Clare have upper hand of history

Sunday’s clash represents the 25th such fixture involving two counties at extreme ends of the province, with the Banner colours marginally in front with eleven wins, and the Decies standard-bearers successful on nine occasions (4 matches have been drawn in the 24-game series to date).

Two of recorded wins hardly count at all as the first listed showdown way back in 1895 failed to materialise, with Waterford given a walkover, and Clare scratched, and the situation was repeated in 1911, when after an extraordinary 1-1 draw at Fermoy, the Decies men didn’t turn up for the replay, and eliminated.

Of course those were the days when it was a hit and miss experience for many counties and in both codes, due in the main to troubled times throughout the land, but from the early 1920s on, organisation of games became more certain, the standard and quality of hurling improved out of all recognition, and today there is simply no game on earth to surpass it.

Oddly enough Waterford had to wait until 1925 to record their first win over Clare on the field of play and that took place at then Sportsfield, now Walsh Park. Two years later it was Clare’s turn for revenge when they triumphed in a high scoring Fraher Field and nine seasons would go by before their paths would cross again, this time at Fermoy in 1936, where Clare again came out on top in another goal-ridden affair.

The next five meetings between the counties all went Waterford’s way. 1938 was a famous year in the story of Decies hurling as it brought a first ever Munster Senior Hurling triumph, achieved at the expense of Clare in the final at the Cork Athletic Grounds.

Waterford and Clare senior hurlers avoided each other for a full decade until they met in the penultimate round at Semple Stadium in May 1948 where the Decies, led by Erin’s Own’s Jim Ware, came out on top, and of course went on to bring the coveted McCarthy Cup back to Waterford for the first time ever.

Next up came the 1952 confrontation at Thurles, when for the second time ever a draw was recorded, but Waterford had six points to spare in the replay.

A further ten years elapsed before the counties lock horns again on the Munster championship circuit: their 1962 meeting saw Waterford romp home the most comprehensive of winners, 4-11 to 3-0, but then the tide turned very much in favour of the Banner hurlers as they won five times on the trot (all in Thurles at first round level), starting in 1968: 1-12 to 2-8; 1980: 3-13 to 2-11,; 1981: 3-14 to 2-14; 1984: 0-15 to 2-8, and in 1988 by 3-12 to 3-10.

All of those games were close encounters and the tide eventually turned in 1989 when Waterford ran out the easiest of winners, 5-13 to 1-10. In 1992 their first round tie finished all square, before Waterford again narrowly won the replay by 0-16 to 0-14.

Six years later championship rivalry resumed in the Munster Final of 1998, and a full house at Thurles watched yet another draw but in a somewhat tempestuous second helping Clare eventually took the spoils on a 2-16 to 0-10 scoreline.

Yet a day of reckoning arrived with a vengeance in 2004 when immediately in the wake of a League Final defeat at the hands of Galway, Waterford took the familiar road to Thurles and recorded their biggest ever win over Clare (3-21 to 1-8) in the last championship meeting between the counties.

For full story see The Munster Express newspaper or
subscribe to our Electronic edition.

Leave a Comment