Waterford 1-23 Clare 1-20
A Patrick Curran inspired Waterford won what's likely to be their final match at Walsh Park for at least two years as they saw off Clare in an entertaining Allianz Hurling League Division 1A encounter in front of a 2,656-strong crowd.
Curran’s 1-13 haul proved the major difference between the sides but wasn’t enough to avoid a relegation playoff with Cork, while Clare’s place in the quarter-finals was already assured prior to throw-in.
At the break, Waterford led by 1-13 to 1-10, having initially risen slowly from the blocks. Peter Duggan got the visitors off the mark with a free after 72 seconds, with Déise wing back Kieran Bennett levelling matters after three minutes.
Duggan converted Clare's second free in the fourth minute, while Patrick Curran opened his account with a sixth-minute free from 35 metres. Banner wing forward David Reidy finished off a sweeping move involving David McInerney, David Fitzgerald and Conor McGrath after nine minutes, with Cathal Malone extending Clare's lead following a fine surge and strike barely 60 seconds later. Ian Galvin capitalised on a rare error by Tadhg de Burca to send the white flag upward in the 11th minute but a further free from Curran left Waterford just two points in arrears after 12.
Waterford goalkeeper Ian O'Regan comfortably handed Peter Duggan's 13th-minute goal attempt, and from the resulting attack, Conor Gleeson thundered down the inside right channel to bisect the County End uprights.
Tony Kelly mustered an immediate reply for Clare with a fine point, with Shane O'Donnell's subsequent effort leaving three points between the sides by the quarter-hour mark.
Stephen Bennett opened his account for Waterford after DJ Foran had lost his footing in the 16th minute, but the Clare support collectively rose to celebrate Conor McGrath's goal from point-blank range following Ian Galvin's composed assist to go five points clear.
And when Seanda Morey bombed forward from the half-back line to rifle over a superb 18th-minute point, matters were bubbling nicely from a Banner perspective.
But Waterford regrouped with vigour between then and the interval, with Patrick Curran marshalling the hosts' recovery. The Dungarvan clubman turned over frees in the 22nd, 24th and 27th minutes, with Mikey Kearney, captain Kevin Moran and Curran, this time from play, restoring parity by the 29th minute.
Two minutes later, Curran sent Waterford ahead before David Reidy ended a quarter-hour wait for Clare’s next score.
But Curran immediately replied for the Deise, scooping the sliothar beyond Donal Tuohy after Stephen Bennett's initial effort had been blocked. Clare's Ian Galvin completed the first-half scoring in additional time.
The second half proved a largely end to end affair on a surface which has recovered remarkably well in the wake of Storm Emma.
Clare got back on level terms in both the 44th and 52nd minutes with John Conlon and Tony Kelly both impressing but Waterford, primarily through Curran and ably assisted by Kearney, edged back ahead in the closing quarter.
A second yellow card for Conor Gleeson in the closing moments didn't deter a Waterford side whose attacking compliment was boosted by the introductions of both Tom Devine and Tommy Ryan. Heading into the quarter-final, Clare ought to draw solace from ending the afternoon with nine different scorers.
WATERFORD: I O'Regan; S Fives, B Coughlan, I Kenny; T de Búrca, A Gleeson (0-1), K Bennett (0-1); M O'Brien, C Gleeson (0-1); K Moran (0-1), S Bennett (0-2), DJ Foran; M Walsh, M Kearney (0-4), P Curran (1-13; six frees).
Subs: T Devine for M Walsh and T Ryan for DJ Foran (both 50 mins), C Prunty for M O'Brien (54), M Shanahan for K Moran (61), Philip Mahony for S Bennett (70).
CLARE: D Tuohy; P O'Connor, C Cleary, J Browne; S Morey (0-1), D McInerney, D Fitzgerald; C Malone (0-1), T Kelly (0-4); I Galvin (0-2), J Conlon (0-2), D Reidy (0-3); S O'Donnell (0-1), P Duggan (0-5, four frees), C McGrath (1-1).
Subs: M O'Malley for S Morey (52 mins), J Shanahan for P O'Connor (60), C McInerney for C Malone (67), R Taylor for I Galvin (68), P Flanagan for J Browne (69).
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).