Tipperary saw off neighbors Clare in a real war of attrition to set up an All-Ireland Final date with Galway or Kilkenny.
The game remained in the melting pot until the bitter end. With two points separating the sides, Clare’s Chloe Morey stood over a 30m free. The crowd hushed, and an eerie silence more suitable to Thomond Park than Kilmallock ensued.
Tipp’s Louise McLoughlin stood her ground and guarded the net with a look of sheer determination etched upon her face.
Morey’s goal bound shot was saved and cleared up field-Tipp’s dream had now become a reality.
The Premier County started superbly, racking up 2-2 inside the opening minutes.
The in-form Ciara McGrath sent the ball crashing to the net after the Clare defence coughed up possession rather cheaply.
Clare responded well with U16 starlet Niki Kaiser pointing from close range. Michaela Graham rattled the Clare net again after finishing a fine Nicole Walsh move. Andrea Loughnane picked off two excellent points, following great link up play by Caoimhe Maher in midfield.
However, Clare remained in the hunt with Chloe Morey pointing four close range frees and a massive 65 yarder against the wind. The Clare halfback line reduced Tipp’s supply by countering Orla McEniry’s puck out.
This largely worked a treat, and when coupled with a high-free count, saw Clare cut the lead again. Three unanswered points from Walsh, Maher and Brid Quinn gave Tipp a slender four-point advantage at the break.
Eerena Fryday and Sinead Touhy traded scores minutes inside the restart.
A Caoimhe Maher free caused mayhem in the Clare defence with Graham grabbing a brace.
However, Clare refused to wilt, and when Susan Fahy’s hand-passed effort somehow evaded the net, it was Tipperary who were weathering the storm. Niamh O’Dea had another effort cleared, but the break fell to Kaiser, and her groundstroke flashed beyond the reach of McEniry.
Points from Morey and the impressive Rachel O’Halloran had Clare within touching distance. Walsh and Tara Kennedy combined to keep Tipp at the helm.
Despite the valiant efforts of Morey, Touhy and Kaiser, Clare couldn’t find a way past a well drilled and marshaled Tipp defence.
Tipperary had a number of key performers on the day. Julie Ann Bourke, Sheila Ryan and Louise McLoughlin all impressed, as did Sarah Fryday and Ciara McGrath.
However, Caoimhe Maher was the stand out player. Her ability to read the game, as well as her unnerving presence and maturity helped steady the Tipp ship when needed most.
Tipperary await the winners of Galway/Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Final (Sunday, 31st July). Galway play Kilkenny tonight at 7:30pm in McDonagh Park, Nenagh.
Tipperary: O. McEniry, J-A, Bourke, S. Ryan, L. McLoughlin, C. Quirke, A. Cremin, M. Barry, B. Quinn (Cpt) (0-1), C. Maher (0-1, free), A. Loughnane (0-2), E. Fryday (0-1), N. Walsh (0-2, frees), S. Fryday, M. Graham (2-0), C. McGrath (1-1). Subs used: T. Kennedy (0-1), M. Teehan, A. Carroll, A. Ryan.
Tipperary put in their best display to date against Cork at CIT in Cork last Saturday when forced to line out without Claire Grogan due to injury. Tipperary also started four of the minor team that won the All-Ireland semi-final on Friday night.
Behind by nine points to four at half time Tipp played much better in the second half and Cora Hennessy got the goal that sparked Tipp in to action and with just two points in it Jill Horan made a run from mid-field and unleashed a powerful shot only to see it rebound of the post.
Tipperary had outstanding players in Jill Horan, Sabrina Larkin, Michelle Shortt and Julie Kirwin. With Tipperary Minors in the All-Ireland final and the under-16s winning Munster for the second year and hoping to put back to back All-Irelands the future looks bright for Tipperary Camogie.
Tipperary 1-7: C Hennessy 1-0, J Horan 0-4, J Ryan, S Fryday, M Shortt 0-1 each.
Team: R Bourke, M Tynan, S Larkin, S Ryan, J McGrath, J Kirwin, C Quirke, M Shortt, M Ryan, J Ryan, J Horan, C Hennessy, D Dunne, M Graham, S Friday. Subs used: N Flanagan, C Grogan, A Kennedy, N Walsh.