry, Jason Curry; Seán Whelan-Barrett, Donie Fitzgerald, William Beresford; Stephen Curry, Tom O’Connell, James Power.

Subs: James Walsh for Fitzgerald (39), Caolán Mac Craith for Beresford (43), Alan Dunwoody for Browne (47), Billy Hynes for McGrath (61), Michael O’Brien for J Curry (66).

Referee: David Murnane (Cork).