Tipperary emerged winners to ensure their place in the league final next Monday and, while there was never really any doubt about them succeeding, Clare smoothed their passage by wasting goal chances.
Tipp manager Michael Doyle said: “We set out at the start of the league to give a good account of ourselves and we have done that. We are in the final. You can’t ask for any more than that. Our biggest concern now is that we don’t pick up any injuries between now and the championship.”
Cyril Lyons captured the mood of the afternoon, describing it as “a funny game”.
“Mentally, it was difficult for both teams,” he said.
“We created a lot of goal chances and didn’t take any of them. We had a five-minute period (before the break) where we had total control and should have scored a goal and three or four points,” said the Clare manager.
“It shows how much we have to do.”
The crowd of about 3,000 saw Tipperary force the pace after overcoming a challenging opening 15 minutes against the wind.
Starting without Brian Lohan and Colin Lynch and waiting until half-time to introduce James O’Connor, Clare opened up a three-point lead by the fifth minute.
They started well at half-back/midfield, with an experimental attack also looking lively.
They missed the first of five goal chances as early as the eighth minute, when Brendan Cummins stopped a low, angled shot from Barry Murphy.
Tipp then made steady progress, with David Kennedy solid at centre-back, Thomas Dunne influential around the centre of the field and Eugene O’Neill and Liam Cahill moving well in attack.
Because of the tenacious defending of Frank Lohan, it took Eoin Kelly a long time to create space to make some good openings and finish well.
An opportunist point from the classy Dunne had the sides level at 0-8 each by the 22nd minute, which was a good return for Tipp, considering Conor Gleeson was not making much headway at centre-forward and Mark O’Leary also found it hard against Gerry Quinn.
On the other hand, Lar Corbett was a threat once he settled at full-forward, although Ronan O’Looney was never to be outclassed.
Clare were denied a second time by Cummins when he chested down a low shot from Andrew Quinn but at a stage when the Clare forwards were more threatening they got a miserly return.
Niall Gilligan was the major offender, missing a simple chance in the 29th minute after being put through by Daithí Ó Connaill, hitting two more wides and another chance harmlessly into the ‘keeper’s hands.
At the break it was 0-11 to 0-9 for Tipperary.
Eight seconds into the second half, Liam Cahill hit over an excellent score.
And, with Tipp taking control, it was Davy Fitzgerald’s turn to shine. He stopped shots from Corbett in the 44th and 52nd minute.
To add to Clare’s woes, Jamesie O’Connor looked off the pace following his recent injury, while Alan Markham saw a 66th-minute kicked effort pushed outside the post and sub Conor Earlie then missed with a poor effort.
However, they continued to defend well and Tony Griffin put in a big effort at midfield.
However, their forwards rarely managed to put the Tipp backs under pressure, which was a tribute to their corner-backs and Brian Horgan at right-half.
Denis Byrne made another appearance for Tipp eight minutes from time but he never saw the ball.
*Michael Wadding handled an easy job of refereeing capably.
Scorers: Tipperary 0-6 (0-2 frees); E. O’Neill 0-5; T. Dunne 0-4 (0-2 frees); L. Corbett 0-3; M. O’Leary 0-2; C. Gleeson and L. Cahill 0-1 each. Clare: N. Gilligan 0-4 (0-3 frees); A. Quinn 0-4 (0-1 free); S. McMahon 0-3 frees; T. Griffin 0-2 and D. McMahon 0-1.
TIPPERARY: B. Cummins; M. Maher, P. Maher, B. Dunne; B. Horgan, D. Kennedy, P. Kelly; T. Dunne, A. Butler; M. O’Leary, C. Gleeson, L. Cahill; E. Kelly (capt.), E. O’Neill, L. Corbett. Subs: R. Flannery for Butler (41st); D. Byrne for O’Leary (62nd).
CLARE: D. Fitzgerald; B. Quinn, R. O’Looney, F. Lohan; G. O’Grady, S. McMahon (capt.), G. Quinn; T. Griffin, D. McMahon; D. O Connaill; F. Lynch, A. Markham; N. Gilligan, A. Quinn, B. Murphy. Subs: J. O’Connor for Lynch (second half); C. Earlie for O’Grady (51st); K. Ralph for O Connaill (63rd).
Referee: M. Wadding (Waterford).