Three points out of four is an acceptable return for Tipp from their first two outings but Clare boss Colm Collins lamented some poor decision-making in the first half from his players, who operated with a strong wind from the start. This tie was played in atrocious conditions at Sean Treacy Park in Tipperary Town, as heavier rain became a feature of the second half.
Clare registered 10 first-half wides and were 0-4 to 1-4 behind at the break, Tipp’s goal an early one courtesy of Conor Sweeney, who picked up the pieces after the impressive Philip Austin rattled a shot off the crossbar.
Clare were betwixt and between regarding their tactics, as inspirational captain Gary Brennan started at midfield, and did well before being perched on the edge of the square.
It seemed a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul but presumably the thinking was to engineer a goal and go route one to Brennan.
But Tipp coped admirably with his considerable threat, and had a platform to work from in the second half.
Clare, to their credit, came out and made a real game of it, with David Tubridy kicking a couple of brilliant frees against the elements to haul the Banner men back into contention.
They refused to go away and with nine minutes left, the tide appeared to have turned in their direction as Jamie Malone fired a brilliant goal, shortly after Tipp’s Jimmy Feehan was black-carded.
But the home side’s response was brilliant as new captain Peter Acheson grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, cutting through the Clare defence before fisting across the face of goal to Brian Fox, who applied the finish.
That goal was the game’s final score and Tipp held out to make it a satisfactory opening to their league campaign — with a visit to Westmeath next on the horizon in three weeks.
Kearns said: “That was a war of attrition — we came out on the right side of it. We laid the foundations in the first half but in fairness to Clare, they came out and played as well as we did in the first half, and gave us loads of it.” Clare boss Colm Collins reflected: “We had some terrible wides (in the first half). In a lot of cases, we should have been a lot more patient but you’d be very proud of their display in the second half.”
B Fox 1-1, P Austin 0-4 (2f), C Sweeney 1-0, P Acheson & J Keane 0-1.
J Malone 1-0, D Tubridy 0-3f, G Brennan & E Cleary (1f) 0-2.
C Kenrick; C McDonald, A Campbell, C O’Shaughnessy; J Feehan, R Kiely, D Leahy; A Moloney, M Dunne; J Keane, P Acheson, B Fox; N O’Donovan, C Sweeney, P Austin.
J O’Callaghan for D Leahy (53), S Leahy for Feehan (b/c 60), K O’Halloran for Sweeney (62), B Hewitt for Austin (66), D Butler for O’Donovan (68).
J Hayes; C O’Dea, K Hartnett, M McMahon; J Malone, G Kelly, P Lillis; G Brennan, C O’Connor; S Collins, E Coughlan, S McGrath; K Sexton, E Cleary, D Tubridy.
D McMahon for Coughlan (h.t.), P Burke for Sexton (60), S Haugh for McGrath (60), D Nagle for Lillis (67).
P O’Sullivan (Kerry).