Waterford inflicted a fourteen point hammering on Munster rivals Clare in the quarter-final of the Allianz National Hurling League at Walsh Park.

The home side trailed by two points at the break but took full advantage of the strong breeze after the interval, outscoring Clare 0-20 to just 0-4 in front of an official attendance of 2,753.

Clare had both Conor Cleary and Peter Duggan sent off in the second half but the die was well cast by that stage. A superb individual scoring performance from Stephen Bennett who landed sixteen points in all, with strong support from Kevin Moran, Pauric Mahony and in particular Austin Gleeson; laid the foundations for this facile victory.

Clare played with the strong breeze in the opening half and in a lively opening the sides shared eight points evenly in the opening eight minutes. Tony Kelly nabbed two of these scores with delightful strikes from centre-field rousing the visiting Clare supporters.

All-Star Peter Duggan then nailed two frees in succession and when the same player converted a penalty following Shane McNulty’s foul on Gary Cooney, the Banner had opened a 1-6 to 0-4 advantage after 15 minutes. An unerring Stephen Bennett converted three frees in succession to reduce the margin to just two points by the end of the first quarter.

Waterford, with Austin Gleeson and Pauric Mahony both showing up well in attack, managed to keep the margin to just two points all the way to the break. However, the home side was fortunate not to concede a second goal when Gary Cooney really should have done better with only goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe to beat following Shane Golden’s long delivery in the 33rd minute.

The slender two point margin always looked insufficient given the strength of the breeze and so it transpired. Waterford hit nine out of ten points inside the first 15 minutes on the second half to take a six-point lead and take command of the tie.

Indeed Clare managed just four points in the second half with Tony Kelly’s 64th minute point their only second half score from play.Clare’s short passing game frequently broke down and into the breeze they struggled to get out of their own half.

The majestic Austin Gleeson landed three superb second half points in a marked return to form, while Peter Hogan and Pauric Mahony both also registered a pair of white flags each during a dominant second half display from the Déise.

Conor Cleary received a straight red for a high challenge on Stephen Bennett after 62 minutes by which time Clare already trailed by eight points. A miserable afternoon for the Banner men was complete when Peter Duggan was also dismissed in injury time for a second bookable offence.

These sides will meet again on May 12th in the opening round of the Munster Hurling Championship, but Waterford will first face Galway in the League semi-finals next weekend

Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe, Shane McNulty (0-1), Callum Lyons , Noel Connors, Colm Roche (0-1), Philip Mahony, Kevin Moran, Jamie Barron, Jack Prendergast, Austin Gleeson (0-5), Pauric Mahony (0-5), Mikey Kearney, Shane Bennett (0-1 lineball) , Stephen Bennett (0-16, 0-14f), Peter Hogan (0-2).

Subs: Colin Dunford for Jack Prendergast (56m), Maurice Shanahan for Mikey Kearney 58m), Stephen Roche for Jamie Barron and D.J. Foran for Shane Bennett (66m), Michael Walsh for Austin Gleeson (69m).

Clare: Donal Tuohy, Patrick O’Connor, David McInerney, Jack Browne, Seadna Morey, Conor Cleary (0-1), Cathal Malone (0-2), Shane Golden, Colm Galvin, Peter Duggan (1-7, 0-6f, 1-0p, 0-1 lineball), Tony Kelly (0-3), Aidan McCarthy,  Gary Cooney, Aaron Shanagher (0-1), Podge Collins.

Subs: Ryan Taylor for Shane Golden (ht), David Fitzgerald for Seadna Morey (45m), Diarmuid Ryan for Colm Galvin (51m), Colin Guilfoyle for Aaron Shanagher (55m), Michael O’Malley for Podge Collins (58m).

Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).