Since their defeat to Limerick in the Championship opener, Clare have gone from strength to strength. A tight contest with Laois was followed up by a win over Wexford last weekend. On the other hand, Waterford found themselves in a Munster Final last Sunday but fell short of toppling Limerick. That leaves them with one game less under their belt than Clare ahead of this weekend’s quarter-final.
Firstly, Waterford’s win over Cork was a fantastic one for the county. However, Limerick proved to be too much of a challenge in the Munster Final. In what can be described as the most combative game in the Championship thus far, Waterford were ferocious in their attempt to dethrone Limerick as kings of Munster.
The middle third was the decisive battleground for much of this tie. Waterford opted to go toe-to-toe with Limerick’s physicality. In fact, they achieved that for much of the game and even came out on top on many occasions. At half-time, it was 0-14 to 0-11 to the holders and there was a sense that they would push on in the second-half. But, the opposite unfolded. With 20 minutes left, Waterford had a one-point lead. That’s when Limerick’s squad strength proved to be crucial. They just had more to offer than Waterford in the closing stages and took a four-point win.
In spite of this, Waterford will be encouraged by their performance. Limerick are the strongest team in the country on form and they gave them a massive run. Liam Cahill will be itching for another go at John Kiely’s team.
Meanwhile, Clare emerged from the qualifiers with an impressive win against Wexford. 2013 Player of the Year Tony Kelly again lorded things on his way to a personal 1-15 tally. 10 of those came in the first-half as the Banner men stormed to a 0-13 to 0-3 lead.
The second-half didn’t prove to be as bountiful for them. But, Wexford never came close to threatening the early lead Clare established. When Kelly scored a smashing goal in the 52nd minute, it effectively ended the tie as a contest and Brian Lohan has successfully steered his team to the quarter-finals.
Clare have to prevail in a much tougher contest this weekend if they are to reach the semi-finals.
The quarter-final is live on Sky Sports Mix.
Paddy Power are backing Waterford. They’re 1/2 versus Clare’s 15/8. A draw is 9/1.
Prediction: Waterford. My heart says Clare but my head says Waterford. The Munster runners-up were impressive against Limerick and from numbers 1-15 they may just pack more of a punch.
Waterford : Stephen O’Keeffe; Ian Kenny, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Calum Lyons, Tadhg De Burca, Kevin Moran; Jamie Barron, Jake Dillon; Stephen Bennett, Kieran Bennett, Jack Fagan; Dessie Hutchinson, Austin Gleeson, Jack Prendergast.
Subs: Billy Nolan, Peter Hogan, Mark O’Brien, Mikey Kearney, Patrick Curran, Colin Dunford, Ciaran Kirwan, Darragh Lyons, Neil Montgomery, Iarlaith Daly, Conor Gleeson.
Clare : Eibhear Quilligan; Rory Hayes, Conor Cleary, Patrick O’Connor; Stephen O’Halloran, Aidan McCarthy, Seadna Morey; Jason McCarthy, Tony Kelly; Cathal Malone, David Reidy, David Fitzgerald; Shane O’Donnell, Colin Guilfoyle, Ryan Taylor.
Subs: Donal Tuohy, Diarmuid Ryan, David McInerney, Aron Shanagher, Jack Browne, Gary Cooney, Cathal McInerney, Aaron Cunningham, Paidi Fitzpatrick, Paul Flanagan, Liam Corry.
All-Ireland Hurling Quarter-Final: Waterford vs Clare, Saturday, 21st November, 15:45 (Páirc Uí Chaoimh).
— Clare Gaa (@GaaClare) November 16, 2020