Tipp survive late Clare fightback
From the GAA.ie web site
Tipperary survived a superb Clare fightback to win in the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday and seal their place in the Munster final. Although they led for the entire game, at stages by large margins, Clare produced a remarkable run of point scoring to get within two points at the end, only to be denied by a superb save by Brendan Cummins from a Colin Ryan free.
Munster SHC Semi-Final:
Clare 1-22 Tipperary 3-18
Tipperary were 1-6 to 0-1 up after 10 minutes with Lar Corbett striking the early goal and Seamus Callanan’s major later in the half put them 11 in front. However, Diarmuid McMahon hit a superb goal before the break to revive Clare. A third Tipp goal in the second half through John O’Brien looked like it would finally kill off the Banner, but inspired by the scoring brilliance of debutant Ryan, they kept reducing the lead.
In the final play of the match, Ryan, who scored 0-12 in all, smashed a free from distance straight towards the top corner of the net but Cummins had made a series of top saves throughout and he delivered again at the key moment to give Tipp the spoils. Central to Tipperary’s win was prodigy McGrath, who hit six points in a cultured display.
Although Clare had two revivals within the first half, it ultimately belonged to Tipperary, who nullified the Banner Men for long periods. Tipp got off to a blistering start and were 1-6 to 0-1 up within ten minutes. McGrath and Lar Corbett were key in the opening salvo with Corbett striking the decisive goal when he slotted past Philip Brennan.
However, Clare managed to temper this early onslaught with Ryan hitting three points to add to a classy one from Tony Griffin. Then though, Tipperary upped it a gear again with McGrath striking over a wondrous sideline cut. It was a sensational score, and was quickly followed by a decisive goal from Callanan.
The classy forward broke free near the goals and cracked a low drive straight to the net. It put Tipp 11 points clear and they were pulling away, even though they hadn’t really clicked into top gear. Just shy of half-time though, Clare pulled themselves back into the game and it was all down to McMahon, who hit a fabulous goal and point in the space of a minute. The goal was sublime, a stunning catch in the air from a Pat Donnellan pass and then a precise finish into the corner of the net. He followed it up with a point as well to give Clare a lifeline as they went in at half-time.
Clare started the second half quite well and got within four points with the excellent Ryan striking over a free. However, Tipperary then embarked on a run which ultimately proved the winning of the match. The brilliant McGrath, Woodlock and Corbett all pointed before O’Brien lashed in Tipp’s third goal of the day. Corner-back Paddy Stapleton, making only his second Championship appearance, did brilliantly to set up Corbett who crossed across the square for O’Brien. He took the ball easily in his stride before flicking home. It was hard to see a way back for Clare from there.
Eoin Kelly pointed a free seconds later but Clare continued to fight and a quick flurry of points, two coming from Ryan and another from the outstanding McMahon, reduced the gap to two goals again. Clare’s battling was admirable, because at stages Tipperary had threatened to power well clear. Ryan continued to chip away at the Premier’s lead and with little over five minutes remaining, there was only three points in it after Ryan’s ninth point of the day flew over straight after a battling score from substitute John Conlon.
Clare’s tide was rising and Tipperary were beginning to flounder, surrendering possession easily and missing chances when they came. Colin Ryan hit another blockbuster over to leave two in it and the Tipperary tension was materialising all over the pitch. Mike McNamara’s side were also beginning to pump ball into their full-forward line from distance and goal chances were being created. With a goal in it at the end, Ryan fired the sliotar at goal in the hope of salvaging a draw but Cummins’ heroics, as ever, left Tipp in the clear.
Cummins repels late Banner charge
Tipperary 3-18 Clare 1-22
By Jim O’Sullivan of the Irish Examiner newspaper
Monday, June 22, 2009
PUSHING the favourites to the absolute limit after having faced the prospect of a heavy defeat was of even less consolation to gallant Clare in the Gaelic Grounds yesterday when they were drawn against Galway in the qualifiers.
However, that was the price they paid for being that bit more inconsistent in the second of the Munster SHC semi-finals, while Tipperary’s goal-scoring capacity was secondary to the durability of their defence in a hectic finale to a stirring contest.
The champions made the perfect start, going eight points ahead after just nine minutes, stretching that lead to 11 in the 28th and despite a late first-half goal by Clare’s Diarmuid McMahon, Tipp still led by nine points 11 minutes into the second half. But after that it was a case of just about surviving a spirited Clare rally which drew inspiration from Newmarket-on-Fergus newcomer Colin Ryan, who scored 12 points.
“Mission accomplished” was how manager Liam Sheedy described it, a first final with Waterford in seven years in Thurles on July 12.
Pre-match doubts about Clare’s ability to put up a serious challenge, coming off a poor NHL campaign and starting with just Niall Gilligan of their 1997 All-Ireland winning team, seemed well-founded when they struggled to find a rhythm at the start.
Tipp won possession almost at will, combined smartly in attack – where the highly rated Noel McGrath was one of the stars – and took good scores more easily than they might have expected. When Lar Corbett hit the first of their three goals in the eighth minute, they moved into a position of authority.
They were on top at midfield, where Shane McGrath made the better start and just as they threatened regularly up front, their backs were coping comfortably with a weak Clare attack, with Paddy Stapleton making an impact in the right corner.
However, nearing the end of the first quarter Clare were much more competitive, with Brendan Bugler making good clearances at centre-back, newcomer James McInerney playing a bit more confidently behind him and Jonathan Clancy starting to win ball against James Woodlock.
Colin Ryan, who was deployed in front of his own half-back line, put over two frees and then added a point from play and for the first time Clare were hurling as a unit. But in a period of eight minutes their position deteriorated, going from four points in arrears to trailing by 11 when Seamus Callanan ran through unchallenged to get Tipp’s second goal.
It might have got worse when Eoin Kelly seemed to be knocked by Brian O’Connell in the square in the 32nd minute and the referee didn’t award a penalty.
Then, out of the blue Diarmuid McMahon had the ball in the net for Clare nearing the end of normal time, running on to a great pass from wing-back Pat Donnellan and finishing perfectly. Now at full-forward and posing a threat for the first time, he followed with a quick point to leave the half-time score 2-11 to 1-8.
Clare resumed in equally high spirits and were unfortunate that after an improving Tony Griffin pointed, a foul on Gilligan prevented him from passing to McMahon who was unmarked and in a position to run at Brendan Cummins.
The resultant free from Ryan had the margin down to four points, but, to Tipperary’s great credit, they lifted their standard again and when the crafty John O’Brien goaled in the 46th minute, a nine-point deficit threatened to swamp the Banner again.
Once more Clare’s character shone through, with McMahon promising a goal in the 52nd minute when he tried to turn Paul Curran but was forced to take a point. Significantly, after a pointed free from Eoin Kelly, who didn’t see a lot of ball, Tipperary were to be limited to just two points in the last 19 minutes. They were repulsed by a rampant Clare defence in which corner-backs Pat Vaughan and Gerry O’Grady shone while up front Ryan’s accuracy (from play and placed balls, including a terrific sideline cut) allowed them to maximise their scoring return.
As the excitement mounted – and John O’Brien got a much-needed Tipp score – Clare were denied a goal by Brendan Cummins’ alertness in the 62nd minute and were further frustrated when an attempt by Ryan to finish the ball to the net was foiled.
In the closing minutes, Noel McGrath came to Tipp’s aid with a crucial point before the game’s final act of drama saw Cummins push a dipping shot from a Ryan free over the bar to deny Clare a draw they would have deserved.
Scorers for Tipperary: N. McGrath 0-7 (1 free, 1 sideline); J. O’Brien 1-2; L. Corbett 1-1; S. Callanan 1-0; P. Kerwick and E. Kelly (0-3 frees) 0-3 each; D. Fanning and J. Woodlock 0-1 each.
Clare: C. Ryan 0-12 (0-4 frees, 0-2 ‘65’s, 0-1 sideline); S. McMahon 1-2; J. Clancy 0-3; T. Griffin 0-2; T. Carmody, D. Barrett and J. Conlon 0-1 each.
Tipperary subs: B. Maher for O’Mahony (ht); W. Ryan for Kerwick (54); B. Dunne for McGrath (62); H. Maloney for Callanan (63); P. Kelly for E. Kelly (67).
Clare subs: B. Nugent for Carmody (60); J. Conlon for Barrett (62); G. O’Connell for Clancy (65).
* James Owen added to his growing reputation with an impressive refereeing performance.
Tipperary 3-18 Clare 1-22
From the RTE.ie web site
Tipperary’s goal-scoring touch helped them plot a course for the Munster SHC final, staving off a second half comeback from Clare at the Gaelic Grounds.
Having fallen 1-06 to 0-01 behind early on, Clare staged a gutsy comeback with Championship debutant Colin Ryan providing the scoring thrust, hitting 0-12 in all.
In front of a 20,872-strong crowd, Tipperary blasted out of the blocks and Lar Corbett and Seamus Callanan exploited some slack marking to pick off goals.
The reigning Munster champions led by 2-11 to 1-08 at half-time, with Diarmuid McMahon hitting a late haul of 1-01 and providing a timely boost to Clare.
The Banner defence fell asleep again as John O’Brien collected a diagonal ball from Corbett and fired home Tipp’s third goal, moving them nine points ahead.
But Clare dug deep and with Ryan, team captain Brian O’Connell and Tony Carmody coming to prominence, Tipp were made to sweat it out at the finish.
Indeed, newcomer Ryan had a last-gasp pop at goal, top-spinning a close range free towards the Tipp net in injury-time, but experienced goalkeeper Brendan Cummins was well-placed to deflect the effort over the crossbar.
Clare started with two SHC debutants in Ryan and full-forward David Barrett, while Tipperary, quarter-final winners over Cork, boasted a settled side.
The only change being Pat Kerwick’s inclusion at the expense of Micheál Webster.
The size of Clare’s task was evident in the opening stages as Tipp’s forwards showed a clinical edge, taking their scoring chances at will.
John O’Brien, Shane McGrath and Eoin Kelly (free) all registered points before Jonathan Clancy linked with Niall Gilligan to fire over Clare’s opening score.
Teenager Noel McGrath, the eventual man-of-the-match, scooped over a fine point off his left for a 0-04 to 0-01 Tipp lead and Declan Fanning added to that, starting and finishing a flowing move with a point from midfield.
The first goal arrived on seven minutes, Corbett fastening onto a long through ball and stretching to flick a brilliant left-handed effort beyond Philip Brennan, with the Clare goalkeeper caught slightly for pace.
Importantly, Clare had the better of the middle part of the first-half, eating into that Tipp advantage.
Corbett followed up on with goal with a point but with O’Connell winning more ball at midfield, Clare rattled off the next four points through Ryan (0-03) and Tony Griffin.
Tipp fell off the boil and were guilty of overcomplicating things in attack as Clare gradually found their feet.
However, Liam Sheedy’s Tipp side rallied and they managed to find an extra gear to put Clare under a serious amount of pressure at 2-10 to 0-05.
Noel McGrath and Pat Kerwick showed some great touches and pace as Tipp cantered into a more comfortable lead, with the former also landing a superb sideline cut.
Former All-Star Eoin Kelly was having a relatively quite time of it but he played an important part in Tipp’s second goal, flicking the ball clear for Seamus Callanan to burst onto it and end a weaving run with a powerful shot past Brennan.
Tipp’s killer instinct was evident in that attack but they dropped their guard somewhat, leading up to half-time, as McMahon inspired Clare back to life with 1-01.
Carmody and Clancy scored a point apiece before Noel McGrath, teed up by Corbett, answered back. At that stage, there were ten points between the sides and Tipp’s confidence was still high.
They suffered a setback, however, on the stroke of half-time. McMahon claimed a perfectly weighted ball through from Pat Donnellan, he turned on his heel and rasped a powerful shot beyond Cummins’ reach and into the far right corner of the net.
The goal-scorer increased his influence by popping over an injury-time point, and Clare came out strongly for the second half, collecting points through Griffin and Ryan (free) for a 2-11 to 1-10 score-line.
Once again, this semi-final clash then ebbed back in Tipp’s favour. Callanan showed his pace as he did the approach work for another Noel McGrath score.
Barrett replied for Clare but Tipp’s attack came to the fore once again as both James Woodlock and John O’Brien, a big ball winner for his side throughout the game, landed points.
The nail in the coffin could well have been coming when O’Brien escaped the clutches of James McInerney, collected a Corbett delivery and smashed the ball past Brennan.
But there was a sense that Tipp were not in the clear yet and Clare, showing very good stamina and battling qualities, dug deep to claw their way back.
After Clancy and Kelly swapped points, the tide began to turn as Ryan and McMahon combined to hit three points in quick succession.
Tipp still had a handsome enough lead but there was no evidence of a ruthless streak – they could only manage three points over the closing 12 minutes, with two of them frees.
Clare clearly had the bit between their teeth and youngster Ryan was beginning to wield some influence in open play, landing scores from the left and right.
The talented wing-forward also hit the target with an excellent sideline cut, before the onrushing Niall Gilligan forced a great save from Cummins at point-blank range.
Mike McNamara’s men kept pressing and points from Ryan, from two ’65’s and a free, and a score from play from substitute John Conlon had Tipp’s lead whittled down to just 3-17 to 1-21.
While Clare were beginning to show their accuracy in front of goal, Tipperary had moved their wides tally to 13 and Noel McGrath’s sixth point of the afternoon was certainly a timely one, two minutes into injury-time.
The buffer was back to three points and it stopped the rot setting in as Cummins ensured Tipp held on to set up a final meeting with Waterford in Thurles on 12 July.
Scorers – Clare: C Ryan 0-12 (0-06f, 0-01 sl, 0-02 ’65’), D McMahon 1-02, T Griffin, J Clancy, T Carmody 0-02 each, J Conlon, D Barrett 0-01 each. Tipperary: N McGrath 0-07 (0-01 sl, 0-01f), J O’Brien 1-02, L Corbett 1-01, S Callanan 1-00, P Kerwick 0-03, E Kelly (0-03f) 0-03 each, D Fanning, J Woodlock 0-01 each
Clare: P Brennan; P Vaughan, J McInerney, G O’Grady; P Donnellan, B Bugler, A Markham; B O’Connell (capt), T Griffin; T Carmody, D McMahon, C Ryan; N Gilligan, D Barrett, J Clancy.
Subs used: B Nugent for Carmody (60 mins), J Conlon for Barrett (62), G O’Connell for Clancy (66).
Tipperary: B Cummins; P Stapleton, P Curran, C O’Brien; D Fanning, C O’Mahony (capt), P Maher; J Woodlock, S McGrath; P Kerwick, S Callanan, L Corbett; E Kelly, J O’Brien, N McGrath.
Subs used: B Maher for O’Mahony (h/t), W Ryan for Kerwick (54 mins), B Dunne for S McGrath (63), H Maloney for Callanan (64), P Kelly for E Kelly (67).
Referee: James Owens (Wexford).
McGrath magic has Tipp flying
Tipperary 3-18 Clare 1-22
By colm keys for the Irish Independent newspaper
Monday June 22 2009
Only 10 minutes of this clash had elapsed when Colin Ryan stood over a 20-metre free in a central position and the thought struck that a goal was far more tempting and necessary than the obligatory point on offer.
Clare were already fanning the flames of a very dangerous looking inferno across the Gaelic Grounds at that stage, eight points (1-6 to 0-1) in arrears to a Tipperary side intent on distancing themselves from the malaise of their second-half performance against Cork three weeks earlier.
Ryan took wise counsel on board however, opting for the safe option of a point, one of 12 he would accumulate in a performance that belied his status as one of three debutants.
But still the signs were wholly ominous for Clare as Tipp’s forwards oozed class, young Noel McGrath again putting down a footnote that he will at least be in Joe Canning’s slipstream for the next decade.
How Mike McNamara might have wished there and then that he was back in Ogonnolloe, pressing his foot into the sod beneath the snow-capped peaks, hailing its aridity as Clare lifted the Waterford Crystal trophy having put Tipp to an early season sword.
The landscape for Clare had looked promising on that biting cold January day, but after a miserable league campaign, the opening 10 minutes in Limerick held ominous portents for them.
When Tipperary pressed on after Seamus Callanan’s wonderful 28th-minute goal to lead by 11 points, more than a few of the Clare loyalists in the 20,872 crowd must have cast a thought back to 1993 when they were last on the receiving end of a bad beating from their great rivals.
Against that background, Clare’s second-half performance can be put into perspective. That disastrous league campaign appeared to have turned a lot of support off the team over the spring months, eroding the credit built up last summer.
But Mike Mac has always appealed for patience with his rebuilding project and faith was surely restored with the courage, resilience and, in the cases of Ryan and fellow debutant James McInerney, class they showed. If they vanished off the radar over the last few months they most certainly resurfaced yesterday.
The Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy wasn’t patronising afterwards when he suggested he wouldn’t have had a complaint if it had finished level.
Sheedy will have his own concerns, of course, at the lack of security his team provides for healthy leads they build up.
That 11-point lead was compressed into four some five minutes into the second half but they were nine points clear within six minutes, courtesy of another stunning goal, this time Lar Corbett providing the precision pass for John O’Brien after Paddy Stapleton’s impressive break from defence.
Tipp should have been able to batten down the hatches then but they continued to look vulnerable and missed the stability of Conor O’Mahony’s presence at centre-back after he withdrew at the interval with an injury.
Once again their main pressure point was their half-forward line, which was essentially cleaned out by Brendan Bugler, Brian O’Connell and Alan Markham in the second half.
True, Pat Kerwick started brightly and pitched in three points with exhilarating pace and Corbett and John O’Brien both did damage as they interchanged on the other wing, but the overall effect was still one of Clare dominance when the battle was at its fiercest.
Corbett and O’Brien provided clinical touches throughout, O’Brien’s delivery for Corbett’s sublime touch for goal on eight minutes being a case in point.
But Tipperary’s most dangerous forward was McGrath, still not 19 until December. Every time he had possession his team was guaranteed serious productivity.
He had a hand in four of Tipp’s first six points and finished himself with seven in all, five from play and that crucial late free when Eoin Kelly had been withdrawn.
Kelly had probably his quietest day in a Tipperary shirt, but that didn’t seem to matter much as his colleagues around him prised open the gaps on the back of so much Shane McGrath industry.
A neat Noel McGrath touch made the opening for Callanan’s goal but the Drom and Inch man gave himself momentum with his pick-up and then space with his shift on to his left side.
But the tide started to turn when Diarmuid McMahon, switched to full-forward where he made an immediate impact, latched on to a Pat Donnellan clearance and beat Brendan Cummins on his far side. When he followed up with a point that may have been a goal with a bit more ambition, the game had exploded into some life as Tipperary held just a six-point lead at the interval, 2-11 to 1-8, after so much dominance.
Coupled with Pat Donnellan’s move to midfield to shadow Shane McGrath, McMahon’s posting to full-forward gave Clare a better balance.
The champions looked to have taken Clare’s best early second-half shots when O’Brien’s goal gave them distance again, restoring a nine-point lead after being pegged back to four on two occasions.
But still Clare kept coming relentlessly with Ryan’s accuracy the most essential part of their armoury. He chipped in the full set of scores, two 65s, a sideline, three from play and six frees to make his debut a memorable one.
His second-last free brought Clare to within three points on 65 minutes and rattled Tipperary to the extent that they reeled off three consecutive wides.
A Ryan ’65 edged Clare even closer and it required the cool hand of Noel McGrath to steer Tipp to relative safety with that late free from near the sideline.
It still didn’t finish there though. The last act saw Brendan Cummins reach to parry a dipping 35-metre free over.
So Tipperary survive and remain on course for a first defence of a Munster title in 20 years in Thurles of all places. But the last seven weeks could yet extract a heavy toll.
Scorers — Tipperary: N McGrath 0-7 (0-1f, 0-1 sl), J O’Brien 1-2, L Corbett 1-1, P Kerwick, E Kelly (0-3f) 0-3 each, S Callanan 1-0, J Woodlock, D Fanning 0-1 each. Clare: C Ryan 0-12 (0-6f, 0-2 ’65, 0-1 sl), D McMahon 1-2, J Clancy 0-3, T Griffin 0-2, T Carmody, D Barrett, J Conlon 0-1 each.
Tipperary — B Cummins 8; P Stapleton 8, P Curran 7, C O’Brien 7; D Fanning 7, C O’Mahony 6, P Maher 6; J Woodlock 6, S McGrath 7; P Kerwick 7, S Callanan 6, J O’Brien 8; E Kelly 5, L Corbett 8, N McGrath 9. Subs: B Maher 6 for O’Mahony (ht), W Ryan 5 for Kerwick (53), B Dunne for McGrath (62), H Maloney for Callanan (63), P Kelly for Kelly (66).
Clare — P Brennan 6; P Vaughan 7, J McInerney 7, G O’Grady 7; P Donnellan 7, B Bugler 8, A Markham 7; B O’Connell 7, J Clancy 7; T Carmody 6, D McMahon 8, T Griffin 6; N Gilligan 5, D Barrett 5, C Ryan 9. Subs: B Nugent 5 for Carmody (60), J Conlon 7 for Barrett (61), G O’Connell for Clancy (65).
Ref — James Owens (Wexford)
Tipperary falter but Clare can’t quite catch up
IAN O’RIORDAN At the Gaelic Grounds for the Irish Times newspaper
MUNSTER SHC SEMI-FINAL Tipperary 3-18 Clare 1-22: FOR THE longest day of the year this was in danger of being over fairly quick. At least until Tipperary began to flicker and to fade, and without much warning, Clare brought themselves to the brink of the one championship upset no one had predicted.
So they didn’t quite pull it off, but the very fact Clare got so close will have raised their stock considerably, while at the same time, raised a few more hard questions about Tipperary. No team can afford to concede a comfortable advantage twice during a match, and for the second game in succession, and not face some hard questions.
Still the difference between winning and losing was only fully realised a short while afterwards – as Tipperary turned their attention to defending their Munster title against Waterford on July 12th, in Thurles, and Clare turned their attention to the difficult qualifier draw against Galway. There is no way back for Clare from here on. There is for Tipp.
Inevitably after such a close finish both teams could still draw plenty of positives. For Tipp that started with the man-of-the-match performance from 18-year-old Noel McGrath, who ended with 0-7 – with no score more valuable than his 70th-minute free which gave Tipp the last bit of breathing space they needed.
For Clare, the championship debut of Colin Ryan was in ways the most impressive display of all. He ended up with a tremendous 0-12 and very nearly stole the show altogether with his last-minute free. Needing the goal, Ryan deftly curled the ball over the heads of the Tipp defenders, and it looked to be dropping into the top of the net only for Brendan Cummins to skilfully divert it over the bar.
Clare may not have deserved to win it at that stage, but certainly would have deserved the draw – something which Tipp manager Liam Sheedy had no reservations agreeing with. No doubt most of the 20,872 in attendance would have agreed as well.
The difference then, ultimately, was Tipp’s three goals, each one as well taken as the next and each one threatening to kill the game long before the finish. Lar Corbett finished the first after just eight minutes, with a nice one-handed flick, and that helped Tipp to a 1-6 to one score advantage.
Clare briefly rallied, but within 10 minutes Tipp had their second, this one finished just as impressively by Séamus Callanan. That pushed them 11 points clear – 2-10 to 0-5 – and the scary part was it was fairly reflective of the pattern of play.
Tipp looked superbly fit, constantly moved the ball, while Clare stood off, waiting for ball, often standing still.
There were at least two fairly convincing theories presented afterwards to explain why Tipp raced into such an advantage after 28 minutes: the first, that their opening game against Cork gave them a definite edge; the second, that Clare’s hangover from league relegation was more severe than expected. Either way there was only one team in this match for the majority of the opening period.
But then there was only one team in it for the majority of the second half as well, and that was Clare. Tipp centre back Conor O’Mahony was unable to resume duty for the second half because of injury, but that was only the start of their problems.
Clare needed to make some running repairs and eventually they looked the part: Pat Donnellan moved up to man-mark the rampant Shane McGrath, allowing Brian O’Connell to drop into the half-back line. Soon Clare were so dominant there the Tipp half forward line gradually practically disintegrated.
Diarmuid McMahon’s 1-1 in the minute before half time had given Clare the little bit of hope they needed – and they turned around 2-11 to 1-8 in arrears. They started the second half brightly too, but somehow allowed Tipp to steal a march again.
James Woodlock hit a nice score, before on 46 minutes, Corbett played a great ball in towards John O’Brien, who promptly fetched and fired it into the Clare net. With their lead restored to nine points it once again looked as good as over.
If only, Sheedy must have thought. What happened over the remaining 20 minutes was a bit of blur for both teams, but what mattered is Clare were doing all the scoring – and outscored Tipp 10-3 in that last period. Finally, there were hustling and working for every ball and Tipp were genuinely rattled.
James McInerney, who like Ryan was making his championship debut, gradually began to master full back, although there was able assistance from Pat Vaughan, Brendan Bugler and Alan Markham.
Ryan, though, was growing in confidence with every score. Niall Gilligan had been notably quiet but could have made up for it with six minutes remaining with a thunderous shot that brought another class save from Cummins – and Ryan was unlucky not to finish it off.
Clare substitute John Conlon also chipped in with a valuable score, and with five minutes to play Ryan hit another free that brought Clare to within three. Tipp were on the edge and close to being pushed off. Eoin Kelly, who is clearly not playing without some pain, was replaced by his brother Paul but still Tipp couldn’t find the scores they needed.
Heading into injury-time, Ryan sent over a 65-metre free without blinking and there seemed to be no saving Tipp. Until the teenager stepped up, and cool as ice, McGrath slipped over the free that forced Clare to chase that last-gasp goal. The very fact that they were chasing it gave them plenty to think about for the rest of the summer.
TIPPERARY: 1 B Cummins; 2 P Stapleton, 3 P Curran, 4 C O’Brien; 5 D Fanning (0-1), 6 C O’Mahony, 7 P Maher; 8 J Woodlock (0-1), 9 S McGrath; 10 P Kerwick (0-3), 11 S Callanan (1-0), 14 J O’Brien (1-2); 13 E Kelly (0-3, all frees), 12 L Corbett (1-1), 15 N McGrath (0-7, one free, sideline). Subs: 31 B Maher for O’Mahony (half time, inj), 28 W Ryan for Kerwick (54 mins), 21 B Dunne for McGrath (63 mins), 26 H Maloney for Callanan (64 mins), 24 P Kelly for E Kelly (67 mins). Yellow cards: C O’Brien (18 mins), P Curran (39 mins).
CLARE: 1 P Brennan; 2 P Vaughan, 3 J McInerney; 4 G O’Grady; 5 P Donnellan, 6 B Bugler, 7 A Markham; 8 B O’Connell, 15 J Clancy (0-2); 10 T Carmody (0-1), 11 D McMahon (1-2), 9 T Griffin (0-3); 13 N Gilligan, 14 D Barrett (0-1), 12 C Ryan (0-12, six frees, two 65s, one sideline). Subs: 20 B Nugent for Carmody (60 mins), 22 J Conlon (0-1) for Barrett (62 mins), 19 G O’Connell for Clancy (65 mins). Yellow cards: N Gilligan (18 mins), J Clancy (49 mins), B O’Connell (57 mins).
Referee: James Owens (Wexford)
CLARE v TIPPERARY
Reigning Munster champions, Tipperary got their campaign off to a great start with a three point win over Cork in the Munster quarter-final whereas Clare will be having their first outing. Clare have lost their last two championship clashes with Tipperary, leaving them seeking their first win over their great rivals since 2003. Tipperary had eight points to spare over Clare in last year’s Munster final and were seven points clear in the League clash last March.
Last Five Championship Clashes
2008: Tipperary 2-21 Clare 0-19 (Munster final)
2005: Tipperary 2-14 Clare 0-14 (Munster semi-final)
2003: Clare 2-17 Tipperary 0-14 (Munster quarter-final)
2002: Tipperary 1-18 Clare 2-13 (Munster quarter-final)
2001: Tipperary 0-15 Clare 0-14 (Munster semi-final)
Last Championship Clash
Tipperary 2-21 Clare 0-19 (2008 Munster final) John O’Brien (1-4), Eoin Kelly (0-6) and Seamus Callanan (1-3) were Tipperary’s main marksmen as they won their first Munster title since 2001.
Tipperary 0-23 Clare 0-16 (NHL: 1 March 2009) Seamus Callanan (0-9) and Willie Ryan (0-7) did most of the damage for Tipperary who ran out seven point winners in Semple Stadium.
Clare v Tipperary
From the RTE.ie web site
What a difference a year makes. When these two sides met in the Munster final just under 12 months ago Clare were on a high following impressive victories over Waterford and Limeick. And even though they were beaten on the day and would eventually exit the All-Ireland series at the hands of Cork at the quarter-final stage, there was the feeling that the Banner were heading in the right direction.
But whatever progress was made last summer dissipated in a NHL Division One campaign that ended with relegation and amid persistent rumours of problems within the camp. And the loss of full-back Conor Cooney through an ankle ligament injury doesn’t bode well for Mike McNamara’s men.
For Tipp, on the other hand, the outlook is good. A hard-fought win over Cork, which followed a narrow defeat in their epic league final defeat to Kilkenny, will have brought them up to Championship speed, which will be a distinct advantage over Sunday’s opponents. Add to that the confidence that is exuding from the Premier County these days, and it is hard to see anything but a comfortable win at the Gaelic Grounds for Liam Sheedy’s men.
Sheedy has wisely decided not tinker too much with a winning formula, with Pat Kerwick coming into the forward line at the expense of Micheál Webster the only change in personnel. Eoin Kelly was a surprise starter the last day, but the Mullinahone sharpshooter showed no signs of the back trouble that saw him sit out the league campaign. There is always the chance that wounded pride could bring the best out of Clare, but even then they would struggle against a Tipp side with Kilkenny’s All-Ireland crown in their sights.