Bord Gais Energy Munster Under 21 Hurling Championship Semi-Final – Clare 1-15 Limerick 1-12

Clare defeated Limerick by 1-15 to 1-12 in the Bord Gais Energy Munster Under 21 Hurling Championship Semi-Final on Wednesday at the Gaelic Grounds Limerick.

O’Connor inspires Banner in thriller

Limerick 1-12 Clare 1-15

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Thursday, July 15, 2010

REIGNING Munster and All-Ireland U21 champions Clare stay on course to retain their titles, but only after a hugely entertaining battle against Limerick in this Munster semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds last evening. Most of the kudos for Clare’s success will go to their two outstanding inside-forwards Darach Honan (1-3, all from play) and Conor McGrath (0-9, 0-4 from play), and understandably so – the scorers are always the guys to catch the eye, and mightily as their two markers tried all hour (Patrick Begley on Honan, Brian Cleary on McGrath), those two were well-nigh unmarkable last night. The foundation for this success, however, goes much further back the field, to a superb keeper in Donal Touhy (two brilliant saves) to an inside defensive line that was alert, snappy and decisive in everything they did, and to a half-back line that became a veritable wall as the game progressed.

Midfielder Pat Vaughan switched to the right wing early on with Nicky O’Connell and did well; centre-back Caimin Morey was a rock in the centre, and it was his mighty catch in a crowded Clare parallelogram, all four of Limerick’s 6’4″ giants parked in the area for Thomas O’Brien’s last-minute lobbed free, that saw Clare safely home. Most of all, however, there was Patrick O’Connor from the renowned Tubber club, at left-half-back; whether in the air (where he grabbed several successive Limerick second half puckouts) or on the ground, O’Connor was supreme – a master-class in wing-back play. With no breeze to speak of, dark clouds overhead but the rain holding off, it was Limerick with the better start, three points on the board courtesy of senior star Thomas O’Brien (0-2) and the flying Seanie Tobin!, before Clare had their first, a pointed free from McGrath in the 11th minute.

It was Limerick again with the next three points, midfielders O’Brien and Paul Browne (another senior) and Tobin again. It was looking like a tame surrender of their championship belts by Clare, but the last ten minutes of the half saw a complete turnaround, and it was the deadly duo, Honan (0-2) and McGrath (0-2), along with substitute corner-forward Eoin Hayes, doing all the scoring, leaving it tied at the break, 0-6 each. Where the first half went first one way for 20 minutes, then the other for ten, the second half was blow for blow, the teams swapping points six times up to the 53rd minute, at which stage it was still tied, 0-12 each.

A superb point from Browne in the 55th minute edged Limerick ahead, much to the delight of their huge following, and then, ironically and unfortunately, given how well both sides were defending, the game’s first major, and it was an own goal, Clare corner-back James Gunning making accidental contact with the ball (though under fierce pressure from James O’Brien) and booting to the net. That could have signalled disaster for Clare, instead it inspired, and within the minute, after a great cross from John Conlan, Honan had the ball buried at the other end. One point lead restored, 1-13 to 1-12, from there Clare drove on, points from Honan and McGrath closing it out. Great game, pity there had to be a loser, but no argument about the winner.

Scorers for Clare: C McGrath, 0-9 (5f); D Honan 1-3; P Vaughan, E Hayes, N O’Connell (65), 0-1 each.

Scorers for Limerick: T O’Brien, 0-5 (1f, 2‘65s); P Browne, 0-2; S Tobin, 0-2; D Hannon, M Kiely, K Owens (0-1 each); D Nash (Clare, own goal).

CLARE: D Touhy; D Nash, C Chaplin, J Gunning; N O’Connell, C Morey, P O’Connor; S Golden, P Vaughan; S Collins, J Conlan (capt), K Heagney; F Kennedy, D Honan, C McGrath.

Subs: E Hayes for Kennedy (inj 6); K Moynihan for Heagney (46).

LIMERICK: B Hennessey: B Cleary, P Begley, C Hayes: P O’Brien, P O’Loughlin (capt), N Quaid; T O’Brien, P Browne; J O’Brien, C Madden, D Hannon; M Kiely, S Tobin, G Mulcahy.

Subs: K Owens for Madden (30); S Madden for Kiely (54). Blood sub: J Riordan for Cleary (58/59).

Referee: C McAllister (Cork)

Team News

LIMERICK : B Hennessey, B Cleary, P Begley, C Hayes, Padraig O’Brien, P O’Loughlin, N Quaid, T O’Brien, P Browne, James O’Brien, C Madden, D Hannon, M. Kiely, S Tobin, G Mulcahy.

CLARE: TBC

Bord Gais Energy Munster Under 21 Hurling Championship Semi-Final – Tipperary 2-17 Cork 0-21

Tipperary defeated Cork by 2-17 to 0-21 after extra time in the Bord Gais Energy Munster Under 21 Hurling Championship Semi-Final on Wednesday at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Premier go the extra again to deny Rebels

Tipperary 2-17 Cork 0-21

By Fintan O’Toole for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Thursday, July 15, 2010

FOR the second year running extra-time was necessary to facilitate an outcome to a Bord Gáis Energy Munster U21HC tie between Tipperary and Cork last night in Páirc Ui Chaoimh, and once again it was Tipperary who prevailed in this semi-final after a marathon battle. There were 3,598 patrons present to witness another absorbing clash, where the excitement and quality grew in tandem as the action unfolded. The impressive manner in which they enhanced their display in extra-time entitled Tipperary to bear the mantle of victors, with their megawatt names like Noel McGrath, Seamus Hennessy and Padraig Maher shining brightly when the play was at its fiercest and most critical stage. They will look forward in expectation to a final date against Clare in a fortnight on their own Thurles turf, in a clash that will evoke vivid memories of the teams meeting in the 2008 decider that concluded in a blaze of controversy.

Cork will look back on this match with grim regrets. The win was within their grasp in normal time after a perfect scoring streak in the final quarter. They trailed 1-11 to 0-10 as the game turned towards its final straight but a run of seven points on the trot utterly transformed the complexion of this tie in favour of Ger Fitzgerald’s charges. Spurred on by sterling defensive work from James Nagle and William Egan, Cork were rampant at this stage and a listless Tipperary team seemed incapable of summoning a response. However they roused themselves in the 58th minute when Ciaran Haugh flighted a ball forward, which was gathered by Kieran Morris and after he turned to race towards goal, the Cork rearguard interrupted his movement illegally. Hennessy stood up to assume the pressure of the 20-yard free and the stark realisation that a goal was the solitary outcome that could save Tipp did not perturb him, as the Kilruane McDonagh’s player blasted to the net.

In extra-time Tipperary seemed emboldened by their last-gasp act of salvation. Noel McGrath was in sparkling form around midfield and his prominence turned the match in Tipperary’s favour. McGrath swept three points between the posts in the first-half of extra-time and coupled with a pair of points in a vibrant display by sub Sean Carey, Tipperary were 2-16 to 0-18 ahead by the 70th minute. Cork attempted to mount a rally in the closing 10 minutes but the Tipperary defensive unit were in miserly form. Robert O’Driscoll, Daniel Kearney and Ryan Clifford all split the posts with points yet it was a goal that Cork craved to ignite their challenge. Tipperary had stamped their authority on the game early as they manufactured a 0-6 to 0-4. Seamus Hennessy hit three points from open play, a ‘65 and a exquisite sideline cut. The services of Cork goalkeeper Darren McCarthy were required twice in this period and he acquitted himself superbly.

Cork’s improved as the game progressed. Eoin Keane was a tower of strength at the edge of the square, Daniel Kearney ensured they were competitive in the scraps around the middle third for possession and Ryan Clifford’s shooting from placed balls was extremely high. But it was Tipperary who edged 1-8 to 0-7 ahead at the interval with the goal supplied by their most dangerous attacker in the half, Michael Heffernan. Patrick Maher made the hard yards in along the left wing and when he off-loaded across, Heffernan’s delightful whip in the air gave Darren McCarthy no chance. Tipperary maintained that position of supremacy in the second-half and there was a sense that they were able to keep Cork at arm’s length. But Tipperary were not exactly scaling the heights in their play and with the match there to be seized, Cork took command in the final quarter. McCarthy made another inspirational save to deny O’Dwyer and Cork’s string of scores set them on course for victory. But Hennessy’s goal and Tipperary’s greater strength in extra-time ultimately proved the crucial factors.

Scorers for Tipperary: N McGrath 0-6 (0-4f), S Hennessy 1-3 (1-0f, 0-1 ‘65, 0-1 sideline), M Heffernan 1-2, S Carey 0-2, P Maher, P Murphy, J O’Dwyer, B Maher 0-1 each.

Cork: R Clifford 0-9 (0-8f), M Bowles 0-3, W Egan (0-1f, 0-1 ‘65), L O’Farrell, D Kearney 0-2 each, R White, R O’Driscoll 0-1 each.

TIPPERARY: J Logue; K O’Gorman, J Coghlan, M Cahill; J Barry, Padraig Maher, B Maher; S Hennessy, A Ryan; D Maher, Patrick Maher, P Murphy; N McGrath, J O’Dwyer, M Heffernan. Subs: T Butler for D Maher (26), S Carey for Ryan (44), K Morris for O’Dwyer (50), C Hough for Barry (55), B O’Meara for Murphy (58), J O’Neill for Morris (78)

CORK: D McCarthy; S McDonnell, E Keane, C O’Sullivan; J Nagle, W Egan, L McLoughlin; D Kearney, S O’Farrell; M Collins, D Roche, M Bowles; R White, L O’Farrell, R Clifford. Subs: P Gould for Collins (26), C Lehane for White (59), M O’Sullivan for Lehane (60), S Corry for S O’Farrell (66), F Keane for Roche (68), R O’Driscoll for Gould (70)

Referee: Ger Hoey (Clare)

Match Updates

Follow the match with live updates from 7:30pm on www.twitter.com/tipperarygaa or www.facebook.com/tipperarygaa.

Team News

The Tipperary U-21 hurling team to play Cork in the Munster U-21 hurling semi-final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Wednesday night, July 14th includes 7 senior hurling team panellists and will be captained by centre back Padraic Maher:

The team is:

1. James Logue (Ballingarry)

2. Kevin O’Gorman (Thurles Sarsfields)

3. John Coghlan (Moyne Templetuohy)

4. Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields)

5. James Barry (Upperchurch Drombane)

6. Paudie Maher (Thurles Sarsfields) Captain

7. Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh)

8. Seamus Hennessy (Kilruane MacDonaghs)

9. Noel McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney)

10. Denis Maher (Thurles Sarsfields)

11. Patrick Maher (Lorrha and Dorrha)

12. Paddy Murphy (Nenagh Éire Óg)

13. Adrian Ryan (Templederry Kenyons)

14. John O’Dwyer (Killenaule)

15. Michael Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg)

CORK : D McCarthy, S McDonnell, E Keane, C O’Sullivan, J Nagle, W Egan, L McLaughlin, D Kearney, S O’Farrell, M Collins, D Roche, M Bowles, R White, L O’Farrell, R Clifford