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Tony Kelly fires 1-12 as Clare get off to bright start in Munster with win over Waterford

Brian Lohan’s team had four points to spare in this quarter-final.

Clare 1-22

Waterford 0-21

THE FINAL POINT of this Munster hurling afternoon, that was of the low-key rather than heart-stopping variety, turned out to be an insurance score as Tony Kelly tapped over the bar for Clare.

tony-kelly-celebrates-scoring-a-late-point Tony Kelly celebrates scoring a late point for Clare. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

That settled it at last to ensure that Clare would begin their summer in an upbeat fashion, but in truth this encounter should never have unravelled to generate some Banner anxiety.

They were by far the more dominant team, Brian Lohan’s men getting to the pitch of the game from the off and rattling off the first four points to ensure Waterford were always in chase mode. Clare were nine points to the good at the break, in front by the same margin as they retreated for the second-half water break and yet Waterford hunted them down in the finale.

After a hitherto listless showing, the 2020 All-Ireland finalists struck 0-7 between the 60th and 70th minutes. Austin Gleeson hit the last of them and suddenly they were only three adrift, 1-21 to 0-21.

stephen-bennett-and-conor-cleary Stephen Bennett and Conor Cleary. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

But Clare closed the game out, Tony Kelly again showing the way with that last point to ensure he compiled an overall return of 1-12, the goal supplied from a penalty and five points whipped over from play. John Conlon was in masterful form in the Clare defence but 22 wides is illustrative of the key area that they need to tend to before facing Tipperary next Sunday.

Waterford were sluggish for so long in this match. They mounted that late rally, aided by a scoring touch from their substitutes while Stephen Bennett (0-12) and Gleeson (0-4) were the most proficient of their starting side.

tony-kelly Clare's scoring star Tony Kelly. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The game was shaped by the level of dominance Clare exerted in the first half. They may have been nine points in arrears at the finish when these counties played an All-Ireland qualifier last November, but they enjoyed that margin of supremacy by the break here, 1-13 to 0-7 in front.

It really should have been a more substantial lead. Clare hit nine wides in the first quarter alone and 14 over the half, their shot selection was rash at times as they launched efforts from distance.

But they still found their range at times. Kelly bagged 1-6 and had rifled over three points inside the first five minutes, including a couple of sublime shots from play.

ryan-taylor-and-shane-fives Ryan Taylor and Shane Fives. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The goal was a critical moment. Clare were ahead 0-10 to 0-6 and struggling to illustrate their territorial supremacy where it mattered most. Then Aron Shanagher wriggled clear and while he did release a shot, Shane Fives had fouled him in the process and was sent to the sin bin.

Kelly subsequently cracked the penalty to the net and Clare could start to feel better about themselves. David Reidy, Ryan Taylor and Aidan McCarthy all shot 0-2 apiece in the first half, while Diarmuid Ryan and particularly Conlon were excelled in the exchanges in the half-back line.

Waterford’s difficulties were expressed most vividly by the fact that Gleeson was their only first-half scorer from play. His two points were precisely struck from the wing but he hurled for most of the half at wing-back and their forward line was a largely blunt unit.

Matters didn’t improve noticeably after the break for Waterford. Four of their substitutes raised white flags and Stephen Bennett kept fighting but they never threatened Eibhear Quilligan’s goalmouth for the strike that could have shunted the game onto a different course.

Despite their inaccuracy in attack, Clare were strong at the back and that was the platform on which to build the promising championship start that they sought.

Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 1-12 (0-7f, 1-0 pen), Aidan McCarthy 0-3, David Reidy Ian Galvin, Ryan Taylor 0-2 each, Diarmuid Ryan 0-1.

Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 0-12 (0-10f), Austin Gleeson 0-4, Calum Lyons, Patrick Curran, Kieran Bennett, Neil Montgomery, Mikey Kearney 0-1 each.

Clare

1. Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

4. Paul Flanagan (Ballyea), 3. Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay), 2. Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones)

5. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), 6. John Conlon (Clonlara), 7. Páidí Fitzpatrick (Sixmilebridge)

8. Colm Galvin (Clonlara), 10. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge),

15. Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona), 11. David Reidy (Éire Óg), 12. Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin)

14. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones), 9. Tony Kelly (Ballyea), 13. Ian Galvin (Clonlara)

Subs

18. David McInerney (Tulla) for Fitzpatrick (50)

22. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona) for Ian Galvin (57)

19. Mark Rodgers (Scarriff) for Reidy (61)

20. Domhnall McMahon (Michael Cusacks) for Colm Galvin (66)

25. Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge) for Aidan McCarthy (70)

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Waterford

1. Billy Nolan (Roanmore)

3. Conor Gleeson (Fourmilewater), 5. Calum Lyons (Ballyduff Lower), 2. Shane Fives (Tourin)

4. Shane McNulty (De La Salle), 6. Iarlaith Daly (Lismore), 8. Austin Gleeson (Mount Sion)

7. Kevin Moran (De La Salle), 9. Darragh Lyons (Dungarvan)

11. Jack Fagan (De La Salle), 10. Peter Hogan (Ballygunner), 15. Jack Prendergast (Lismore)

13. Dessie Hutchinson (Ballygunner), 12. Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart – captain), 14. Shane Bennett (Ballysaggart)

Subs

21. Kieran Bennett (Ballysaggart) for Moran (33)

19. Patrick Curran (Dungarvan) for Fagan (44)

22. Neil Montgomery (Abbeyside) for Prendergast (47)

20. Billy Power (Clonea) for Lyons (52)

23. Mikey Kearney (Ballyduff Upper) for Hogan (63)

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Semple Stadium

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