Clare’s 2019 Allianz National Hurling League campaign came to an abrupt end following a fourteen point demolition at the hands of Waterford.
Venue: Walsh Park
Two months out from their Munster championship meeting, Waterford laid down a marker of what to expect in Walsh Park in May. Clare on the other hand put in a dismal second half display as they exited the competition on a low point.
Late red cards for Conor Cleary and Peter Duggan had little impact on the result as the home side had the damage done way before both men got their marching orders.
Having played with the breeze in the opening half, Clare held a 1-10 0-11 half-time lead, the goal coming from a Peter Duggan penalty on the fifteenth minute. Two long distance points from Cathal Malone at wing back came off the back of positive moves but Waterford stayed within arms reach courtesy of five Stephen Bennett frees plus efforts from Pauric Mahony, Colm Roche and Austin Gleeson.
A measly four points would be the Banner’s return in the second half as they struggled to get the ball into their forward line especially in the first quarter. Midfield duo Shane Golden and Colm Galvin were forced to retire with injury and regrettably none of the substitutes used had an impact.
Five scores in succession at the start of the second half saw Waterford regain the lead and they never let it slip. A sideline cut from Duggan on forty four minutes was their first score since Aidan McCarthy pointed on the thirty second.
Four further Déise points on the trot were followed by a Duggan free and the same pattern repeated itself once again as Paraic Fanning’s men continued to strengthen their lead. The closing minutes saw referee Sean Cleere dish out red cards to both Conor Cleary and Peter Duggan while Fanning emptied the bench.
Following on from the departure of Derek McGrath, a share of hurling followers would have questioned whether Waterford would challenge for honours in 2019. In their strongest performance of the year to date, the 9 time Munster champions certainly quietened anyone expressing such theories. Their link up play was most impressive while Jack Prendergast, Stephen Bennett, Mikey Kearney, Austin Gleeson and Shane McNulty caught the eye.
An additional game for Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor would have been beneficial in preparation for the Munster championship but instead they are left with the task of lifting the spirits of their panel in the aftermath of a demoralising defeat. Make no mistake, their visit to Walsh Park to May is the one to win but when one sits back and assesses this league campaign, there are more negatives than positives for Clare.
Problems in defence are not going away while the consistent flaw of indiscipline reared it’s head yet again with Stephen Bennett scoring 14 points from frees. In this outing, Clare were particularly disappointing up front not in terms of shooting but more so workrate. It’s less than two months until Clare return to Waterford so no time to lick wounds if the aim is to progress out of the province.
WATERFORD SCORERS: Stephen Bennett (0-16 14f), Pauric Mahony (0-05), Austin Gleeson (0-05), Peter Hogan (0-02), Colm Roche (0-01), Shane Bennett (0-01 1SC), Shane McNulty (0-01)
CLARE SCORERS: Peter Duggan (1-07 6f 1SC), Tony Kelly (0-03), Cathal Malone (0-02), Aron Shanagher (0-01), Aidan McCarthy (0-01).
1. Stephen O’Keeffe (Ballygunner)
2. Shane McNulty (De la Salle)
5. Callum Lyons (Ballyduff Lower)
4. Noel Connors (Passage)
6. Kevin Moran (De la Salle)
9. Colm Roche (Shamrocks)
3. Philip Mahony (Ballygunner)
8. Jamie Barron (Fourmilewater)
10. Jack Prendergast (Lismore)
7. Austin Gleeson (Mount Sion)
11. Mikey Kearney (Ballyduff Upper)
12. Pauric Mahony (Ballygunner)
23. Peter Hogan (Ballygunner)
14. Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart)
15. Shane Bennett (Ballysaggart)
25. Colin Dunford (Colligan) for Prendergast (56)
13. Maurice Shanahan (Lismore) for Kearney (59)
26. Stephen Roche (Mount Sion) for Barron (67)
22. DJ Foran (Portlaw) for Shane Bennett (67)
24. Michael Walsh (Stradbally) for Gleeson (69)
1. Donal Tuohy (Crusheen)
4. Jack Browne (Ballyea)
3. David McInerney (Tulla)
5. Patrick O’Connor (Tubber) – Captain
20. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)
6. Conor Cleary (St. Joseph’s Miltown)
2. Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge)
8. Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge)
9. Colm Galvin (Clonlara)
10. Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin)
11. Tony Kelly (Ballyea) Captain
18. Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona)
13. Gary Cooney (O’Callaghan’s Mills)
24. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones na Sionna)
15. Podge Collins (Cratloe)
21. Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin) for Golden (HT) Inj
7. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona) for Morey (44)
12. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe) for Galvin (51) Inj
19. Colin Guilfoyle (Newmarket On Fergus) for Shanagher (55)
24. Jason McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona) for Collins (58)
Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny)
*PHOTO – Gary Cooney & Noel Connors in action. Credit: Martin Connolly