Venue: Hennessy Memorial Park, Miltown Malbay.
Clare secured their first win in the U21 Football Championship since 2011 when they accounted for Waterford with a fourteen point victory.
Such was the dominance of the Banner that they only allowed their opponents to get one point in the entire second half. In their first outing under Joint Managers Neil Hawes and Michael O’Shea, Clare impressed from start to finish as they advanced to the Munster Semi-Finals.
Kilmurry/Ibrickane’s Keelan Sexton opened the Banner’s account with three minutes played from a free. Corner-forward Eimhin Courtney added another point, nine minutes in and this was followed shortly after by a Keelan Sexton free. The Nire’s Conor Gleeson finally got Waterford off the mark with a point on the twenty first minute.
Great work from Kilmihil’s Martin O’Leary allowed Jamie Malone to palm the ball past David Whitty in the Waterford net for the game’s first goal. Eimhin Courtney got his second score of the evening with twenty five minutes on the clock to increase Clare’s lead to six points. The Déise replied through the boot of Conor Murray with his effort sailing above the crossbar of Killian Normoyle to leave it 1-04 to 0-02 at the break.
Sexton was first off the mark after half-time as he pointed another effort with the second thirty less than a minute old. Corofin’s Jamie Malone fielded the resulting kick-out and tore the Waterford defence to shreds before smashing the ball to the back of the net to get his second goal.
Further points from Keelan Sexton and Eimhin Courtney pushed Clare’s advantage to thirteen with forty minutes gone. Substitute Conor Cleary made his presence known as he raised a white flag two minutes after being introduced on his home pitch. Waterford got their first and only score of the second half through a Seamus Keating point on the fiftieth minute.
A free from Paddy O’Malley sealed the fourteen win for the Banner and more importantly a place in the last four of Munster where they will face the Premier County in Semple Stadium next Wednesday night.
It is a disappointing defeat for Ger Power and his Waterford side. Some consolation is provided in the fact that when these sides met at minor level, the full time gap was twenty points in favour of Clare and at full time this evening it was fourteen. They weren’t at full strength and having the travel all the way back to Miltown was of little aid to their cause.
Winning at the U21 grade for the first time in over four years is very pleasing for Joint Managers Neil Hawes and Michael O’Shea. While the challenge will be more difficult next week, the performances of Jamie Malone, Keelan Sexton, Martin O’Leary and Eimhin Courtney will have pleased management.
Clare: Killian Normoyle (Lissycasey), Cian O’Mahoney (Doonbeg), Jack O’Dea (Kilfenora), Conor Brennan (Éire Óg), Darren Nagle (Liscannor), Conor O’Brien (St Josephs Doora/Barefield), Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora), Dara Walsh (Éire Óg), Jamie Malone (Corofin) (2-01), Liam Corry (Éire Óg), Paddy O’Malley (Éire Óg) (0-01 1f), Dale Masterson (St Breckans), Martin O’Leary (Kilmihil), Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry/Ibrickane) (0-05 3f), Eimhin Courtney (Éire Óg) (0-03). Subs: Eoin Hanrahan for Walsh (HT), Maccon Byrne (St Breckans) for Corry (36), Conor Cleary (St Josephs Miltown) (0-01) for Masterson (39), Jim Downes (O’Currys) for Sexton (54), Eoin O’Connor (Coolmeen) for Malone (57).
Waterford: David Whitty (Gaultier), Stephen Dalton (De la Salle), Conor Walsh (Rathgormack), Jamie Barron (An Rinn), Jack Mullaney (Stradbally), Tom Devine (Modeligo), Jonathon Fenton (Bunmahon), Dermot Ryan (The Nire), Seamus Keating (Ardmore) (0-01), Michael Curry (Rathgormack), Ferghal Ó Cuirrín (An Rinn), Jason Curry (Rathgormack), Conor Murray (Rathgormack) (0-01), Jason Gleeson (Rathgormack), Conor Gleeson (Rathgormack) (0-01). Subs: Liam Mulligan (Rathgormack) for Fenton (42), Paul O’Connor (Clashmore/Kinsalebeg) for J Curry (44), Brian Looby (Ballinacourty) for Mullanney (48) (BC), Caoimhín McGuire (Gaultier) for J Gleeson (52), Michael Troy (Modeligo) for O’Cuirrín (59), Kenneth Brazil (The Nire) for C Murray (59).
Referee: Kevin Murphy (Cork).