The Clare roar was nowhere to be heard yesterday as the relative silence of Cusack Park in the second half was eventually broken by chants of “Tipp, Tipp, Tipp”.
A third consecutive win for the 2016 All-Ireland champions saw them yet again hit the 30-point marker.
The same questions that were asked of Limerick going well too early have now shifted to Tipperary — but you sense Liam Sheedy won’t mind.
Fortress Cusack Park was ransacked here, 18,316 souls treated to the kind of bludgeoning Clare haven’t experienced on their home soil for a considerably long time.
Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor will be hoping to re-fortify the place when Cork arrive in 13 days’ time, but there’s the little matter of facing Limerick before that, and on the basis of this non-performance, they will make the short skip across the M18 with trepidation.
Tipperary’s movement and intensity was too much for them in both halves.
Although it wasn’t until the second quarter that the visitors began to put some distance between the sides, when they did Clare’s response was meek.
With a breeze billowing from the town end, Clare would have been expected to eat into Tipperary’s six-point lead at the break (1-14 to 0-11).
Instead, it was Tipperary who began the strongest, Seamus Callanan’s 41st-minute goal a result of the captain reacting quicker than the flat-footed Clare backs to a Jason Forde free hitting the post.
As Moloney admitted afterwards, the score “knocked the stuffing out of us”. Ronan Maher did that to Cathal Malone in the literal sense with a piledriving shoulder just six minutes after the goal.
Tipperary’s aggression never let up and neither did their sharpness; Noel McGrath’s point in the 32nd minute was schemed after a Clare shot went wide.
Patrick Maher’s 50th-minute goal was fashioned by him being more alert to a sideline ball, although Malone and David McInerney looked sluggish in trying to cut him out.
Donal Tuohy’s last-ditch attempt to deny him the shot was cynical and dangerous, but Maher still had the presence of mind to shorten his grip and place the ball to the far corner.
With that goal, Tipperary went 13 clear and Clare’s reply, other than placed balls, was a Jason McCarthy point. Just seven points from play and two of them in the second half was a dismal return.
In this context and considering what has happened to Waterford since that opening win, Clare’s form looks decidedly dodgy.
Tipperary, on the other hand, are only getting better, creating close to 40 scoring opportunities in difficult conditions yesterday.
Eleven scorers against Cork, nine in the home win over Waterford and seven here, the load is being shared pretty evenly. Not only that, three of them each produced six points, two of them five.
For the third game in a row, it was hardly surprising that a Tipperary forward picked up the individual award.
But some kind words for Tipperary’s defence — save for Cork’s consolation goal in Round 1, Brian Hogan’s goal-line has not been breached.
Their defence might still be coughing up too many frees but that can’t disguise how splendid Cathal Barrett and Brendan Maher have been thus far.
Yet again, Maher was given the duty of marking the playmaker in Tony Kelly and yet again he starred.
Nine times in the first half Tipperary quickly cancelled out Clare scores, and their work on the Clare restart, admittedly against the wind, was deadly. And yet Sheedy still found fault with how they hounded their opponents.
“Diarmuid Ryan was an outlet for them for certain ball and he was delivering it into John Conlon and we were struggling to defend that, but look, overall, when you weigh up the whole performance, you’re never going to have the perfect performance.”
Speaking of Conlon, he was so strangely off-colour. Four wides to his name, there would have been little gripe had he been removed from the play earlier than the hour mark.
His marker Barry Heffernan, a late replacement for the sick James Barry, had cause to believe he was part of the reason for the All Star’s disappointing showing.
Conlon wasn’t alone — Kelly was anonymous in the opening half and Clare’s midfield was subdued by Noel McGrath and Michael Breen.
McInerney may have been caught a couple of times, but such was his workload he could be forgiven.
Clare will hope for a Cork-like revival in six days’ time — John Meyler’s men showed their reverse against Tipperary didn’t entirely maim them — although Limerick have ground to make up, too.
As for the victors, Sheedy wasn’t getting ahead of himself.
“Certainly there’s no team yet guaranteed to be in the Munster final, but what I am certain of is that we’re going to come out of Munster and from where we were, I set the ambition at the start of the year that we wanted to get into the top three and qualify for the All-Ireland series.
“To have reached that on June 2 is very pleasing.”
P. Duggan (0-9, 8 frees); T. Kelly (0-3, 2 frees); P. Collins; D. Ryan, D. Fitzgerald, S. Golden, J. McCarthy (0-1 each).
J. McGrath (0-6); J. Forde (0-6, frees); S. Callanan (1-3); N. McGrath, Patrick Maher (1-2 each); J. O’Dwyer, B. Maher (0-1 each).
D. Tuohy; S. Morey, P. O’Connor (c), D. McInerney; C. Malone, J. Browne, D. Fitzgerald; S. Golden, C. Galvin; P. Duggan, T. Kelly, D. Ryan; S. O’Donnell, J. Conlon, P. Collins.
C. Cleary for S. Morey (52); A. McCarthy for P. Duggan (57); G. Cooney for J. Conlon (60); A. Shanagher for S. O’Donnell (65); R. Taylor for S. Golden (68).
B. Hogan; A. Flynn, B. Heffernan, C. Barrett; R. Maher, B. Maher, Pádraic Maher; N. McGrath, M. Breen; D. McCormack, J. O’Dwyer, Patrick Maher; J. McGrath, S. Callanan (c), J. Forde.
W. Connors for M. Breen (56); J. Morris for J.
O’Dwyer (61); R. Byrne for R. Maher (66); G. Browne for D. McCormack (69).
A. Kelly (Galway).
Derek McGrath and Ger Cunningham review the weekend's hurling with Anthony Daly