Clare kicked off their Electric Ireland Munster Hurling Minor Championship campaign with a comprehensive seven-point victory over 2022 All-Ireland champions Tipperary in dreadful conditions on Tuesday night.
A sell-out crowd flocked to a soaked Wolfe Tones Shannon GAA for this fixture. From sunrise on the rain poured and even still an hour before throw-in the carpark was full. Both teams deserve immense credit for toiling in a brutal downpour that only worsened as the night wore on. In a real test of skills there were several A+ grades.
Despite playing with the strong wind, Brian O’Connell’s side started slowly and shot seven wides from nine shots in the opening ten minutes.
It took an outstanding individual Michael Collins goal after Jamie Moylan had won a Tipperary long puckout for them to consolidate their advantage. The Clonlara man picked up the ball near the halfway line and carried it all the way to the edge of the square, finishing with a flourish and a flick. From that point on they did not let up.
Frees from Shane Buckley and Robbie Ryan got Tipperary off the mark but by half-time they were eight points down. James Woodlock’s outfit emerging knowing they would need a goal to make a contest of it and came close twice, Mark Sheedy recovering well after a spill and Ryan being denied from a close-range placed ball.
The decisive moment of the second half hour came on the 50th minute mark when Michael Power won a ball out in front and stormed for goal before unselfishly laying across to Mark O’Brien who tapped in to make the margin 11 points.
Even as the turf began to deteriorate Tipperary refused to give up the chase coming down the home straight. Rather than forcing a goal opportunity, they elected to plug away and take opportunities that were afforded from range.
Sam Rowan was immense and hit three points in the final 15 minutes including a sensational effort from the sideline. Leigh Loughnane came off the bench to score while Ryan continued to convert placed balls.
Next Tuesday Clare travel to the Gaelic Grounds to take on Limerick while Tipperary have a bye before their trip to Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh on April 4.
Mark O’Brien 1-4 (4 free), Michael Collins 1-2, Michael Power 0-3, Fred Hegarty 0-2 (1 free), Sean Arthur 0-1, Jack Mescall 0-1, Eoin Carey 0-1, Evan Price 0-1.
Robbie Ryan 0-6 (5 free, 1 65), Sam Rowan 0-4, Shane Buckley 0-2 (1 free), Jamie Ormond 0-1, Leigh Loughnane 0-1.
M Sheedy (Sixmilebridge); E Gunning (Broadford), R Keane (Killanena), E Carey (Cratloe); M O’Halloran (Sixmilebridge), M O’Connor (Doora Barefield), J Moylan (Cratloe); O Fanning (Doora Barefield), R Kilroy (The Banner); M Collins (Clonlara), F Hegarty (Inagh Kilamona), S Arthur (Newmarket on Fergus); J Mescall (Inagh-Kilnamona), M O’Brien (Cratloe), M Power (Newmarket on Fergus)
H Doherty for Fanning (52), E Price for Keane (55), E Begley for Mescall (57)
H Loughnane (Roscrea); S Nash (St. Patricks), E Morris (Holycross-Ballycahill), C Byrne (Golden-Kilfeacle); C Ryan (Moneygall), O O’Donoghue (Cashel King Cormacs), D Linnane (CJ Kickhams Mullinahone); K Loughnane (Durlas Og), S Buckley (Knockavilla Donaskeigh Kickhams); D Costigan (Moycarkey-Borris), Sam Rowan (Cj Kickhams Mullinahone), J Ormond (JK Brackens); J Hayes (Moycarkey-Borris), R Ryan (Holycross-Ballycahill), A Ryan (Arravale Rovers)
T Corbett for Nash (40), S Tobin for C Ryan (42), C Kennedy for Hayes (46), L Loughnane for A Ryan (57), J Houlihan for R Ryan (60)
D Deady (Limerick)