A WEEK AGO Semple Stadium was the scene of Waterford hurling heartbreak on the senior stage but there was never a sense of a repeat at U21 level this afternoon.
Waterford – Munster champions recently for the first time since 1994 at this grade – hit five goals as they cruised past Antrim by 29 points in their Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling semi-final clash at the Thurles venue.
Senior player Patrick Curran hit the net twice while other members of Derek McGrath’s squad also raised green flags with Stephen Bennett and Tom Devine both on the scoresheet.
Bennett had celebrated in the first-half when the ball ended up in the Antrim net but it transpired that the last touch went off Saffron defender Eoin McManus for an own goal.
Antrim had a rare moment of cheer when Saul McCaughan hammered a shot to the net after half-time of a game where they trailed 3-10 to 0-6 at the break.
But there was no disputing the Deise dominance as they ensured the county will contest an U21 hurling decider on 10 September for only the third time and the first since 1992.
Waterford laid the foundations early on in this match and ensured there was never a chance of Antrim reprising the county’s famous upset against Wexford in 2013. They had 2-5 on the board by the time Antrim first scored with Devine lashing home in the 12th minute and the own goal occurring four minutes later.
Saul McCaughan did his best to instil hope in the Antrim challenge with some well-taken scores but then Patrick Curran batted home Waterford’s third goal before the break after Stephen Bennett’s shot had been saved.
McCaughan may have netted Antrim early in the second-half but Waterford’s dominance was absolute as they racked up 2-15 after the break.
Patrick Curran’s deft handpass released Stephen Bennett for a fine goal and Curran lashed home Waterford’s fifth goal himself.
Scorers for Waterford: Patrick Curran 2-7 (0-4f), Tom Devine 1-2, Stephen Bennett 1-1, DJ Foran, Mikey Kearney (0-1 sideline) 0-4 each, E McManus 1-0 (OG), Austin Gleeson 0-2, Shane Bennett, Mark O’Brien, Adam Farrell, Peter Hogan, Jack Fagan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Antrim: Saul McCaughan 1-4 (0-3f), Maoi Connolly 0-2 (1f), Domhnall Nugent, D McMullan (0-1f) 0-1 each.
1. Gavin Power
2. William Hahessy (Clonea)
3. Conor Gleeson (Fourmilewater)
4. Darragh Lyons (Dungarvan)
5. Míchéal Harney (Bunmahon)
6. Austin Gleeson (Mount Sion)
7. Conor Prunty (Abbeyside)
12. Colm Roche (Shamrocks)
15. Shane Bennett (Ballysaggart)
13. Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart)
11. Tom Devine (Modeligo)
8. Mark O’Brien (Ferrybank)
9. Mikey Kearney (Ballyduff Upper)
10. DJ Foran (Portlaw)
14. Patrick Curran (Dungarvan) – (Joint Captain)
18. Peter Hogan (Ballygunner) for Shane Bennett (17 mins)
17. Adam Farrell (De La Salle) for Roche (39 mins)
22. Billy O’Keeffe (Ballygunner) for Lyons (42 mins)
21. Jack Fagan (De La Salle) for Devine (44 mins)
20. Dermot Ryan (Fourmilewater) for Gleeson (50 mins).
16. Ryan Elliott (Dunloy)
2. Gerard Walsh (O’Donovan Rossa)
3. Tomás Burns (Armoy)
4. Eoin McManus (Ruairí Óg Cushendall)
5. Damon McMullan (Loughgiel Shamrocks)
6. Paddy Burke (Ruairí Óg Cushendall)
7. Ryan McCambridge (Ruairí Óg Cushendall)
8. Cormac Ross (Whitehall Colmcilles)
9. Alec Delargy (Ruairí Óg Cushendall)
10. Maoi Connolly (Loughgiel Shamrocks)
11. Domhnail Nugent (Lámh Dhearg)
12. James O’Connell (Clooney Gaels)
15. Saul McCaughan (Ballycastle MacQuillans)
14. TT Butler (Ballycastle MacQuillans)
13. Ryan McKee (Loughgiel Shamrocks)
21. James Connolly (O’Donovan Rossa) for Ross (25 mins)
20. Ryan Gillan (Naomh Eanna) for Walsh (40 mins)
18. Christy McNaughton (Ruairí Óg Cushendall) for Nugent (43 mins)
17. Cormac McAllister (Ruairí Óg Cushendall) for O’Connell (47 mins)
19. Ryam Delargy (Ruairí Óg Cushendall) for McManus (52 mins)
Referee: David Hughes (Carlow)