Clare maintained their momentum ahead of a Munster SHC final rematch with Limerick after easing to a comprehensive final round victory over Waterford in Cusack Park Ennis.
In front of 16,144, the Banner persevered their unbeaten start to the championship when leading from start to finish in a dominant display.
With their place in the decider secured in advance, six changes to personnel - including the absence of talisman Tony Kelly - didn't hinder a buoyant Banner who, in targetman Peter Duggan, puck-out magnet Shane O’Donnell and the elusive David Fitzgerald, accounted for 2-16 between them.
Unselfish play from Ian Galvin to set up David Reidy for Clare's opening goal - Live updates on https://t.co/YDJ3X0w72I— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) May 22, 2022
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On the flip side, despite craving a victory to remain in the championship, a below-par Waterford never reached the heights of their Allianz League winning form and would remarkably find themselves trailing by 20 points at one stage of the second half.
A strong breeze favoured the home side in the opening period as they hit the ground running with eight of the first nine points in as many minutes.
Despite losing both Tadhg de Búrca and Jamie Barron to injury early on, Waterford did finally settle with a brace of Patrick Curran frees lessening the damage to five by the end of the opening quarter.
However, a superbly worked move that was finished to the net by the returning David Reidy injected new life in Clare with an injury-time second from David Fitzgerald powering the hosts to a 2-16 to 0-9 interval cushion.
Things would get even bleaker for the Déise on the restart when Fitzgerald raided for his second goal in the 39th minute.
Another goal for Clare, this time from David Fitzgerald as they continue to dominate against Waterford— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) May 22, 2022
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Waterford did grab a brief lifeline when top-scorer Dessie Hutchinson rifled an unstoppable shot to the top right corner, after Stephen Bennett’s quick 20 metre, to leave the score at 3-17 to 1-10 in the 44th minute.
However, it only seemed to anger the hosts who responded with seven of the next eight points inspired by Duggan, O’Donnell and captain Cathal Malone.
Waterford did grab an injury-time consolation goal through Patrick Curran but the final whistle couldn’t come soon enough for the visitors in what has been a forgettable provincial campaign.
In contrast, confidence couldn’t be higher in the Clare camp as they prepare for a first Munster final derby showdown with Limerick since 1995 in FBD Semple Stadium in a fortnight’s time.
Clare: Eibhear Quilligan; Cian Nolan, Conor Cleary, Rory Hayes; Jack Browne, Aaron Fitzgerald, David McInerney (0-02); Shane Golden (0-01), Cathal Malone (0-04); Shane O'Donnell (0-05), David Fitzgerald (2-03), Ryan Taylor (0-02); Ian Galvin (0-01), David Reidy (1-02), Peter Duggan (0-08, 0-03f, 0-02’65, 0-01s/l)
Subs: Shane Meehan (0-01) for Galvin (43), Robin Mounsey (0-02) for Reidy (49), Adam Hogan for Hayes (54), Darragh Lohan for Fitzgerald (56), Eamonn Foudy for Quilligan (59)
Waterford: Shaun O’Brien; Ian Kenny, Tadhg de Búrca, Conor Gleeson; Mark Fitzgerald, Austin Gleeson (0-01), Jack Fagan; Calum Lyons (0-02), Pauric Mahony (0-01); Peter Hogan (0-01), Neil Montgomery, Jack Prendergast; Dessie Hutchinson (1-06), Patrick Curran (1-04, 0-02f), Jamie Barron
Subs: Shane McNulty for de Búrca (4, inj), Stephen Bennett (0-05, 0-03f, 0-01’65) for Barron (11, inj), Kieran Bennett (0-02) for Fagan (31, inj), Micheál Harney for Mahony (HT), DJ Foran for Montgomery (57)
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)