Waterford dumped out of Championship as Clare cruise to comfortable victory
Clare 3-31 Waterford 2-22
Waterford's season has ended in despairing fashion with an embarrassing 12-point defeat to a Clare side already qualified for a Munster hurling final.
League champions just seven weeks ago, this final Munster SHC round game in Ennis felt beyond them as early as the 24th minute when David Reidy banged in Clare's first goal, putting the home side eight points clear, 1-12 to 0-7.
Clare had wind advantage but there was a vibe off Waterford that just didn't align with a team that was fighting for its survival and they were cut apart by Clare players who were clearly out to make a firm statement.
Clare manager Brian Lohan made six changes but the 'dilution' hardly seemed to matter as they tore into Waterford from the off.
Shane O'Donnell, who almost didn't return earlier in the season because of a concussion issue, and Peter Duggan, back from his travels this year, were to the fore while David Fitzgerald, who scored 2-3 and is really revelling in his move up front, was also rampant.
By the break it was 2-16 to 0-9 in Clare's favour and at one stage the gap was 17 points early in the second half after David Fitzgerald grabbed his second goal for a 3-16 to 0-9 lead, quickly followed by a Shane Golden point.
Waterford were completely listless in that opening half, inexcusable really given that they, first and foremost, had to hold up their side of the bargain and win while hoping for a positive outcome in Thurles.
Maybe they saw the Clare team sheet missing Tony Kelly, John Conlon and others from recent meetings and felt it was teed up for them to ease their way into it.
But Clare hit them with everything and hard in the opening minutes, easing into a 0-8 to 0-1 lead in eight minutes. Waterford's lack of desire was palpable and their puck-out in those early minutes was ransacked by a ravenous home side.
Eventually they got a foothold through Peter Hogan and got to within three points, 0-8 to 0-5 by the end of the first quarter.
But Clare took off again and almost had their first goal when Duggan extended that long arm of his to get a touch on a Conor Cleary delivery but Shaun O'Brien dived brilliantly on 19 minutes to parry with Ian Galvin snapping over from the rebound.
They eventually got through when Duggan applied enough pressure on Shane McNulty near the sideline, putting David Fitzgerald in and with a neat pass across the goalmouth Galvin had set up Reidy.
Clare had the wind and were able to find their range from distance but Waterford had switched out and gave them all the room they needed.
Fitzgerald's first goal on 36 minutes came after great approach work from Duggan and O'Donnell.
The second half was loose and the 16,144 in attendance were more disengaged as shots flew over without pressure applied from either side and by the end there had been 58 scores.
Waterford clawed ground back with a late Patrick Curran goal while Dessie Hutchinson finished with 1-6. But it was a day and a campaign they'll want to forget.
Clare: D Fitzgerald 2-3, P Duggan 0-8 (3fs, 2 65s, 1 sl), S O'Donnell 0-5, D Reidy 1-2, C Malone 0-4, D McInerney, R Taylor, R Mounsey 0-2 each, S Golden, S Meehan, I Galvin all 0-1 each.
Waterford: D Hutchinson 1-6, P Curran 1-4 (0-2fs), S Bennett 0-5 (3fs, 1 65), C Lyons, K Bennett 0-2 each, A Gleeson, P Hogan, P Mahony all 0-1 each.
Clare: E Quilligan; R Hayes, C Cleary, C Nolan; J Browne, A Fitzgerald, D McInerney; C Malone, S Golden; S O'Donnell, D Reidy, D Fitzgerald; I Galvin, P Duggan, R Taylor.
Subs: S Meehan for Galvin (43), R Mounsey for Reidy (49), A Hogan for Hayes (inj) (55), D Lohan for A Fitzgerald (56), E Foudy for Quilligan (59),
Waterford: S O'Brien; I Kenny, T De Burca, C Gleeson; M Fitzgerald, A Gleeson, J Fagan; P Hogan, C Lyons; N Montgomery, P Mahony, J Prendergast; D Hutchinson, P Curran, J Barron. Subs: S McNulty for De Burca inj (4), Stephen Bennett for Barron inj (11), K Bennett for Fagan (31), M Harney for Mahony (h-t), DJ Foran for Montgomery (57)
Referee: P O'Dwyer (Carlow)
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