Tipp’s experience was vital in Páirc Uí Chaoimh today as they showed all their nous to edge out Clare in the All-Ireland SHC quarter-final, hitting five points in the closing stages for a three-point win, writes Michael Moynihan.
With both teams lining out as selected, and in the same positions, Clare were first off the mark through Tony Kelly, but the McGrath brothers, John and Noel, edged Tipp ahead by the fourth minute.
Podge Collins had a half-sight of goal but had to be content with a point; Clare then piled up for consecutive wides. Tipp were more clinical, nudging three ahead by the tenth minute.
Clare opened Tipp up again though the middle and Conor McGrath goaled, but referee Colm Lyons correctly called the play back for over-carrying.
Two quick Seamus Callanan frees and another from John McGrath made the gap six, with Clare struggling to get a foothold in the middle of the field. A Kelly free stopped the rot but it was 0-8 to 0-3 at the end of the first quarter.
With Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher causing problems for Clare with his charging runs, Clare needed a boost, and Aaron Cunningham provided it with a fine goal. Within a minute the same player had another goal, having rounded Tipp ‘keeper Daragh Mooney after a sharp Shane O’Donnell pass: 2-3 to 0-9 on 20 minutes. Game on.
Clare put the ball wide four times in a row after that, however, with Michael Breen, ‘Bonner’ Maher and Callanan (free) restoring the lead for Tipp with three points.
Jamie Shanahan and Conor McGrath cut Tipp’s lead to one, with the Premier now hitting three wides. Tipp settled, however, with Callanan, John O’Dwyer, John McGrath and Seamus Kennedy (from range) stretched that lead to five in a two-minute spell, however, leaving the score 0-16 to 2-5 at the half.
Five minutes into the second half Tipp opened up the Clare defence but Callanan blasted over rather than under the bar.
Clare continued to struggle with their restarts but troubled their opponents’ full-back line when they got upfield, as shown by three close-in frees Kelly pointed.
By the fiftieth minute Clare had edged within four, 2-9 to 0-19, though Tipp didn’t have to work as hard to get scores, picking points from range, such as Noel McGrath’s to stretch their lead to five.
He and his brother made it a seven-point game before sub David Reidy replied for Clare with a free, but Tipp looked comfortable turning into the final quarter. Clare hit four on the spin, punctuated by two Tipperary wides, to make it a four-point game with ten minutes remaining, however. When David Reidy and Cathal McInerney added two more there were only two points in it, improbably enough, and Aaron Cunningham then missed a difficult goal chance.
McGrath snapped over a fine point and there was one in it with five on the clock: now Tipp were hitting wides, but Callahan won a free O’Dwyer converted, and Ronan Maher blasted over a long range free just afterwards. There was still time for John McGrath and subs Steven O’Brien and Jason Forde to add insurance points, though Shane O’Donnell got a late, late consolation goal for Clare.
Scorers for Clare: A. Cunningham (2-0), T. Kelly (0-4 frees)(0-6); S. O’Donnell (1-2); C. McGrath, D. Reidy (frees)(0-2 each); P. Duggan, C. McInerney, C. Galvin, J. Shanahan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Tipperary: S. Callanan (0-3 frees)(0-7); J. McGrath (0-6); J. O’Dwyer (0-1 free, N. McGrath (0-4 each); P. Maher, M. Breen (0-2 each); B. Maher (free), S. O’Brien, J. Forde (0-1 each).
Clare: A. Fahy, S. Morey, P. O’Connor (c), C. Dillon, D. Fitzgerald, C. Cleary, J. Shanahan, C. Galvin, T. Kelly, C. Malone, P. Collins, J. Conlon, S. O’Donnell, A. Cunningham, C. McGrath.
Subs: P. Duggan for Conlon (32); D. Reidy for Collins (52); C. McInerney for Malone (56); J. McCarthy for Kelly (66).
Tipperary: D. Mooney, D Maher, T. Hamill, J. Barry, S. Kennedy, R Maher, P Maher (c), B. Maher, M. Breen, N. McGrath, Patrick Maher, D. McCormack, J. O’Dwyer, S. Callanan, J. McGrath.
Subs: S. O’Brien for Barry (44); J. Forde for Breen (60); S. O’Brien for Callanan (68).
Referee: C. Lyons (Cork).