Allianz National Hurling League Semi-Final
Tipperary 2-14 Clare 2-17
Although there is no need for anyone to get carried away Eamon O’Shea’s men went about their business smartly at Páirc na nGael in Limerick on Sunday afternoon and registered a significant win over the All-Ireland champions.
Given the fact that Clare had recently hammered Tipperary at Semple Stadium a turning of the tables in this instance was welcome.
Mere weeks ago solving the Clare conundrum proved too complex for Tipperary to solve, but on this occasion the lads draped in blue and gold played like men who had been given the answers to the test in advance.
When Clare opted to employ a sweeper against the wind in the opening half Tipperary mirrored that tactic with Brendan Maher at the opposite end of the field and attacked in an impressively controlled fashion.
Having established a 1-14 to 1-7 interval lead Tipperary then settled down to a man-to-man battle for the second period, recovered from conceding a potential game-breaking goal and never permitted Clare to get within three points.
Tipperary’s early intent was illustrated when John O’Dwyer guided over a missile after just eight seconds. Indeed, Tipp led 0-3 to 0-1 when Clare plundered a goal through Cathal McInerney which they hardly deserved.
Tipperary settled once more with points from Séamus Callanan (free) and Niall O’Meara book-ending a stunning reaction save from Clare ‘keeper Dónal Tuohy following Denis Maher’s clever flick.
Dónal Tuohy then saved Séamus Callanan’s ambitious 21-yard free before long-range points from Denis Maher and John O’Dwyer (free) opened a three-point gap (0-7 to 1-1).
Clare responded with two points before Tipperary’s opening goal materialized in the 19th minute when Patrick Maher belted home a rousing goal (1-7 to 1-3).
Séamus Callanan then added two terrific points from play and Tipperary led by six.
Colm Galvin landed a fine point for the Banner, but points from James Barry and Séamus Callanan (free) forced Tipp into a 1-11 to 1-4 lead by the 28th minute.
A Colin Ryan point cut the deficit before a Séamus Callanan effort at goal ricocheted off Cian Dillon.
Callanan converted the resultant ’65 before another Tipp raid saw Niall O’Meara set Séamus Callanan through on goal, but referee Colm Lyons called back play for an earlier infraction. Séamus Callanan had to content himself with a point in the 32nd minute.
A minute later Noel McGrath helped Tipperary into a nine-point lead - 1-14 to 1-5.
Two late Clare points looked to have pulled the All-Ireland champions within striking distance - at the break Tipperary led 1-14 to 1-7.
A Colin Ryan free settled the Banner before Patrick Donnellan blasted a goal in the 39th minute.
Darren Gleeson in the Tipperary goal saved well from Conor McGrath, but the ball broke to Donnellan and Tipp’s lead was down to three (1-14 to 2-8).
Just four minutes later Tipp struck for a goal of their own - in the 43rd minute James Barry was fouled, Conor O’Mahony moved the placed ball smartly into the hand of Patrick Maher and the Lorrha man charged through before firing home a right-handed shot.
Clare hit back with points from David McInerney and Tony Kelly (2-14 to 2-10), but Tipperary always looked composed and added a point through James Woodlock.
Séamus Callanan (free) then added to the Tipp tally before Colm Galvin responded for Clare. Callanan demanded a superb save from Dónal Tuohy, but points from Colin Ryan (free) and Podge Collins dragged Clare to within three (2-16 to 2-13) with twelve to play.
In the 59th minute Séamus Callanan asked Dónal Tuohy to make yet another fine save, but when Patrick Maher won the rebound Patrick O’Connor pulled the Lorrha man down for a penalty which Séamus Callanan elected to tap over (2-17 to 2-13).
A John Conlon point reduced Tipperary’s lead to three almost immediately before a Niall O’Meara effort preceded a Conor McGrath strike. With five minutes to play Séamus Callanan converted afree to leave four in it.
Patrick Donnellan cut Tipperary’s lead to three (2-19 to 2-16) and with the wind at their backs there was still hope for Clare, but it was Tipperary who pushed on with points from Gearóid Ryan, Séamus Callanan (free), Niall O’Meara and Shane Bourke stretching Tipperary’s advantage to seven.
In second half injury time Colin Ryan and Shane Bourke traded late efforts to bring the scoring to a close.
Tipperary: Darren Gleeson (Portroe), Cathal Barrett (Holycross-Ballycahill), Pádraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields), James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane, 0-1), Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh, captain), Conor O’Mahony (Newport), Kieran Bergin (Killenaule), James Woodlock (Drom & Inch, 0-1), Denis Maher (Thurles Sarsfields, 0-1), Patrick Maher (Lorrha-Dorrha, 2-0), John O’Dwyer (Killenaule, 0-2, 0-1 frees), Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney, 0-1), Séamus Callanan (Drom & Inch, 0-12, 0-6 frees, 0-2 ‘65s, 0-1 penalty), Niall O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s, 0-3). Subs: (47th) Gearóid Ryan (Templederry Kenyons, 0-1) for Denis Maher, (51st) Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch) for Noel McGrath, (62nd) Shane Bourke (JK Bracken’s, 0-2) for John O’Dwyer, (68th) Michael Breen (Ballina) for James Woodlock.
Clare: Dónal Tuohy, Jack Browne, Cian Dillon, David McInerney (0-1), Brendan Bugler, Patrick O’Connor, Conor Ryan, Patrick Donnellan (1-1), Colm Galvin (0-2), John Conlon (0-1), Tony Kelly (0-2, 0-1 free), Colin Ryan (0-5, 0-4 frees), Cathal McInerney (1-1), Conor McGrath (0-2), Podge Collins (0-2). Subs: (HT) Peter Duggan for Cathal McInerney, (62nd) Seán Collins for Colm Galvin, (67th) Aaron Cunningham for John Conlon.
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).