Clare 2-24 Waterford 1-22

Clare will contest their first final under Brian Lohan after holding off Waterford on a 2-24 to 1-22 scoreline in their Munster Hurling Cup clash at Cusack Park.

In front of a healthy 1,817 attendance, a goal nearing the end of both halves proved decisive as Mark Rodgers' 27th minute strike put the home side into the ascendency while substitute Shane Meehan, who finished with 1-03, made an immediate impact in the final quarter to halt an Austin Gleeson-led Waterford fightback.

Allied to impressive displays from Jason McCarthy, Paul Flanagan, Conor Cleary, Diarmuid Ryan and David Reidy, who top-scored with nine points, the Banner fully merited their opening victory of the season, having led from the 24th minute to the finish.

All that after an expectedly ring-rusty start as the sides struck as many wides as scores in the opening quarter. Waterford were more threatening to lead by 0-05 to 0-03 by the water break including a brace for Patrick Curran.

Two goal chances were spurned however as Austin Gleeson's driving run was smothered while Michael Kiely just cleared the crossbar following an incisive run from the ever-threatening Colin Dunford.

Clare decisively snatched back the whip hand in the second quarter though, with four of the first five points, two from David Reidy, bolstered by a timely goal for Mark Rodgers. Fielding Diarmuid Ryan’s clearance to turn his marker, the Scariff native bore down on goal and bat to the net to put the hosts into the ascendency at 1-07 to 0-06.

With Waterford beginning to misfire, Clare didn’t take full advantage and would see their eventual five-point cushion lessened somewhat by the break thanks to late points from guiding light Patrick Curran and Billy Power at 1-10 to 0-10.

Mark Rodgers fires home Clare's first goal

Clare did maintain their superiority in the third quarter as Reidy (0-03) pulled the strings to ensure a 1-16 to 0-14 margin which would be subsequently extended to seven by the 60th minute.

A superb flowing move involving Michael Kiely and Patrick Curran was emphatically volleyed to the net by Austin Gleeson a minute later. However, any murmurings of a recovery would be quashed when Meehan was quickest to react to a Shaun O’Brien save from Cathal Malone to flick the rebound over the line followed by the brace of points to move the hosts unassailably clear.

Austin Gleeson still had time to add three more points in injury time but it is Clare who deservedly march onto next Saturday’s Munster Hurling Cup final against either Limerick or Kerry.

Clare: Eibhear Quilligan; Darragh Lohan, Conor Cleary, Paul Flanagan; Diarmuid Ryan (0-02), Jason McCarthy (0-01), Rory Hayes; Jack Browne, Paddy Donnellan; Cathal Malone (0-03), David Reidy (0-09, 0-05f, 0-01 '65), Shane Golden (0-01); Aron Shanagher (0-01), Mark Rodgers (1-01), Gary Cooney (0-01).

Subs: Mike Gough for Lohan (ht), Domhnall McMahon (0-01) for Shanagher (ht), Ian Galvin (0-01) for Cooney (53), Shane Meehan (1-03) for Rodgers (53), Darren O’Brien for Browne (58), Colm Galvin for Donnellan (60), Aaron Fitzgerald for Malone (67).

Waterford: Shaun O’Brien; Conor Gleeson, Darragh Lynch, Iarlaith Daly; Shane McNulty, Tom Barron, Conor Dalton; Cian Wadding, Billy Power (0-01); Michael Kiely (Abbeyside) (0-01), Austin Gleeson (1-05), DJ Foran (0-02); Patrick Curran (0-09, 0-08f), Shane Bennett (0-02), Colin Dunford (0-02).

Subs: Carthach Daly for Lynch (ht), Seamus Keating for Wadding (46), Sam Fitzgerald for McNulty (47), Gavin Fives for Foran (53), Ian Beecher for Kiely (53), Michael Kiely (Dungarvan) for I Daly (55), Kiely for Bennett (57), Billy Nolan for O’Brien (65).

Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary).