Waterford 0-10 (10) Clare 2-16 (22)

The fight, Clare, 1998

I’m not going to dwell on this one. Just about everything went wrong. Sendings-off, assaults, crushing defeat and the rain was Biblical in its proportions. The ramifications of this game rumbled on for months afterwards, culminating in Offaly winning the All-Ireland. That may seem like a big leap but so obsessed did Ger Loughnane become with the consequences of this match that Clare were ripe for the plucking and Offaly – eventually – did just that.

So much has been written about the slaughter of the first five minutes that anything I say will be superfluous. Ah, what the hell. Waterford had frightened the life out of Clare in the drawn game. We were meant to curl up and die, not go at the Bannermen with all guns blazing. They were not about to be out-fought again. Hints were dropped by Tony Considine during the week about Waterford engaging in roughhouse tactics. We should have seen it coming. Colin Lynch was clearly psyched out of his head, and was swinging before the ball was even thrown in. Tony Browne was struck twice and Ollie Baker once! The match blazed from end-to-end with ferocious intensity.

The details of the ‘incident’ would need a Tribunal to be sorted out. I didn’t see it but I won’t let it get in the way of my speculation. Waterford won a free inside the Clare 21 metre line. Meanwhile Tony Browne was being clobbered off the ball by Colin Lynch. Brian Lohan attacked Míceal White as he went to retrieve the ball (was it to cover up what Lynch had done? It may sound too much like the X-Files, but why was White, never the most stable of players targeted by Lohan?). White retaliated as is his wont and all hell broke loose. When the dust settled, White and Lohan were ordered off and Lynch and Browne were booked.

The whole affair seemed to affect Waterford more. They failed to capatilise on the wind being at their backs and were actually 0-7 to 0-6 behind at the break. Early in the second half a long range Seanie McMahon free was flicked to the net by Niall Gilligan and the roof fell in on the Déise. A sweet strike by Conor Clancy emphasised the difference between the teams. Two late points put us into double figures at least and avoided a crushing of early 1980’s levels. It was going to be difficult to pick ourselves up after this mugging.

Post Scriptum: Huddled around the radio on the way home, PJ Ryan informed us disconsolately that we had drawn Galway in the All-Ireland quarter-final. Could things get any worse?

Post Post Scriptum: Many thanks to ‘Bord na Mona Man’ who emailed to tell me that earlier incarnations of this page had Waterford scoring 12 points. Wishful thinking on my part I guess. Not bad for a Biffo. (Although you missed the other scoring error I made. Tut tut.)

Waterford: Brendan Landers, Mark O’Sullivan, Tom Feeney, Brian Flannery, Stephen Frampton (capt.), Fergal Hartley, Brian Greene, Tony Browne, Peter Queally (0-1; Sean Daly, 0-1), Dan Shanahan, Ken McGrath (0-1), Dave Bennett (0-2; Billy O’Sullivan), Míceal White, Anthony Kirwan (0-1), Paul Flynn (0-4, 0-3 frees)

Clare: David Fitgerald, Frank Lohan, Brian Lohan, Brian Quinn, Liam Doyle, Sean McMahon (0-4, 0-3 65’s), Anthony Daly (capt.), Colin Lynch (0-1), Ollie Baker (0-1), Alan Markham (0-1), Fergus Tuohy (Fergal Hegarty, 0-1), Jamsie O’Connor (0-4, all frees), Niall Gilligan (1-1), Conor Clancy (1-0; Ger O’Loughlin, 0-1), David Forde (0-2)

HT: Waterford 0-6 Clare 0-7

Referee: Willie Barrett (Tipperary)