*Cathal Malone chases back to try win possession for Clare. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Twelve points separated Clare and Waterford in Sunday’s Munster SHC tie, Eoin Brennan reflects back on the encounter to dish out the latest player ratings.
1: Eibhear Quilligan
For the second successive outing, had precious little goal attempts to contend with as Clare’s new-look rearguard proved equally as miserly. Puck-outs and sweeper option clearances were both assured and deadly accurate and even got a hurley to Dessie Hutchinson’s piledriver that nestled into the top right corner of the net after a quick Shane Bennett 44th minute. With the result beyond doubt, made way for Eamonn Foudy to make his debut late on.
4: Cian Nolan
A first taste of senior championship action for the Smith O’Brien’s defender and he was really tested too as it was essentially a baptism of fire to have to first mark the lively Jamie Barron before an injury saw him being replaced by experienced marksman Stephen Bennett. Quickly got to know the Ballysaggart forward intimately which earned both a yellow card but Nolan never let such an early set-back impact his performance.
3: Conor Cleary
Clare’s defensive lynchpin kept a tight rein on proceedings in what was a regigged backline. Much like the Limerick outing seven days previously, wasn’t always an orthodox full-back as he flitted between following marker Patrick Curran out the field and holding firm in a sweeper role in Clare’s last line. His roaming ventures did allow the Miltown native a rare shot at the posts while also almost teeing up Peter Duggan for a goal at the turn of the opening quarter.
2: Rory Hayes
While the attacking division were busy putting clear daylight between the sides, Clare’s corner-block Hayes was dissecting any remaining Waterford hope by nullifying their main threat Dessie Hutchinson. Indeed, the Ballygunner scorer-in-chief had to drop deep in order to get on the ball and procure some much-needed scores, with Hayes also hitting a wide as well as clearing a ball off the line in the opening period. With the result sorted, came off to allow Adam Hogan his debut.
5: Jack Browne
Despite being originally named to line out against Limerick seven days earlier, the Ballyea defender finally made his first championship start in 18 months incidentally against the same opponents. Was effectively combative throughout as more a sitting wing-back rather than an overlapping runner but crucially helped clear the danger from a late Stephen Bennett 20 metre free while also having a go for a score of his own in the opening period.
6: Aaron Fitzgerald
Not only handed a first senior championship starting berth but the prestigious centre-back role to boot to complete a provincial dual double in a Clare jersey. Chased and harassed throughout despite Waterford’s attempt to open a chasm through the centre of defence as Neil Montgomery didn’t exact play a quintessential number 11 role. With the game done and dusted, was substituted for another debutante Darragh Lohan entering the final quarter.
7: David McInerney
Won an All-Star in Clare’s All-Ireland winning season in 2013 but is arguably playing his best hurling currently as not only a physically dominant defender but also as an extra attacking option, particularly from puck-outs. That was keenly demonstrated by two excellent first half points that stemmed directly from Eibhear Quilligan restarts to take his overall 2022 championship tally to five points in four matches.
10: Cathal Malone
Proudly captained a Clare senior team in championship action for the very first time and it would prove inspirational in the North Clare native garnering his biggest haul of the championship so far when raiding for four points. Three of those came in a five minute spell at the turn of the final quarter, each one from an acute angle on the right wing to boost the Banner to their biggest cushion of the entire provincial campaign at a whopping 20 points.
9: Shane Golden
A first championship start in almost three years for the Sixmilebridge midfielder who grasped the rare opportunity with vigour. Wasn’t at the glamorous end of the highest total of all five teams in the provincial campaign as Clare it the 40 point mark but proved an important link player in the engine room over the 70 minutes. Scored the first point of the second half and almost set up a goal for Peter Duggan too only for his shot to deflect off the body of Conor Gleeson.
12: Shane O’Donnell
It was difficult to top his influential displays against Tipperary and Cork but on Sunday, the puck-out magnet added a more ruthless scoring efficiency to his unquestionable selfless play and direct running. Scored five timely points including two of the first three from distance to set the tone while directly setting up 1-3 for others including the killer pass for David Fitzgerald’s injury-time goal to put Clare 13 clear by the break.
8: David Fitzgerald
There’s no doubt that the versatile Fitzgerald has finally found his groove and perfect position to lead by example, elusively avoid markers and pop up with vital scores. The stats don’t lie in that regard as while admittedly he spend much of his early Clare career as a defender, his seven point haul in 24 previous championship outings has simply been blown away by his 2022 record that stands at 2-9 in just four matches, all from play. Now a crucial cog in the Clare wheel.
15: Ryan Taylor
Perhaps not as dominant as previous outings thus far but remains Clare’s most relentless performer whose admirable stamina levels have seen the Clooney-Quin playmaker invariably improve as matches develop as evidenced by a brace of second half points. One of only three Clare players to have scored in all four provincial ties, it also kept up his enviable 2022 record of at least two points per championship game.
13: Ian Galvin
Returned from suspension following his harsh red card against Cork and was admittedly a little ring-rusty with more wides than scores. However, his poacher’s instinct is Galvin’s USP and it was no coincidence that he was at the heart of Clare’s first two goal chances. With Duggan’s 19th minute flick somehow kept out, Galvin pointed the rebound before perfectly teeing up David Reidy for the opening goal only five minutes later. Replaced in the third quarter by Shane Meehan.
11: David Reidy
Almost four months after his last start, the returning Reidy certainly made up for lost time in a very busy string-pulling performance as an inside forward with a full license to roam freely. With Munster Final places up for grabs, he was instrumental in opening up a decisive early gap with a brace of points points before scoring the opening goal and teeing up David Fitzgerald for the crucial third on the restart. Withdrawn with 20 minutes to go after running himself to a standstill.
14: Peter Duggan
Clare’s ‘human octopus’ is every defence’s nightmare as not only a major handful and threat, both in the air as well as a razor-sharp first touch but his persistence in halting any opposition defensive bursts also ensures a high rate of dispossessions. Duggan’s potential duel with Tadhg de Búrca would have been intriguing but had a great tussle with Conor Gleeson to pick off eight points and could have easily been 3-8 in a swashbuckling display that epitomised Clare’s spirit.
19: Shane Meehan
First to be sprung from the bench and immediately lit up the Park with a superb point from the right corner before teeing up Peter Duggan for another.
26: Robin Mounsey
Clare’s most impactful substitute who showed his added sprinkling of experience to raid for a brace of final quarter points in just five minutes.
21: Adam Hogan
Initially a blood sub for Rory Hayes but was permanently handed his senior championship debut in what has been a whirlwind few months for the Harty Cup winning St Joseph’s Tulla star.
20: Darragh Lohan
Another to make their senior championship competitive bow in the heart of the defence and is the first of the third generation of Lohan’s to donn the Saffron and Blue at senior level.
16: Eamonn Foudy
Switching goalkeepers may have seemed like the ultimate insult to Waterford but that was of no concern to Foudy who has waited patiently for this first championship opportunity.