Their semi-final berth assured, while Clare head for the more arduous round-robin route.
Played in excellent conditions, the game which featured many of the stars of this season’s Harty Cup never quite managed to ignite, in spite of the encouragement of a fine attendance of nearly 5,000.
With eight of the St Flannan’s team that will shortly contest the All-Ireland colleges senior final, Clare looked the stronger side early on, building up a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 22nd minute, courtesy of points from Joe O’Connor, Colin Ryan (0-2) and wing-forward Conor Nealon. Tipperary would have been closer at that stage but for the atypical inaccuracy of free-taker Brendan Maher. The last 10 minutes saw Tipp captain Joey McLoughney take over those duties, however, to much greater effect.
A rifled 22nd minute penalty put Tipp into a 1-2 to 0-4 lead. Points from Gearoid Ryan, Patrick Bourke and a fine individual effort by full-forward Seamus Hennessey extended that lead. A professional foul in the 30th minute by Tipp full-back Paul Fitzgerald, however, pulling down Colin Ryan after the full-forward had stepped inside him, was to prove costly. Yellow card for Fitzgerald, goal from the subsequent 20-metre free by Ryan and the sides were level.
Two late pointed frees by McLoughney saw Tipp take the lead into the break, 1-7 to 1-5.
With the breeze now at their backs, Tipperary stepped it up a couple of notches in the second half. Wing-forward Seamus Callanan moved to full-forward in a direct swap with Seamus Hennessey which benefited both. Niall Bergin began to dominate around the 40, Maher and McLoughney dominated in midfield.
It took a while for that dominance to tell and for the first 20 minutes of the half it was three points apiece, Tipp maintaining that two-point advantage. Eventually, Clare began to crack. A goal in the 53rd minute was the decisive score, a fine diagonal ball from Bergin finding Callanan, who drew the corner-back before placing the unmarked Patrick Bourke, who goaled. It was then 2-10 to 1-8 and it was all Tipp for the final 10 minutes, McLoughney with two more pointed frees, Callanan with the final say.
Tipp are not the finished article but they do have a tidy defence, strong midfield, decent forwards. Not a good result for Clare. They should be too strong for Kerry, but with the losers of tonight’s Cork/Limerick clash also in the round-robin, they will have to improve to make the semi-final.
: Tipperary: J. McLoughney 1-5 (1-0 p, 0-4 f); P. Bourke 1-1; S. Hennessy 0-2; G. Ryan 0-2; B. Maher 0-2; S. Callanan 0-1. Clare: C. Ryan 1-3 (frees); J. O’Connor 0-3; C. Nealon, D. Reidy (free), 0-1 each.
: J. Ryan; M. Cahill, P. Fitzgerald, J. O’Keeffe; E. Hogan, T. Stapleton, W. O’Dwyer; J. McLoughney (c), B. Maher; S. Callanan, N. Bergin, G. Ryan; P. Bourke, S. Hennessey, T. Dunne. Subs: T. Dalton (Dunne 51).
: A. Murnane; J. Gunning, D. O’Donovan, N. O’Connell; C. O’Doherty, E. Glynn, C. Madden; D. Reidy, E. Barrett; J. Conlon, J. Meaney, C. Neylon; J. O’Connor, C. Ryan, C. Tierney (c).
: C. Morey (Conlon 37); C. Duggan (Meaney 41); C. O’Donovan (Tierney 51); D. Ryan (O’Doherty 55); J. Moloney (Glynn inj. 56).
: M. O’Connor (Limerick).
Meanwhile, a superior Laois side outclassed Laois 3-20 to 1-9 in the Leinster Minor Hurling Championship at Cusack Park. After an early goal, when William Hyland’s free was dropped by the Westmeath keeper, Laois led by 1-10 to 1-6 at half time and never looked like being caught.
: Laois: W Hyland 1-8 (1-5 frees), J Prior 2-2, J O’Loughlin 0-5 (1f), G Reddin 0-4, P Bergin 0-1. Westmeath: E Price 0-6 (2 ‘65s, 3f), A Devine 1-0, R Jackson, S Egan and N Kilcoyne 0-1 each.
: P Carroll; B Galvin, D Dooley, B Stapleton; D Maher, M Whelan, J Gaughan; W Hyland, E Hearns; D Ferns, J O’Loughlin, G Reddin; J Prior, D O’Flaherty, E Dwyer.
: J Greville; C Flanagan, C Curley, D Geerah; T Gillen, E Doolin, J Boyle; S Conway, A Giles; E Price, S Egan, J Shaw; A Devine, R Jackson, N Kilcoyne. Subs: S Boyce for T Gillen (31).
: F Smith (Meath).