Famous Five: Waterford-Clare clashes
09:20, 14 Jun 2012
1938 Waterford 3-05 Clare 2-05
Waterford had showed some decent pedigree in the years leading into this final so their first Munster title was not all that much of a shock when it finally came in 1938. Strangely, this was one of only two times in the history of the championship that Clare and Waterford lined out for the Munster final side by side. Of course, there was a seeded draw in the province for a long time that facilitated a large amount of finals between Cork and Tipperary, which partly explains the situation. It was a full 60 years before the sides met again in a provincial decider…
1998 Clare 1-16 Waterford 3-10; Clare 2-16 Waterford 0-10
… and when they did we saw the teams fight it out twice before we got a winner. Waterford captain Fergal Hartley played in the final, against Ger Loughnane’s aggressive All Ireland champions: “We felt the only way to beat Clare was to meet fire with fire and, I suppose somewhere along the way, sparks were going to fly.” That they did as Waterford tore into the opposition and Clare, who had PJ O’Connell sent off late on, were lucky that Paul Flynn could not convert a late free to win. There were also slightly humorous scenes in that the opposing managements teams were effectively marking each other on the sidelines. The second day was even fiercer as skirmishes broke out frequently; Colin Lynch’s indiscriminate pulling at the throw-in landed him a three-month ban, followed a summer of high court battles and recriminations. Meanwhile Clare won the game at a canter and Anthony Daly lifted the Munster Cup. A crazy final, and a crazy season, but vintage stuff.
2002 Clare 1-16 Waterford 1-13
Waterford had just won their first Munster title in 39 years by outbattling All Ireland champions Tipperary in the provincial final. That put Na Déise straight into the All Ireland semi-final where they met a Clare team that had beaten Dublin and Wexford in the qualifiers and Galway in the quarter-final. Justin McCarthy’s side looked good early in the game as they opened up a 0-07 to 0-02 lead inside 12 minutes before Paul Flynn hit the net, but an unforgivable 17 wides overall allowed the Banner back into it. Sloppy defending by Peter Queally resulted in David Ford taking possession and setting up Alan Markham for a goal before the break so, after starting poorly, Clare took the upperhand and went in a point to the good. The Banner were in the ascendancy in the second half and deserved their three-point win, and a third All Ireland final in eight years. Waterford would have to wait until 2008 to finally reach a final.
2004 Waterford 3-21 Clare 1-08
Of course, Cyril Lyons’ Clare didn’t quite manage to go all the way in 2002 because of DJ Carey and the Cats in the All Ireland final, and that signalled something of a last hurrah for many of the Clare players who had revolutionised modern hurling. After beating Tipperary in the 2003 championship, Clare would not get another win in the Munster championship until 2008 (see below) while Waterford established themselves as hurling’s sexy team, and purely for hurling reasons. However, they went into the game on the back of losing the league final to Galway and so a 19-point win made a mockery of the spread offered. John Mullane opened the scoring after 15 seconds as Waterford accrued 1-06 before Clare even got their first score after 27 long minutes. At that point, the jig was pretty much up for Anthony Daly’s men. Dan Shanahan, in just his second championship start for McCarthy, was the star of the show with a hat-trick of goals in a marvellous display.
2008 Clare 2-26 Waterford 0-23
This was the day when Justin McCarthy got a very public boot in the behind from Dan Shanahan and the Waterford team; the moment when the always talented John Mullane announced himself as the new spiritual leader of the Decies; and the day for a Munster crown to be relinquished as the NHL one had just been. Sure, Waterford had plenty of injuries on the day but most of those who played on the day might as well have stayed at home. The spirits were low and the effort was not what we had come to expect from this exciting bunch of players. Dan the Man, suffering from a knee injury, had a poor game and blanked his manager on his way off the pitch when being substituted. Man of the match Mullane stood up and out though, hitting eight points and giving a sole positive to this nine-point loss. Without him, they wouldn’t have been within an ass’s roar of an All Ireland final that year; though they probably wished they weren’t by the end of it. For Clare, this was a first Munster championship win since 2003 and Niall Gilligan celebrated his 50th championship game for the Banner with a green flag to match his county’s record SHC goalscorer Jimmy Smith.