Clare’s Conor Cleary and Michael Kiely of Waterford in action at Cusack Park, Ennis. [Inpho/James Crombie]

Clare beat Deise with late 65

Clare 4-21; Waterford 2-26

This is hurling from a different orbit - something that is almost defying logic week after week in this Munster round-robin series.

Imagine scoring 4-20 and still not having enough to win a  match? That was the prospect facing Clare as ace marksman Mark Rodgers stood over a controversial 65 that would win an already dramatic game in the most dramatic of circumstances.

The crowd of 20,000 at Cusack Park had witnessed an epic of gargantuan proportions when firstly Clare’s goal machine looked like being decisive on the day only for Davy Fitzgerald’s never-say-die Waterford team to fight back to parity on no less than four occasions as they sought the draw or win that would have guaranteed them to continue playing hurling into next month.

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Even though Davy’s Deise found themselves eight points in arrears at one point, they got back on terms with their hosts not once but four times in an absorbing closing quarter - a time when both sides had chances to forge ahead but didn’t.

Then with time up and it looking like a division of the spoils would be the order of the day, an umpire made what Fitzgerald described as a “guess” that it was a Waterford defender and not a Clare attacker which had last touched the ball as it went over the end line.

You can understand his anger, particularly as moments before he had witnessed Shane Bennett rifle home a last-minute penalty to square matters.

Taking a 65 even with so much pressure on his shoulders was something Rodgers did magnificently as immediately afterwards the final whistle sounded.

Speaking on television later, the Waterford manager, a former Clare All Ireland winning player and manager, said: “It’s hard, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that. I think anyone that’s watching that knows the story today. I don’t think they knew. I think it was a guess at the end of it, that’s what it looked like.

"All the boys were saying to me they hadn’t a clue. It’s just hard. We probably deserved a puck out," he stated.

What it means for the diminutive boss is that he must take his team to the Gaelic Grounds next weekend and get something out of the game against reigning Munster and All Ireland champions Limerick.

He will know that his defense must tighten up as conceding goals in similar fashion to the game in Ennis will spell the end of his team’s activity for the rest of the summer.

"Three of the four goals we wouldn’t be happy about. Two of them came from passes that went astray from us, but the big thing we learned today was that the character is unreal. We came to Ennis and put up some display. I’m so proud of the boys. We’re absolutely devastated. We felt we were going to win today. I think we’re very unlucky not to get something out of that."

Clare led by 2-13 to 0-14 at the break with the goals coming from Daire Lohan and the playing David Fitzgerald.

Waterford started the second half better and had reduced the arrears to three points when Rodgers pounced to put his side 3-13 to 0-16 ahead with half an hour to play

The Deise  redoubled their efforts  with a brace of Kevin Mahony points helping to cut the deficit again. Fitzgerald had a chance of another goal but took his point. Immediately Bennett showed great resilience to get in for the Deise’s first major of the day to leave only a point between the sides at 3-14 to 1-19

 Dessie Hutchinson leveled matters from a placed ball -  a theme which was repeated when Shane Barrett did likewise to claw back Clare’s lead from an Aidan McCarthy point.

Talisman Tony Kelly was introduced and had an immediate impact  when scoring his side’s fourth goal with 12 minutes remaining. 

Waterford kept going and with Padraig Fitzgerald spearheading their scoring, it was even-steven again with five to play.

Clare seemed to finally put the issue to bed as injury time beckoned when  a pair of Ian Galvin scores and another from Peter Duggan gave them breathing space - only for Bennett’s 73rd minute penalty to wrestle it back to parity for a fourth time in that quarter.

There was still a twist in the tale at the tail-end of the game with the controversial awarding of a 65, which Rodgers converted to raise high Banner joy and deflate visiting supporters and players and management of the traveling team.

Clare: E Quilligan; A Hogan, C Cleary, R Hayes; D Ryan (0-1), J Conlon, C Galvin; D Lohan (1-0), C Malone (0-1); D Fitzgerald (1-4), D Reidy (0-1), P Duggan (0-1); A McCarthy (0-5, 0-4f), M Rodgers (1-4, 0-1’65), S O’Donnell (0-2) Subs: T Kelly (1-0) for Reidy (48), S Morey for Lohan (56), C Leen for Hayes (59), I Galvin (0-02) for McCarthy (63).

Waterford: Shaun O’Brien; Iarlaith Daly, Kieran Bennett (0-01), Ian Kenny (0-01); Mark Fitzgerald, Tadhg de Burca (0-02, 0-01f), Calum Lyons (0-01); Darragh Lyons, Patrick Curran; Stephen Bennett (1-02), Jack Prendergast (0-02), Jamie Barron (0-01); Kevin Mahony (0-04), Michael Kiely, Dessie Hutchinson (0-06, 0-05f) Subs: Jack Fagan (0-01) for Lyons (16), Shane Bennett (1-02, 1-00 Pen) for Curran (31, inj), Conor Ryan for K. Bennett (57), Patrick Fitzgerald (0-01) for Kiely (59), Padraig Fitzgerald (0-02) for Stephen Bennett (64), Peter Hogan for Barron (66)

Ref: L Gordon (Galway).

Leinster SH Championship

Kilkenny 1-28; Dublin 2-23

Galway 2-25; Antrim 1-14

Wexford 2-36; Carlow 1-13

Munster SH Round Robin Round 4

Clare 4-21; Waterford 2-26

Cork 4-30; Tipperary 1-21