Clare will face Tipperary in the Co-Op Superstores Munster SHL final, having beaten Waterford in Fraher Field, Dungarvan in front of 3,039 spectators.
The home side defended the scoreboard end in the first half and faced the breeze, but Clare dominated immediately, hitting five points in the first five minutes, Shane Golden’s long range effort the best of them.
Stephen Bennett opened Waterford’s account (free) but the home side needed keeper Billy Nolan to save from Aaron Shanagher to stay in touch. Golden, Diarmuid Ryan and Aidan McCarthy pushed Clare 0-9 to 0-2 ahead on 15 minutes.
Niall Deasy and Ryan tacked on more points from distance before Nolan saved well again, this time from Michael O’Neill; Clare keeper Donal Tuohy saved smartly from Stephen Bennett when the ball went downfield.
Ryan added his fifth from play before Bennett had his fourth free, but then a Shanagher effort dropped short and Clare captain Tony Kelly beat Nolan to the ball before goaling – 1-12 to 0-4 on 26 minutes.
Tuohy denied Tommy Ryan a goal late on but then Stephen Bennett won an Austin Gleeson delivery and slalomed through for a goal on 32 minutes, though there was time for one more Clare point, a Deasy free: 1-14 to 1-5 at the half.
Bennett resumed with another free but Golden responded in kind, and Waterford hit three wides in a row after that. Deasy knocked over the frees for Clare but Waterford, through Bennett, cut the lead to 1-17 to 1-11 at the three-quarter mark.
Kevin Moran, on as a sub, made it a five point game, but Kelly steadied the ship for Clare. Bennett (free) and sub Mikey Kearney cut the lead to four, only for another sub – Podge Collins of Clare – to find Colin Guilfoyle with a clever pass. Guilfoyle’s goal strike made it 2-18 to 1-15 with less than ten minutes left. Clare saw it home from there, though Waterford kept knocking on the door for another goal and were eventually rewarded with a Tommy Ryan strike and a Bennett goal from a free that came too late to affect the outcome.
Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett (2-12, 1-10 frees); T. Ryan(1-1); DJ Foran, K. Moran, M. Kearney (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clare: D. Ryan (0-6); N. Deasy (3 frees, 0-5), T. Kelly (1-2); C. Guilfoyle (1-1); S. Golden (0-3); A. McCarthy, R. Taylor, D. Conroy (0-1 each).
WATERFORD: B. Nolan, D. Lyons, C. Prunty, N. Connors (c), M. Harney, A. Gleeson, K. Bennett, J. Barron, S. Roche, C. Dunford, Shane Bennett, DJ Foran, T. Ryan, Stephen Bennett, J. Prendergast.
Subs: C. Lyons and K. Moran for Gleeson and Harney (HT); M. Kearney for Shane Bennett (45); M. Walsh for Prendergast (52); J. Henley for Lyons (inj, 70).
CLARE: D. Tuohy, J. McCarthy, D. McInerney, R. Hayes, A. McCarthy, C.Cleary, C. Malone, S. Golden, T. Kelly (c), D. Ryan, N. Deasy, R.Taylor, C. Guilfoyle, A. Shanagher, M. O’Neill.
Subs: J. Browne for Hayes (14); G. Cooney for Shanagher (52); P. Collins for O’Neill (56); D. Conroy for Guilfoyle (59); M. O’Malley for Taylor (60).
Referee: K. Jordan (Tipperary).