Waterford 3 – 9; Clare 0 – 12
Waterford’s minor hurlers set up a rare Munster final double-bill on July 12th – and a possibly unprecedented title treble – with a superb comeback victory over Clare in sunny Cusack Park, Ennis on Wednesday evening.
A goal and two points by half-time substitute Ian Galgley of Mount Sion swung the tie in the Decies’ favour after they’d trailed 0-9 to 1-2 at the break.
A first-half goal by Clashmore dual star Brian O’Halloran had kept Waterford just about in touch, with Galgley’s strike, after Lismore’s Paudie Prendergast had scored goal number two not long after the turnaround, vital in giving the visitors a deserved win; thus avenging their somewhat unfortunate first-round defeat by the Banner in Dungarvan back in April.
As well as the aforementioned, other Waterford players to impress included Tyrone Costello, Philip Mahoney, John Dee, free-taker Martin O’Neill, and Mark Wyse.
The minors will now play either Tipperary or Cork – who drew in the evening’s other semi – in the decider to be played immediately before Waterford and the Premier senior sides do battle in Thurles on Sunday fortnight.
With the county’s intermediates also in the provincial final – versus Cork on July 22nd – Portláirge hurling looks to be in rude good health. Still, John Mullane insists the stirring win over Limerick “wasn’t about winning and getting into a Munster final – it was about keeping the future of Waterford hurling alive.”
Speaking at the Halifax Gaelic Performance Camps in UCD, Sunday’s man-of-the-match reckoned getting over the All-Ireland final collapse “was massive really and you had the Justin [McCarthy] factor too.”
After drawing “the worst Munster game ever”, the De La Salle star said losing to Limerick “probably would have put Waterford hurling back donkey’s years.”
Nonetheless he’s adamant Waterford have a lot of improving to do yet if they’re to topple Tipp. That and a host of injuries to overcome, what with Ken McGrath expected to be out until August after undergoing a knee operation following the drawn game.
Last weekend’s replay was even more costly casualty-wise. Co-captain Stephen Molumphy strained medial knee ligaments; Kevin Moran was also forced from the fray having twisted his ankle; while Noel Connors suffered a suspected hand fracture that required two half-time injections.
*Waterford Minors v Clare: S O’Keeffe; L Egan, T Costello, M Wyse; J Dee, Philip Mahoney, D Fives; K Moore, M O’Neill (0-5, 4f); F Murray (0-1), R Cahill, B O’Halloran (1-0); P Prendergast (1-0), J Dillon (0-1), Paudie Mahoney. Subs: I Galgey (1-2) for Moore (30).