Munster SHC: Banner wear down wasteful Waterford

02 June 2013

Clare's David McInerney and Maurice Shanahan of Waterford
©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan
Clare 2-20
Waterford 1-15

Clare's younger legs proved too much for Waterford as second half goals from Shane O'Donnell and Conor McGrath propelled them to an eight-point victory at Semple Stadium.

Trailing by 0-8 to 1-9 at half-time, Davy Fitzgerald's charges stepped on the gas after the restart to set up a semi-final showdown with Cork on June 23. It was the Banner's first Munster SHC win since 2008 and their first over the Deise in five attempts between league and championship games in recent years.

Big things are expected of Clare this year after their All-Ireland U21 successes of 2009 and 2012, and they will be delighted to have cleared this particular hurdle after struggling for much of the first half. Before an attendance of 12,103, the winners raced into an early 0-4 to 0-0 lead, but soon found themselves on the back-foot thanks to the aerial dominance enjoyed by Seamus Prendergast and Maurice Shanahan in the Waterford attack.

However, Michael Ryan's side ran out of steam in the second half and were left to rue 15 wides compared to Clare's eight.

While Waterford lined out as selected, Cian Dillon and Darach Honan were late call-ups to the Clare team in place of Conor Ryan and Padraic Collins. After a minute's silence was observed for Waterford GAA president Seamus O'Brien, who passed away during the week, Colin Ryan fired the Banner into a third-minute lead from a free.

John Conlon then took centre stage with two exquisite points in as many minutes. Clare's excellent start continued when Tony Kelly scored their fourth point with barely five minutes played.

Slow to settle, Waterford were gifted a goal in the eighth minute when Clare captain Pat Donnellan's poor clearance went straight to debutant Jake Dillon who still had plenty of work to do before firing a low shot past goalkeeper Patrick Kelly.

Dillon followed up with an equalising point, which was quickly cancelled out by a Darach Honan effort. Waterford were back on level terms, 1-2 to 0-5, after 15 minutes when veteran Seamus Prendergast made amends for an earlier miss with a fine score from the middle of the field.

Colin Ryan's second free restored Clare's lead in the 17th minute, but Waterford then took a firm grip on proceedings with five unanswered points in a 10-minute spell. Padraic O'Mahony brought them level before Maurice Shanahan grabbed a high ball and fired them back in front, 1-4 to 0-6.

Shanahan tapped over two frees before Honan registered Clare's second wide. Jamie Barron's 28th minute point pushed the losers' four points as Peter Duggan replaced Seadna Morey - who had been an injury doubt beforehand - in the Clare defence.

John Conlon's third point from play in the 31st minute kept the Banner in it. However, Waterford quickly regained their four-point lead when Kevin Moran seized on a poor puck-out by Patrick Kelly and split the posts. Tony Kelly replied from an acute angle before Shanahan completed the first half scoring with his fourth point and third from a free.

The first score of the second half didn't arrive until the 43rd minute when Tony Kelly ran half the length of the pitch before shooting an inspirational point. Colin Ryan and Shanahan traded frees before three Ryan frees in-a-row between the 47th and 50th minutes brought Clare back onto terms, 0-13 to 1-10.

Another Shanahan free edged Waterford back in front, but Clare's growing momentum produced a second point from Honan before the game's decisive score arrived in the 55th minute.

After Ryan was brought down just outside the large rectangle, Tony Kelly opted to go for goal from the 20-metre free. His rasping shot was stopped by Ian O'Regan and Kevin Moran gathered up the rebound. However, Moran's attempted clearance was blocked by Peter Duggan and 18-year-old Shane O'Donnell was on hand to whip the loose ball to the net.

Honan blasted over with a goal at his mercy to extend the winners' lead to 1-15 to 1-11 before Shanahan registered his sixth free in the 60th minute. But the game was effectively ended as a contest a minute later when Conor McGrath ran onto a high ball and nipped inside the Waterford defensive cover to fire home Clare's second major.

Waterford, to their credit, responded with points from sub Martin O'Neill, Dillon and Prendergast, but Clare's fitness really told in the closing stages as substitute Fergal Lynch, Colm Galvin (two) and Ryan all pointed from play to seal an impressive win.

Clare: Patrick Kelly; Domhnall O'Donovan, David McInerney, Cian Dillon; Brendan Bugler, Patrick Donnellan (capt), Patrick O'Connor; Colm Galvin (0-2), Seadna Morey; John Conlon (0-3), Tony Kelly (0-4), Colin Ryan (0-7, 0-6f, 0-1 '65'); Darach Honan (0-3), Shane O'Donnell (1-0), Conor McGrath (1-0). Subs: Peter Duggan for Morey (29 mins), Padraic Collins for O'Donnell (55), Fergal Lynch (0-1) for Duggan (68).

Waterford: Ian O'Regan; Darragh Fives, Liam Lawlor, Noel Connors; Jamie Nagle, Michael Walsh, Paudie Prendergast; Shane O'Sullivan, Kevin Moran (capt) (0-1); Maurice Shanahan (0-7, 0-6f), Seamus Prendergast (0-2), Brian O'Halloran; Jamie Barron (0-1), Pauric Mahony (0-1), Jake Dillon (1-2). Subs: Ray Barry for O'Halloran (17 mins), Gavin O'Brien (0-1) for Barron (56), Martin O'Neill for Mahony (63).

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath).