Waterford through to Munster final
Monday, June 07, 2010
Waterford are through to the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship final after a 0-22 to 1-15 defeat of Clare at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Monday afternoon. Davy Fitzgerald's side trailed by four points after playing into the wind in the first half, but a much-improved second-half display, inspired by the excellent Tony Browne and the Prendergast bothers, Seamus and Declan, saw them produce a blistering finish that a young Banner side could not handle. The Déise will play either Limerick or Cork in the Munster final next month at the same venue.
Waterford nudged two points clear in the opening stages, as Stephen Molumphy and John Mullane were on target. Clare looked nervous and there were fears that they would be over-run by a far more experienced side. However, Clare soon found their feet and three points in a two-minute spell gave them the confidence they needed. John Conlon ensured all of the Banner's half-forward line were on target in the first ten minutes.
Clare's pace in the half-forward line was causing serious problems for the Déise in the opening quarter, with Sean Collins (two) and midfielder Nicky O'Connell hitting the target three times for Ger O'Loughlin's side in that spell, nudging them 0-7 to 0-3 ahead after 20 minutes. Waterford were clearly struggling to win any possession in the middle of the field and were it not for four points from Eoin Kelly - three of which came from frees - they might have been even further in arrears. As the half wore on, Davy Fitzgerald, the Waterford boss, switched Maurice Shanahan and Mullane and the ploy worked as both players were on target to reduce the deficit to two points, 0-9 to 0-7, just before the break.
However, the Banner engineered a goal in the 34th minute as Darrach Honan won a breaking ball in the full-forward line and the rangy number 14 unleashed a rocket past Clinton Hennessy, the Waterford goalkeeper. Colin Ryan added a point in the next attack and the underdogs led by four, 1-10 to 0-9, at the break. Kevin Moran and Kelly tagged on late scores for Waterford to reduce the damage done in the first half.
Moran gave Waterford the perfect start with a point on the resumption of play and Molumphy added his second of the afternoon to halve the lead Clare took into the break.
Honan responded with a point for Clare, but Declan Prendergast and Maurice Shanahan soon had the gap down to a minimum. Clare were coming under increasing pressure playing into the breeze and their half-back line began to exert their influence in the opening stages of the second half. Mullane levelled the game for the third time in the 44th minute as the intensity of the game gradually cranked up. Waterford resumed the lead for the first time in 38 minutes when Molumphy knocked over his third of the afternoon to give his side a 0-16 to 1-12 advantage with 21 minutes left on the clock.
Honan, the star of Clare's U21 All-Ireland triumph last year, was causing Waterford full-back Liam Lawlor all sorts of problems, and he brought his total to 1-3 for the afternoon with 16 minute left to edge O'Loughlin's men into the lead once again. But the lead changed hands with great regularity in a thrilling contest, with Kelly levelling the game with a fine point from play from inside his own half. Seamus Prendergast, just on as a sub, had Waterford ahead once again. Waterford's senior players, including the always inspirational Browne, came into their own and they scored the last three points of the game to secure a place in the Munster final. Clare had an opportunity to level the game from a free, but once again they were punished for a poor wide when Kelly scored his sixth point of the game and Ken McGrath, who came on as a second-half substitute, hit a point before Seamus Prendergast delivered the insurance score in injury time.