By Jackie Cahill at Cusack Park, Ennis
Clare 0-20 Tipperary 2-19
Davy Fitzgerald’s Clare sunk deeper into the relegation mire in Ennis this afternoon as John McGrath-inspired Tipperary scored a five-point victory at Cusack Park.
Tipp collected a second successive League win to ease any lingering relegation playoff fears as an encouraging display saw the Premier County boost their quarter-final hopes.
But Clare are pointless after three games as second half goals from Noel McGrath and James Woodlock accounted for the home side in front of 7,363 spectators.
McGrath, younger brother of Noel, helped himself to five points from play – a haul matched by Clare centre back Conor Ryan.
At half-time, Tipp were 0-13 to 0-9 clear, with a blistering end to the first half opening up some real breathing space.
Tipp were 0-10 to 0-9 in front before John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer landed a free to open a two-point gap.
And that advantage was extended by a Michael Breen point from distance, before the wing-back fed top scorer Seamus Callanan for his sixth point of the half.
Tipp quickly surged six points clear on the resumption as Breen struck again before John McGrath added another for Eamon O’Shea’s visitors, now playing against the breeze into the Town End.
Clare launched a revival that took them to within three points as Colin Ryan pointed three frees but Noel McGrath’s 44th minute goal knocked the wind out of Clare’s sails.
Clare, to their credit, kept fighting and Tony Kelly forced a good save from Darren Gleeson in the 54th minute.
And as the home supporters urged their side on, Clare were within striking distance again, just two points down, when Conor Ryan banged over a quickfire brace of scores.
But Tipp closed the game out when Callanan’s beautiful pass cracked open the Clare defence, allowing Woodlock a clear run on goal.
The combative midfielder struck a shot towards Patrick Kelly’s top corner and while the Clare netminder got a stick to it, he couldn’t keep the ball out and Tipp had their match-clinching second goal.
Scorers for Tipperary: S Callanan 0-7 (5f), J McGrath 0-5, J O’Dwyer 0-4 (2f), N McGrath & J Woodlock 1-0 each, M Breen 0-2, J Forde 0-1.
Scorers for Clare: C Ryan 0-8f, C Ryan 0-5, T Kelly (1f) & J Conlon 0-2 each, C Galvin, C McGrath & S O’Donnell 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; C Barrett, C O’Mahony, C O’Brien; M Breen, P Maher, R Maher; K Bergin, J Woodlock; C Kenny, J O’Dwyer, N O’Meara; N McGrath, S Callanan, J McGrath.
Subs: J Forde for Kenny (50), G Ryan for O’Meara (57), S McGrath for N McGrath (61), S Bourke for J McGrath (66), T Stapleton for Woodlock (70+3).
CLARE: P Kelly; P Flanagan, C Dillon, D McInerney; B Bugler, C Ryan, P O’Connor; P Donnellan, C Galvin; C Ryan, T Kelly, S Golden; C McGrath, S O’Donnell, J Conlon.
Subs: A Cunningham for Golden (h.t.), S Morey for Donnellan (62), C Cleary for Bugler (65).
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).