Davy Fitzgerald’s team had a seven-point lead with 40 minutes on the stopwatch, courtesy of first-half strikes by David Dempsey, Peter Duggan and Shane Bennett.
WIT dug in during the third quarter, however, and two goals in three minutes through Mark Fanning (penalty) and Austin Gleeson (free) reduced the arrears to the bare minimum.
The visitors steadied as a scrambled effort from top scorer Paul Killeen and Jason McCarthy’s cameo of 1-2 off the bench settled an entertaining contest.
The two-time champions never trailed on a bitterly cold night and boasted 10 different scorers by the finish. Clare’s Jamie Shanahan acted as an extra man in front of their full back line for the hour, with Duggan and Killeen posing an aerial threat up top.
Limerick senior Diarmuid Byrnes opened the scoring after 43 seconds, before Joe O’Dwyer equalised from long distance. On three minutes, midfielder David Reidy supplied David Dempsey and he batted to the net. WIT had five wides in the first quarter, but closed within two points via Liam McGrath and Joe O’Connor.
Reidy and Dempsey set up Duggan to shoot low to the far corner after 22 minutes, leaving it 2-3 to 0-4. WIT responded with three in a row (two McGrath dead balls and Shane McNulty from play).
On the stroke of half time, Tipperary whistler Johnny Ryan signalled a penalty after Joe O’Dwyer fouled Duggan. Shane Bennett wrong-footed Mark Fanning and buried it to the cobwebs. Further white flags by Barry O’Connell and Sean Ryan left them six to the good at the break (3-6 to 0-9).
McGrath and Killeen exchanged two frees each, before O’Connell stretched LIT’s advantage. A foul on Joe O’Connor allowed goalkeeper Fanning to dispatch a penalty on 41 minutes. Austin Gleeson belted home a close-range free two minutes later for Ray O’Brien’s side. A monster free from the 2016 hurler of the year narrowed it to just one, 3-10 to 2-12.
In an untidy goalmouth scramble, Killeen bundled the sliotar over the line with 12 minutes remaining. McCarthy added two points with Byrnes also on target, for 1-3 on the spin.
McCarthy’s late goal wrapped up the away win. For the first time since 2012, WIT suffered elimination at the group stages. Shane Murphy salvaged an injury time consolation.
P Killeen 1-4 (4fs); J McCarthy 1-2; S Bennett 1-1 (1-0 pen); D Dempsey, P Duggan 1-0 each; D Byrnes (1f), B O’Connell 0-2 each; W Ryan, S Ryan, D Reidy 0-1 each.
L McGrath 0-7 (5fs, 1 65’), A Gleeson 1-1 (1-1fs), M Fanning (1-0 pen), S Murphy 1-0 each, S McNulty, J O’Connor 0-2 each, J O’Dwyer 0-1.
E Quilligan (Clare); C Nolan (Clare), K Bennett (Waterford), C Cooney (Clare); O O’Brien (Clare), B O’Connell (Limerick), W Ryan (Tipperary); D Reidy (Clare), D Byrnes (Limerick); S Bennett (Waterford), D Dempsey (Limerick), S Ryan (Tipperary); J Shanahan (Clare), P Duggan (Clare), P Killeen (Galway).
J McCarthy (Clare) for Dempsey (48); W Connors (Tipperary) for Duggan (48); J Ryan (Tipperary) for Cooney (53); B O’Meara (Tipperary) for Bennett (58).
M Fanning (Wexford); W Hahessy (Waterford), S O’Donohue (Wexford), T Fox (Tipperary); S McNulty (Waterford), J O’Dwyer (Tipperary), J Henderson (Kilkenny); C Lyons (Waterford), C O’Brien (Cork); S Murphy (Kilkenny), L McGrath (Tipperary), A Gleeson (Waterford); J O’Connor (Offaly), A Joyce (Cork), P Walsh (Waterford).
JP Tracey (Kilkenny) for Hahessy (34); K Blanchfield (Kilkenny) for Joyce (43); C Nevin (Galway) for O’Brien (62).
J Ryan (Tipperary)