Clare beat Waterford by 1-20 to 0-22 in an exciting Munster hurling championship opener at sunny Walsh Park.
With 11,012 in attendance, the winners laid the foundations for victory before the break and hung on gallantly in the end as a battling Waterford side finished with real intent.
A dominant second-quarter display saw the visitors assume a commanding 1-13 to 0-10 interval advantage. Despite the concession of a third-minute John Conlon goal, Na Deise, playing into the breeze in the first half, were just a point adrift after 16 minutes, Austin Gleeson and Stephen Bennett (free) firing over scores to make it 0-5 to 1-3.
The next six points were traded, Shane Golden’s effort cancelled out by Jamie Barron, before the Banner took control with a crucial run of five unanswered points – Shane O’Donnell, Peter Duggan (two frees), Conlon and Tony Kelly from distance the providers.
The hosts lost Noel Connors to injury halfway through the opening period but rediscovered their scoring touch late in the half, although Mikey Kearney and Barron both saw their efforts cancelled out by Duggan frees.
Stephen Bennett posted two Waterford points when the action resumed but Colm Galvin and Duggan (free) replied as the gap stayed at six. A run of points from Bennett (‘65’, free) and Gleeson halved the Waterford deficit – 1-15 to 0-15 with 20 minutes to go – but another Duggan free offered Clare some breathing space.
Kelly struck off Bennett’s eighth point and substitute Aidan McCarthy made an instant impact as he split the posts within seconds of his introduction. After five tense minutes without a score, Bennett’s free was cancelled out by Kelly, leaving Clare five to the good with 64 minutes gone.
Points from Bennett (free) and Maurice Shanahan set up a tense finale, injury-time strikes from Bennett (free) - his eleventh score - and Gleeson suddenly leaving just one point between the sides. Substitutes Ryan Taylor and Tommy Ryan swapped points in the third of five additional minutes and Clare held on for the win in a dramatic, frenetic finale.
Clare - D Tuohy; P O’Connor, D McInerney, J Browne; S Morey, C Galvin (0-1), D Fitzgerald; S Golden (0-1), C Malone; P Duggan (0-8, 7f), T Kelly (0-5), D Ryan; S O’Donnell (0-1), J Conlon (1-1), P Collins (0-1). Subs: A Shanagher for P Collins, A McCarthy (0-1) for S Golden, R Taylor (0-1) for D Ryan.
Waterford - S O’Keeffe; S McNulty, C Prunty, N Connors; Philip Mahony, T De Burca, K Moran; J Barron (0-2), C Gleeson (0-1); A Gleeson (0-4), M Kearney (0-1), Pauric Mahony; Shane Bennett (0-1), Stephen Bennett (0-11, 8f, 1‘65), P Hogan. Subs: S Fives for N Connors, T Ryan (0-1) for P Hogan, J Prendergast for J Barron, P Curran for Shane Bennett, M Shanahan (0-1) for Pauric Mahony.
Referee - J Owens.Tweet