*Shane O’Donnell on the attack for Clare. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

BACK TO BACK wins in the Munster championship have been achieved by Clare’s senior hurlers who edged out Davy Fitzgerald’s Waterford on Sunday afternoon.

Clare 4-21
Waterford 2-26
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

Mark Rodgers’ last-gasp 65m saw Clare keep their hopes of reaching a third successive Munster final on track. The Déise were far from pleased with the awarding of the 65m with players and mentors making their views known to Liam Gordon and the match officials following the final whistle.

Continuing with the trend of doing the things the hard way, Clare survived but not without allowing Waterford every chance of getting a result in Ennis.

Key to getting the victory was the raising of four green flags, two in either half and all from different hurlers as Darragh Lohan, David Fitzgerald, Mark Rodgers and Tony Kelly all struck the sliotar beyond Shaun O’Brien.

Cusack Park was not awash with scores in the opening minutes, of the first six shots, only Dessie Hutchinson hit the target to put Waterford in front. Aidan McCarthy opened Clare’s account on six minutes and in less than eighth minutes they had built up an 0-8 0-3 advantage with white flags from McCarthy on the double, Mark Rodgers, David Reidy, David Fitzgerald and Shane O’Donnell.

Comeback number one saw Waterford hit three scores on the bounce following O’Donnell’s score with Jack Prendergast on target twice and Kevin Mahony adding another to reduce the deficit to two points.

Then Clare struck for their first goal, an excellent hand pass from Mark Rodgers, an All-Ireland winning handballer at underage level was executed after he spotted Darragh Lohan rushing into space and the Shannon student who was appearing in his first championship tie since the first round loss to Limerick made no mistake with the opportunity to put Clare into a 1-8 0-6 lead on nineteen minutes.

Goal number two saw Cian Galvin give a long delivery to David Fitzgerald and the Inagh/Kilnamona man knew what to do in the danger zone to unleash the sliotar past O’Brien on twenty six minutes.

In their second stage of fighting their way back, Waterford were within five points of Clare at the half time whistle, a gap that few Banner supporters would have been pleased with at this juncture given that they were by far the better team.

As the second half started, Waterford had the first two points to make further inroads into that lead but Clare steadied with Mark Rodgers pouncing for goal number three on thirty nine minutes, an excellent jab lift from the Scariff man under pressure saw him scoop a breaking ball before tucking it into the net.

Three scores in succession saw Waterford cancel out the major before David Fitzgerald ended a ten minute wait for a Clare score.

With fifteen minutes of the second half played, Waterford suddenly found themselves trailing by just a point after Stephen Bennett hit their first goal. Clare were calling for reinforcements, Ballyea’s Tony Kelly among them.

Dessie Hutchinson levelled matters with a free on fifty two minutes before Clare regained the lead with scores from McCarthy, Rodgers and then a goal from Kelly to signal his return to action after missing the second round win over Cork.

Kelly’s green flag with twelve minutes remaining pushed the hosts into a four point winning margin. That was quickly reduced as Waterford through Patrick Fitzgerald, Ian Kenny and the lively Pádraig Fitzgerald were back on level terms with only five minutes to go.

David Fitzgerald added to his tally but Waterford’s response saw lively substitute Pádraig Fitzgerald fire over two points, Calum Lyons split the posts to level matters with five minutes of normal time remaining.

Substitute Ian Galvin executed two nice scores which was followed by Peter Duggan’s first of the afternoon as Clare regained the lead.

With two minutes of additional time played, Waterford were awarded a penalty, Patrick Fitzgerald reacted to a breaking ball which was read poorly by the Clare defence, he was brought down and the subsequent penalty was buried to the bottom right corner by Shane Bennett to suddenly equalise matters.

Conor Leen managed to win a free in defence for Clare, the long range effort from Tony Kelly fell into the Clare attack and Mark Fitzgerald was adjudged to have pushed the sliotar over the line. After some hesitation, the umpire awarded a 65m and the pressure strike was nailed by Mark Rodgers to give Clare their second successive win in the Munster championship and first at home.

Shane O’Donnell as he has been all championship was threatening whenever in possession, Clare’s other standout performers included Mark Rodgers and Cathal Malone.

Scorers for Clare: D Fitzgerald (1-4); M Rodgers (1-3, 0-1 ‘65); T Kelly, D Lohan (1-0 each); A McCarthy (0-5, 0-4 frees); S O’Donnell, I Galvin (0-2 each); D Ryan, C Malone, P Duggan, D Reidy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Waterford: D Hutchinson (0-6, 0-5 frees); Shane Bennett (1-0 pen), Stephen Bennett (1-2 each); K Mahony (0-4); T de Búrca (0-1 free), Pádraig Fitzgerald (0-2 each); I Kenny, K Bennett, J Fagan, C Lyons, J Barron, J Prendergast, M Kiely, Patrick Fitzgerald (0-1 each).

Clare:
1: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

2: Adam Hogan (Feakle)
3: Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown)
4: Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones)

5: Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe)
6: John Conlon (Clonlara)
20: Cian Galvin (Clarecastle)

9: Darragh Lohan (Wolfe Tones)
10: Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)

8: David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona)
15: David Reidy (Éire Óg)
12: Peter Duggan (Clooney/Quin)

11: Mark Rodgers (Scariff)
13: Aidan McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona)
14: Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)

Subs:
26: Tony Kelly (Ballyea) for Reidy (48)
19: Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge) for Lohan (58)
17: Conor Leen (Corofin) for Hayes (58)
22: Ian Galvin (Clonlara) for McCarthy (63)

Waterford:
1: Shaun O’Brien (De La Salle)

4: Iarlaith Daly (Lismore)
17: Ian Kenny (Ballygunner)
2: Kieran Bennett (Ballysaggart)

3: Mark Fitzgerald (Passage)
6: Tadhg de Burca (Clashmore–Kinsalebeg)
7: Calum Lyons (Ballyduff)

8: Darragh Lyons (Dungarvan)
20: Patrick Curran (Dungarvan)

9: Jamie Barron (Fourmilewater)
10: Jack Prendergast (Lismore)
14: Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart)

15: Kevin Mahony (Ballygunner)
12: Michael Kiely (Abbeyside)
13: Dessie Hutchinson (Ballygunner)

Subs:
5: Jack Fagan (De La Salle) for Lyons (15)
22: Shane Bennett (Ballysaggart) for Curran (31) (inj)
18: Conor Ryan (Roanmore) for K Bennett (57)
21: Patrick Fitzgerald (Ballygunner) for Kiely (58)
24: Padraig Fitzgerald (Kilrossanty) for Stephen Bennett (63)
23: Peter Hogan (Ballygunner) for Barron (66)

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway)

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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