Clare 1-12 Waterford 0-14
Waterford were just edged out by Clare in a highly-entertaining game in the first round of the ESB Munster Minor Hurling Championship at Fraher Field on Wednesday last.
Right to the last blast of referee Colm Lyons’ whistle the outcome was in doubt, with the winning score coming from after a sideline was controversially awarded to the young Bannermen in additional time. A number of spectators sat directly behind the spot claimed the linesman made a mistake and the cut should have been awarded the other way.
Ballygunner’s Pauric Mahony had opened the evening’s scoring a minute after the throw-in when he pointed a free after a foul on De La Salle clubman Jake Dillon.
Conor McGrath responded for Clare with two points in the second and fourth minutes, both from frees. Clashmore’s Brian O’Halloran replied with a brace of points for the home side: the first a beauty in the fifth minute and an equally wonderful effort in the seventh after the ball was laid off to him by John Dee.
Conor McGrath and Pauric Mahony exchanged points in minutes 12 and 13, the latter after a lovely movement that included the impressive Brian O’Halloran.
Patrick O’Connor from distance pointed for Clare on 19 minutes and seven minutes later O’Halloran got his third, a score just as delightful as the previous two.
Eoin Hanrahan pointed from play with three minutes of first-half normal time remaining and in the first minute of additional time Conor McGrath converted a free for Clare to give his side a 0-6 to 0-5 lead at the break.
While the first half saw some good hurling, it could never rival the second 30 minutes for excitement, which had the sizeable attendance from both counties sitting on the edge of their seats.
Clare’s Conor McGrath opened the second-half scoring on three minutes in when he pointed a free and a minute later Daire Keane added another point to put the visitors three in front.
The Déise selectors made changes which included moving Mount Sion’s Martin O’Neill from centre-back to midfield, a move that had a huge effect on the game as he scored eight second-half points. His first came in the 35th minute, and the second two minutes later (both from frees). In between Conor O’Donnell pointed for Clare after entering the game as a sub for Aaron Considine. Martin O’Neill added two further points from frees in a three-minute spell.
Between the 42nd and 43rd minutes both goalkeepers were called into action and each were up to the task. First a Martin O’Neill free dropped short of the Clare goal where Eamon Murphy pulled on the dropping ball but his goal-bound shout was well saved by Clare netminder Ronan Taaffe.
Just seconds later Stephen O’Keeffe proved his worth. Kenny Egan, coming out to clear, let the ball slip from his grasp and David O’Halloran sent a shot towards the Deise goal but the Ballygunner man pulled off a fantastic save.
Martin O’Neill added another point from a free with 16 minutes left to put Waterford a point in front. But with eight minutes remaining Clare were awarded a free on the 65-metre line. Conor McGrath delivered the ball into the Waterford citadel. The sliotar dropped short of the crossbar and it looked as if Stephen O’Keeffe had situation under control. But as he was about to grasp the ball it clipped the top of his fingers and dropped into the net.
Pauric Mahony and Martin O’Neill quickly responded with white flags for Waterford to tie the sides with six minutes remaining. Daire Keane set up a grandstand finish when he pointed for Clare, a score which Martin O’Neill quickly cancelled out from a 65m free.
Conor McGrath then put Clare back in front, but O’Neill quickly replied to level the scoring.
With the fourth official having indicated at least one additional minute, and with heavy mist descending from the mountains lessening the light, many were asking would the intended two 10-minute periods of extra time go ahead if necessary.
Then Clare were awarded that disputed sideline 45 metres from their own goal on the stand side of the field. Gary Guilfoyle took the cut which found its way across to a waiting Conor McGrath on the Waterford 65 and his shot went straight over the crossbar to give Clare a dramatic one-point win.
Waterford: S O’Keeffe; L Egan, T Costello, C Looby; J Dee, M O’Neill, D Fives; Philip Mahony, M Wyse; J Prendergast, B O’Halloran, Paudric Mahony; E Murphy, K Moore, J Dillon. Subs: G Daniels for Looby, R Cahill for Prendergast.
Scorers: Martin O’Neill 0-8, B O’Halloran, Pauric Mahony 0-3 each.
Clare: R Taaffe; N Purcell, C Ryan, T Purcell; C McGuane, P O’Connor, C McInerney; S O’Connor, S Golden; D Keane, E Hanrahan, G Guilfoyle; D O’Halloran, A Considine, C McGrath. Subs. C O’Donnell for Considine, C Ryan for Hanrahan,
Scorers: C McGrath 1-7, D Keane 0-2, P O’Connor, E Hanrahan, C O’Donnell 0-1 each.
Referee: C. Lyons.