Clare hold firm at the death to survive valiant Waterford fightback

Clare 0-9
Waterford 0-8

Declan Rooney reports from Cusack Park, Ennis

CLARE WILL FACE Kerry in the Munster senior football championship semi-final for the fourth year in a row after Eoin Cleary fired them to victory against Waterford at Cusack Park in Ennis.

This was far from straightforward for the Banner men, who had to fend off a Waterford comeback after the Déise county kicked six unanswered points in the second half.

With 12 minutes to go, Clare’s seven-point lead had been whittled down to two, and JJ Hutchinson put one between the teams in added-time, but Clare just about fell over the line.

With Waterford playing with a very tightly-packed defence, it was very had for the Clare players to pick out passes into their full-forward line, but after Cleary had kicked the opening two scores of the game from placed balls, he started to shine.

His point from the right after 14 minutes was brilliant when he brought a seemingly endless spell of Clare possession to an end with a bold attempt, and two minutes later he made it 0-4 to 0-0 when he scored off his left from the left sideline after an exchange of passes.

Waterford finally got off the mark when Shane Ahearne kicked a free for Brendan Whelan’s side, but Clare responded stylishly with a Cleary point from play, their sixth point from Jamie Malone — which was laid on by Cleary — and another Cleary free in the 23rd minute.

Conor Murray tagged on a great point from the right as Waterford began to come out of their shell a bit more, but Clare ended on a high when Gary Brennan and Gavin Cooney combined, before Dean Ryan pointed on the run to give his side a 0-8 to 0-2 lead at half-time.

Gary Brennan under pressure.

Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

An exchange of points after the break maintained Clare’s six-point lead before Murray pointed from the right again for Waterford, who continued to improve as the game progressed.

Tadhg Ó hUallacháin landed a great score after he took a big shoulder, and JJ Hutchinson added another score — Waterford’s fifth without reply — which put two points between the teams with 12 minutes remaining.

Hutchinson kicked his second point deep into added-time, but the clock beat Waterford in the end.

Scorers for Clare: E Cleary 0-6 (3f), J Malone 0-2, D Ryan 0-1.

Scorers for Waterford: C Murray 0-2, D Hutchinson 0-2 (2f), JJ Hutchinson 0-2, S Ahearne 0-1 (1f), T Ó hUallacháin 0-1.

Clare:

1. Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks)

4. Kevin Hartnett (Meelick)
3. Cillian Brennan (Clondegad)
2. Gordon Kelly (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay)

7. Dean Ryan (Na Fianna, Dublin)
6. Aaron Fitzgerald (Eire Og Ennis)
5. Sean Collins (Cratloe)

8. Gary Brennan (Clondegad) (captain)
17. Darragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels) 

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10. Kieran Malone (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay)
11. Eoin Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay)
12. Jamie Malone (Corofin)

14. Cormac Murray (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay)
15. Gavin Cooney (Eire Og Ennis)
13. Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora)

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Subs:

21. Gearoid O’Brien (Kilrush Shamrocks) for K Malone (half-time)
24. Conall Ó hAiniféin (Ruan) for Cooney (48)
22. Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen) for Bohannan (58, black)
20. Dale Masterson (St Breckans) for Murray (65)
25. Davy O’Halloran (Eire Og Ennis) for S Collins (72).

Waterford:

1. Darren Mulhearne (Kilrossanty)

4. James McGrath ( The Nire)
3. Ray O’Ceallaigh (An Rinn)
2. Sean O’Donovan (Modeligo)

7. Tadhg Ó hUallacháin (An Rinn)
6. Shane Ryan (The Nire)
5. Brian Looby (Ballinacourty) (captain)

8. Shane Aherne (Stradbally)
9. Tommy Prendergast (Kilrossanty)

12. Conor Murray (Rathgormack)
11. Dylan Guiry (The Nire)
10. Sean Whelan-Barrett (Ballinacourty)

13. Jack Mullaney (Stradbally)
14. Ferghal Ó Cuirrín (An Rinn)
15. Michael Curry (Rathgormack)

Subs:

19. Dessie Hutchinson (Gaultier) for Whelan-Barrett (35)
17. JJ Hutchinson (Gaultier) for Mullaney (48)
24. Donie Fitzgerald (Kilrossanty) for Ó Cuirrin (65)
18. Jason Curry (Rathgormack) for Guiry (68)
26. Billy O’Keeffe (Gaultier) for Ó hUallacháin (70)
20. Brian Lynch (Clashmore/Kinsalebeg) for Murray (74).

Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare).

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