Clare win through to All-Ireland final
Clare 1-16 Waterford 1-13
Clare are through to the All-Ireland hurling final after a three point victory over Munster rivals Waterford at Croke Park this afternoon.
Waterford will rue a disappointing second half performance as they had matched Clare outfield but lacked conviction in front of the posts.
Waterford flew out of the blocks and were four points ahead after just five minutes - Eoin Kelly enjoying a dream start by smacking over the first two scores inside 90 seconds.
Although Clare were visibly shook by Waterford’s impressive start, they soon settled and chipped away at their opponent’s lead with scores from Tony Griffen and Colin Lynch.
The game developed a familiar pattern with Waterford opening up a sizeable advantage only for Clare to pick away and reduce their lead to a brace of scores.
But Waterford applied a cruel blow in the 22nd minute when sharp shooter Paul Flynn caught the Clare defence off guard and found the net with a close range free.
Waterford were now five points to the good but time and again they gifted their opponents a lifeline. Jamesie O’Connor was most oblidging and scored two quick scores to peel away at Waterford’s lead.
While Waterford idled in front, Clare remained composed and pulled a goal back on half-time.
David Forde whipped a tantalising ball across the Waterford defence to Alan Markham who was well positioned. He hammered home despite the diving efforts of ‘keeper Brenner.
With his confidence soaring, Markham then leveled proceedings with a point one minute later before Clare edged the half-time lead (1-10 to 1-9) with an injury time free.
Waterford started the second half brightly with Tony Browne sending over a majestic sideline cut from distance. But, disappointingly, it proved to be only one of four second half scores for Justin McCarthy’s men.
Clare themselves hardly set the second half alight but defended tenaciously to quash Waterford’s scattered attacks.
Kelly added his fourth point of the day with 10 minutes remaining, while Flynn slotted over a free to leave Waterford three points off the lead and give their fans a glimmer of hope.
But there was to be no fairytale as Clare substitute Ollie Baker capitalised on a splendid move to thump over a late score and confirm Clare’s appointment in next month’s All-Ireland final.