All Ireland SHC Q-F: Impressive Waterford advance
All Ireland SHC Quarter-Final
WATERFORD 3-27 CLARE 3-18
By Dermot Keyes at Páirc Uí Chaoimh
A sensational contribution by Dessie Hutchinson, in addition to points from no less than five substitutes steered Waterford into a first All-Ireland Semi-Final since 2017.
Despite an excellent performance by Aron Shanagher in attack for Clare, the Déisemen limited the in-form Tony Kelly (who rolled an ankle in the pre-match warm-up) to just two points from play.
At the end of a breathless first half, Waterford led by 3-10 to 2-10, with Hutchinson and Shanagher netting a brace of goals at either end.
Hutchinson’s first Championship goal opened the scoring after two minutes, sliding the ball home after Eibhear Quilligan had parried Austin Gleeson’s shot into the Ballygunner attacker’s path.
Thirty seconds later, Tony Kelly, patrolled tightly by Calum Lyons, got Clare off the mark with Shane O’Donnell and a superb David McInerney sideline cut brought the sides level by the fifth minute. But a minute later, Hutchinson goaled again after he latched onto Stephen O’Keefe’s deep delivery, soundly pulling the ball past the diving Quilligan.
Following fine support play by Jamie Barron, Kieran Bennett opened his account with a 10th minute point only for Tony Kelly to convert a free from the subsequent Clare attack. But two successive frees from Stephen Bennett and a second score for his brother Kieran pulled Waterford six points clear and seemingly in command by the 13th minute.
But Clare pulled back two points prior to the first water break through Tony Kelly (a free) and Cathal Malone to leave Brian Lohan’s men 2-5 to 0-6 down.
And it was the Banner who steamed out of the blocks upon the resumption, with Aron Shanagher zipping the sliotar beyond Stephen O’Keeffe following great support play from Ryan Taylor and David McInerney.
Shanagher goaled again in the 20th minute, brilliantly retrieving a high ball, breaking clear of Conor Prunty and slamming the ball home to send Clare a point ahead. But Waterford promptly responded through Austin Gleeson and Stephen Bennett to edge back in front by the 23rd minute only for a Clare purple patch to yield points from Shane O’Donnell, Aron Shanagher and Tony Kelly (a free) over the following three minutes.
The game continued to flow brilliantly, with Liam Cahill’s charges restoring parity by the 29th minute thanks to another brace of Stephen Bennett points. Kelly turned over another free in the 33rd minute only for Waterford to goal again through Jack Fagan following Dessie Hutchinson’s superb cross-goal pass. Kieran Bennett’s stoppage time point left Waterford at goal clear by the break.
Stephen Bennett and substitute Neil Montgomery landed the opening scores of the second half before Kelly produced another of his trademark 2020 Championship points in the 41st minute. Cathal Malone turned over another fine point 90 seconds later only for the outstanding Hutchinson to immediately reply at the opposite end.
Kieran Bennett, who turned 26 today, sent Waterford five clear just shy of the 45th minute only for Clare’s Ryan Taylor to point from the Banner’s next attack. Tadhg De Burca and Tony Kelly (a free) traded points in the 51st and 52nd minutes before Jack Fagan steered over a superb point from deep on the right flank.
Austin Gleeson and Jamie Barron were next to score, leaving Waterford seven clear after 55 minutes but Clare were far from finished, with centre-back Aidan McCarthy charging onto a brilliant cross-field pass to slam the ball low to the left of the diving O’Keeffe.
Stephen Bennett steadied the Déise ship with a 58th minute free before Stephen O’Keeffe denied substitute Aaron Cunningham with a sensational point black stop three minutes later. Kelly and Bennett exchanged frees in the 62nd minute before a further Bennett free left Waterford seven points ahead with six minutes of regulation time remaining.
Substitutes Patrick Curran and Conor Gleeson (twice) added to Waterford’s tally before O’Keeffe saved well again in stoppage time to deny Cunningham a consolation goal. Tony Kelly, Cathal Malone and David Reidy added to Clare’s tally in the closing minutes while Darragh Lyons became the fifth Waterford replacement to point in the 74th minute. Kilkenny await Waterford in next Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final.
Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 0-10 (7fs); Dessie Hutchinson 2-2, Jack Fagan 1-1, Kieran Bennett 0-3, Austin Gleeson 0-2, Jamie Barron 0-2, Conor Gleeson 0-2, Calum Lyons 0-1, Tadhg De Burca 0-1, Patrick Curran 0-1, Darragh Lyons 0-1, Neil Montgomery 0-1.
Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 0-8 (6fs), Aron Shanagher 2-1, Cathal Malone 0-4, Shane O’Donnell 0-2, Aidan McCarthy 1-0, David McInerney 0-1 (sideline), Ryan Taylor 0-1, David Reidy 0-1.
WATERFORD: Stephen O’Keeffe; Ian Kenny, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Calum Lyons, Tadhg De Burca, Kevin Moran; Jamie Barron, Jake Dillon; Jack Fagan, Kieran Bennett, Stephen Bennett; Dessie Hutchinson, Austin Gleeson, Jack Prendergast.
Subs: Neil Montgomery for Jack Prendergast (half-time), Darragh Lyons for Jake Dillon (45), Patrick Curran for Jack Fagan (60), Iarlaith Daly for Conor Prunty (Blood, 60-62), Conor Gleeson for Austin Gleeson and Ciaran Kirwan for Dessie Hutchinson (72).
CLARE: Eibhear Quilligan; Rory Hayes, Conor Cleary, Patrick O’Connor; Stephen O’Halloran, Aidan McCarthy, Seadna Morey; Jason McCarthy, Tony Kelly; Cathal Malone, Aron Shanagher, Jack Browne; Shane O’Donnell, Jack Browne, Ryan Taylor.
Subs: David Fitzgerald for Jack Browne (half-time), Diarmuid Ryan for Jason McCarthy (52), Aaron Cunningham for Jason McCarthy and David Reidy for David Fitzgerald (both 56), Cathal McInerney for Ryan Taylor (61).
REFEREE: Paud O’Dywer (Carlow).