Munster SFC: Clare survive Waterford scare
Munster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
CLARE 0-9 WATERFORD 0-8
By Derrick Lynch in Cusack Park
Clare were forced to overcome a nervy finishing before overcoming Waterford and booking their spot in the Munster SFC semi-final.
The Banner saw a six-point half-time lead whittled away as Waterford hit 0-6 unanswered in the second half to almost spring an upset.
After what was an uninspiring opening period, Clare led 0-8 to 0-2 with Eoin Cleary accounting for 0-6 of that tally. Waterford set up defensively, with their 15 men often packed inside their own 45 metre line which led to long periods of sustained Clare possession as they looked to find a gap in the cover. The Banner raced into a 0-4 to 0-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes, with all of those coming from Cleary.
The first came when he converted a free after Gavin Cooney was fouled, and another from distance after Darragh Bohannon was upended. That free came as a result of Clare putting strong pressure on the Waterford kick-out, with no easy options being given to 46-year-old debutante Darren Mulhearne.
Clare were playing the game at a much higher tempo, and it was something Waterford were struggling to keep pace with. Cleary took his tally for four with two brilliant points from either wing, with the fourth being the pick of the bunch as he arrowed over from the left side on the run.
Waterford got off the mark through a Shane Ahearne free, but Clare rattled off three in a row to stay in the ascendency. Cleary profited from strong pressure on the Waterford kick-out once more as he slotted over neatly after possession was turned over. He then turned provider to pick out Jamie Malone with a tidy pass which the Corofin man finished, and another free for Cleary left the home side ahead by 0-7 to 0-2.
Conor Murray and Dean Ryan swapped points with ten minutes to go the break, but there would be no further scores before the half-time whistle came, with Clare enjoying a six-point advantage.
Jamie Malone opened the second half scoring but points from Dessie Hutchinson and Conor Murray doubled the Deise’s tally with 40 minutes on the clock.
The Clare defence had much more work to do in the second period, but Gordon Kelly and Cian O’Dea in particular stood firm. 13 minutes passed before the next score, as Dessie Hutchinson slotted a close-range free to leave his side 0-9 to 0-5 in arrears with 15 minutes left to play.
Waterford were growing into the game and hit another brace through O’hUllachain and JJ Hutchison which saw the gap left at just two points as the final ten minutes loomed.
Both sides were guilty of spurning good scoring chances in the closing stages, but another from JJ Hutchison left just the minimum between them as injury time began. That was as close as it got though, as Clare snuck through to a semi-final showdown with Kerry.
Scorers for Clare: Eoin Cleary (0-6, 3f), Jamie Malone (0-2), Dean Ryan (0-1)
Scorers for Waterford: Conor Murray (0-2), Dessie Hutchinson (0-2, 1f), JJ Hutchison (0-2), Shane Ahearne, Tadgh O hUllachain (0-1 each).
CLARE: Stephen Ryan; Gordon Kelly, Cillian Brennan, Kevin Harnett; Sean Collins, Aaron Fitzgerald, Dean Ryan; Gary Brennan (c), Darragh Bohannon; Kieran Malone, Eoin Cleary, Jamie Malone; Cian O’Dea, Cormac Murray, Gavin Cooney. Subs: Gearoid O’Brien for Kieran Malone, Conal O’hAinifein for Cooney, Cathal O’Connor for Bohannon (black card), Dale Masterson for Murray, Davy O’Halloran for Collins
WATERFORD: Darren Mulhearne; Sean O’Donovan, Ray O’Ceallaigh, James McGrath; Brian Looby (c), Shane Ryan, Tadhg Ó hUallacháin; Shane Ahearne, Tommy Prendergast; Sean Whelan-Barrett, Dylan Guiry, Conor Murray; Jack Mullaney, Ferghal Ó Cuirrin, Michael Curry. Subs: Dessie Hutchinson for Whelan-Barrett, JJ Hutchinson for Mullaney, Donie Fitzgerald for O’Cuirrin, Jason Curry for Guiry, Billy O’Keefe for O hUllachain, Brian Lynch for Murray.
Ref: Brendan Cawley (Kildare)