The Tipperary minor football team pictured during the national anthem before their recent Munster championship meeting with Kerry at Semple Stadium, Thurles. Photo: Eamonn McGee
The Banner surged into the Munster minor football final at the expense of Tipperary at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Tuesday night thanks to hard-fought two-point semi-final win over the Premier County - Clare will face Kerry in the decider following the Kingdom’s win over Cork.
Munster Minor Football
Tipperary 2-4 Clare 1-9
The Clare team bus arrived late and in a fitting analogy the Banner were slow to make their mark on this contest, but once they got going Tipperary struggled to compete and coughed up twenty-four frees despite playing with the aid of a sweeper.
Tipperary certainly tried their hearts out in this semi-final, but they lacked the guile to make a significant impression on the visitors’ defence.
Sadly, this defeat brings Tipperary’s 2018 minor campaign to a conclusion.
In their opening game in this year's Munster championship the Tipperary minor football team lost to Kerry (0-4 to 1-15) at Semple Stadium, but Matt O'Doherty's resurgent men regrouped from that defeat during the play-offs and beat Limerick after extra-time (2-12 to 1-11) in Newcastle West on April 18th before seeing off Waterford (2-11 to 2-6) at Leamybrien on April 25th to book their place in the semi-finals.
The Tipperary minor football management team were: manager Matt O’Doherty (Arravale Rovers), coach Benny Hickey (Cahir), selectors Viv Downey (Upperchurch-Drombane), James Boland (Inane Rovers) and Johnny Nevin (JK Bracken's). The strength and conditioning coaches involved were: Jason Coffey (Ardfinnan) and Mark Butler (Loughmore-Castleiney).
Kyle Shelly opened the scoring for Tipperary with a terrific point in the third minute before Kevin Hayes conjured a brilliant pass in over the Clare defence in the ninth minute to pick out the blindside run of his Moycarkey-Borris club colleague Max Hackett who buried a spectacular left foot shot (1-1 to no-score).
Clare got off the mark with a Thomas Kelly point in the 11th minute, but four minutes later Seán O’Connor punched over an effort for Tipperary to leave four between the sides once more.
Emmet McMahon thumped over a lovely right-footed point in the 20th minute for a Clare side who had fired six wides inside the opening twenty-two minutes (Tipperary four); that said at the opposite end of the field the Banner full-back Darragh Connelly had also performed two brilliant tackles to deny raiding blue and gold forwards certain goal-scoring opportunities.
Tipperary, who looked quite dangerous inside the opposition’s 45-yard line, created a gilt-edged goal chance in the 26th minute when Mark O’Meara and Kyle Shelly combined to put Seán O’Connor through on goal, but, unfortunately, the Clonmel Commercials full-forward steered his shot wide. We dearly hoped that the Premier County would not live to regret such profligacy.
Eleven scoreless minutes came to a close in first half injury time when Shane Meehan converted a close range free for Clare - in the first half Tipperary conceded fourteen frees in all (Clare three).
In the 33rd minute Shane Meehan landed another free and there was just the minimum between them at the break (1-2 to 0-4). Tipperary, however, closed out the half when creating another encouraging goal-scoring opportunity - this time Clare ‘keeper Michael Garrihy saved smartly from Kyle Shelly.
A Christy English free in the 33rd minute capped a lively opening to the second half for Tipperary but disaster struck for the home side when Kevin Keane was allowed to punch home a Chippy Okoye delivery in the 34th minute and Clare led 1-4 to 1-3. Referee David Murnane consulted with his umpires before allowing the three-pointer to stand as, initially, it appeared a square ball.
Despite playing with the aid of a sweeper Tipperary conceded their 18th free in the 41st minute and Shane Meehan booted Clare into a two-point lead (1-5 to 1-3).
Tipperary needed a little inspiration and found it in the 42nd minute when Kyle Shelly found Christy English who rifled home a low shot (2-3 to 1-5).
An Emmet McMahon free in the 45th minute tied the game once more, but a foul on Rhys Byron in the 50th minute presented Christy English with the opportunity to fire the home side back into the lead (2-4 to 1-6).
Clare were still in touch, however, despite firing twelve wides (Tipperary eight) by this stage of the contest. And, in the 55th minute Emmet McMahon landed a ’45 to tie the game once more (2-4 to 1-7).
Clare capped a superb counter-attack in the 56th minute when a sensational right foot point from Shane Meehan propelled the visitors into a narrow lead (2-4 to 1-8). And, if Clare were to progress to the provincial final Meehan’s strike was worthy of the prize on offer.
The Banner midfield had dominated the kick-outs throughout this contest and following a mark in the 57th minute midfielder Emmet McMahon picked out Mark McInerney on the inside line and the corner-forward recycled to Shane Meehan who landed another cracker, his fifth (2-4 to 1-9).
In the end Clare were awarded twenty-four frees (Tipperary ten) while the Banner fired fifteen wides (Tipperary eight).
Tipperary: Callan Scully (Nenagh Éire Óg), Tommy McDonagh (Cahir), Shane Lowe (Moyne-Templetuohy), Christy McDonagh (Cahir), Mark O'Meara (Grangemockler-Ballyneale, captain), Gavin Meagher (Inane Rovers), Johnny Ryan (Arravale Rovers), Keith Ryan (Upperchurch-Drombane), Kevin Hayes (Moycarkey-Borris), Max Hackett (Moycarkey-Borris, 1-0), Devon Ryan (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams), Eddie Daly (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams), Seán O'Connor (Clonmel Commercials, 0-1), Christy English (Ballyporeen, 1-2, 0-2 frees), Kyle Shelly (Moycarkey-Borris, 0-1). Subs: (HT) Rhys Byron (Galtee Rovers) for Keith Ryan, (39th) Billy Murphy (Kilsheelan-Kilcash) for Gavin Meagher, (44th) Jamie Holloway (Carrick Swan) for Devon Ryan, (51st) Paddy Creedon (Durlas Óg) for Seán O’Connor, (57th) John O'Sullivan (Galtee Rovers) for Rhys Byron.
Clare: Michael Garrihy, Jack Reidy, Darragh Connelly, John Murphy, Conor Carrig, Cillian Rouine, Adam O’Connor, Chibby Okoye, Emmet McMahon (0-3, 0-1 frees, 0-1 ’45), Thomas Kelly (0-1), Cian McDonagh, Pádraic O’Donoghue, Kevin Keane (1-0), Shane Meehan (0-5, 0-3 frees), Mark McInerney. Subs: (41st) Gavin Daurio for Pádraic O’Donoghue, (56th) Shane Lillis for Kevin Keane.
Referee: David Murnane (Cork).
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