Tipperary 0-16 Clare 2-9: Brendan Martin shattered Clare’s dreams of a first Electric Ireland Munster Minor football final appearance in 21 years at Semple Stadium last night.
Visitors Clare were two points clear before Tipp hit three without reply in the 59th, 60th and 61st minutes in Thurles, to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Tommy Nolan kickstarted the revival, Jack Kennedy equalised and man-of-the-match Martin had the final say with a spectacular winner.
Captain Keelan Sexton was one of many Clare players in tears at full-time and Tipp boss Charlie McGeever admitted that his charges were below par.
In front of 812 spectators, Tipp were rocked by goals in either half, scored by Cormac Murray and Sexton.
Both were avoidable concessions, with Murray’s from a turnover, and despite hitting 16 scores to Clare’s eleven, Tipp still needed that late surge to squeeze into a provincial decider with Kerry on July 5. That will be Tipp’s fourth final in this grade in five seasons and from McGeever’s viewpoint, there is plenty to work on.
He reflected: “The goals rocked us but we showed character to come from behind in the last five minutes.
“While there was less than three points in it, we still had a chance but we have so much work to do ahead of the Munster final.
“We didn’t play well this evening and Clare gave it absolutely everything.”
Tipp were stunned by Murray’s excellent solo effort midway through the first half and after Martin equalised, wind-assisted Clare hit three points without reply to gain control.
But Tipp hit back with three of their own before half-time and at the interval, the sides were level at 0-6 to 1-3.
Less than two minutes after the restart, Clare were on the front foot when impressive sub Conor Lynch set up senior panellist Sexton for an excellent goal at the Town End. And when Lynch popped over a point, Clare were 2-4 to 0-7 clear, the first of three times in the second half when they would lead by as many points. A pair of excellent Sean Malone scores in the 40th and 41st minutes had Clare 2-7 to 0-10 clear and still dreaming of that first Munster final since way back in 1994.
Brian McGrath hit back with a point for Tipp before Martin was denied by Killian Roche’s brilliant save, before the Kilsheelan-Kilcash man Martin’s fisted point cut the gap to one, Sexton replied in a tit-for-tat period before Kennedy and Sexton traded frees.
That left Tipp trailing by two heading into the final minute of normal time – but they found late answers to not only seal a Munster final place, but also a route to the All-Ireland series.
Scorers for Tipperary:
B Martin & J Kennedy (3f) 0-5 each, S Power, S Quirke, E Moloney, T Nolan, B McGrath & R Peters 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare:
K Sexton 1-3 (0-1f), C Murray 1-1, S Malone 0-2, D Bohannon, C Brennan & C Lynch 0-1 each.
C Manton; T Lowry, M Irwin, S Power; M Kehoe, D Owens, J Skehan; T Nolan, B Mcgrath; E Moloney, J Kennedy, R Peters; B Martin, S Quirke, J Delahunty.
J Bergin for Delahunty (h.t.), L Fahy for Skehan (37), J Moloney for E Moloney (46), T Fitzgerald for Kehoe (53).
K Roche; C O’Halloran, K Killeen, C Pyne; L Devitt, P Lillis, C Hehir; D Bohannon, C Downes; A Sweeney, K Sexton, N McCarthy; C Murray, C Brennan, S Malone.
N Murray for Pyne (h.t.), C Lynch for Sweeney (h.t.), J Lehane for Hehir (50), J Morrissey for Murray (58).
K Murphy (Cork)
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