Tipp beat Clare to take Waterford Crystal Cup

; Conor O'Brien, Tipperary, in action against David Raidy, Clare. Picture: SPORTSFILE

Tipperary were crowned 2014 Waterford Crystal Cup champions at the Gaelic Grounds tonight.

Eamon O’Shea’s Premier County were too good for All-Ireland champions Clare in Limerick.

Some 1248 spectators watched on a rain-sodden evening as Tipp produced a powerful second half performance to regain the title they last won in 2012.

In the third successive Waterford Crystal Cup final between the counties, Tipp turned up the heat after half-time to blow away Davy Fitzgerald’s Banner men.

Clare were a point ahead at half-time, 3-5 to 1-10, but they were outscored by 0-6 to 3-12 in a one-sided second period.

In the first half, Tipp led by 0-8 to 0-4 when Michael Heffernan’s scrappy 24th minute goal put real daylight between the sides.

Thomas Stapleton’s lengthy delivery stuck in the Clare goalmouth and as goalkeeper Patrick Kelly attempted to clear, Heffernan bundled the ball home from close range.

On an evening when Clare lined out with eight of the team that started last year’s All-Ireland final replay win over Cork, Tipp enjoyed an encouraging early-season success ahead of next Saturday evening’s opening Allianz NHL Division 1A clash with Waterford.

Clare’s cause wasn’t helped tonight either by a tally of 12 wides – including seven in the first half when they were on top.

But Clare did show why they were so deadly last year by notching 3-1 within five first half minutes.

John Conlon, 2013 Hurler of the Year Tony Kelly and Conor McGrath raised green flags to hand Fitzgerald’s men the whip hand.

Conlon struck in the 26th minute beore Kelly and McGrath registered goals within 60 seconds of each other.

Tipp responded with the closing two points of the first half to remain very much in touch and they were relentless in the second period, outscoring the Banner men by 3-12 to 0-6.

Conor Kenny netted a 38th minute goal for the winners before Denis Maher bagged a brace.

The Thurles Sarsfields man cracked home a fine 48th minute goal and he struck again six minutes later.

CLARE: P Kelly; P Flanagan, C Dillon, S Morey; C Cleary, P Donnellan, P O’Connor; S Golden, P Duggan (0-2); S Golden, P Duggan; J Conlon (1-1), T Kelly (1-2), C Ryan (0-3, 2f); D Reidy, C McGrath (1-0), C O’Connell 0-3, 2f.

Subs: C McInerney for Golden h.t., S Collins for Ryan 50, D McInerney for Flanagan 64.

TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; C Barrett, C O’Mahony, R Maher; S McGrath, C O’Brien (0-1f), T Stapleton (0-1); J Woodlock (0-2), S Bourke (0-1); D Maher (2-2), S Callanan (0-9, 7f), P Murphy; K Morris (0-2), C Kenny (1-0), M Heffernan (1-1).

Subs: R Gleeson (0-2) for Bourke 63, J O’Dwyer for Morris 63, S O’Brien (0-1) for Kenny 63, P Heffernan for McGrath 66.

Referee: J Sexton (Cork).

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