Tipperary 1-21 Clare 1-23
Munster hurling delivers again, as Clare presented their supporters with a championship performance they had been awaiting five years.
Sure, there had been glimpses of excellence last year and the win over Waterford in Ennis last month was comprehensive, but here they virtually rolled back the years, not just to 2013, but 10 years before that, when they last beat Tipperary in this competition and 90 years to the previous occasion they defeated the home side in championship on this soil.
How they did it was in keeping with the drama of this provincial gauntlet, which ultimately caught up with Michael Ryan’s side.
An Ian Galvin goal in the 65th minute came just 18 seconds after Jake Morris had smacked the butt of the post at the Town End, when John McGrath and Cathal Barrett had set up the teenage substitute.
A goal for Tipperary then and the game would have been transformed.
Instead, Clare’s green flag brought them to within a point, although the psychological impact of the score was negated somewhat by a lengthy stoppage to treat an injury to Brendan Maher who was then replaced. When play resumed, Tipperary rallied, with Seamus Callanan pointing, although a goal was on, and Jason Forde punishing a David McInerney over-carry.
However, Clare were again breathing down their opponents’ necks, with Peter Duggan’s 13th free, Seán O’Brien pulling Shane O’Donnell off the ball, following a superb John Conlon score from close to the Ó Riain Stand sideline.
Yet, Tipperary responded again, with Noel McGrath, in the third minute of additional time, feasting on a breakdown from Brian Hogan’s puck-out and splitting the posts.
Podge Collins, looking like his 2013 self after coming on just before half-time, picked off his third point to level it once more.
It was Duggan who then made the game his own, his two stunning scores from the right wing prompting the Banner Roar around the hallowed stadium.
Many will believe a stumbling Tipperary were put out of their misery by Clare and, while the vanquished resembled Wexford, who themselves were playing a fourth game in as many weekends the evening before, they had led from the fifth to the second minute of additional time in the second half and again a minute later.
As John Conlon said afterwards: “Tipp died on the field, there.”
As Ryan acknowledged: “That was our best performance out of four, albeit we didn’t get anything out of it.”
The fine margins of this new competition schedule showed up the frailties in Tipperary’s make-up, which may have manifested themselves later in the Championship.
Forde was inconsolable afterwards as he rued a missed free, his only one of the game, in the last minute of additional time, but he is one of a few Tipperary players who can personally consider their 2018 season a good one.
With an All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final at the least to look forward to, the summer now opens up for Clare and they will take so much from this, having stared at an eight-point deficit in the 26th minute.
“Credit to Tipperary, four weeks in a row and the way they started the game it was like they were in an All-Ireland final,” recalled Donal Moloney.
“They were going like a train and we were hanging onto their coat-tails for much of that first quarter and we couldn’t seem to do anything right. We seemed to be off the pace and Tipp were so much sharper than us.
Tipperary’s goal, 13 minutes in, was the result of Patrick Maher and Billy McCarthy combining, McCarthy firing home, despite having been fouled by McInerney. It was the start Tipperary, so sluggish in their previous three outings, were looking for, and McCarthy’s switch to the half-forward line was paying off.
Clare’s shooting also lacked composure and by the break they had eight wides with Tony Kelly contributing three of them. At the same time, they had finished out the half with four points on the bounce to bring them to within four, 1-10 to 0-9, as Tipperary’s indiscipline raised its ugly head and would ultimately prove to be one of the reasons for their demise.
With Podge Collins providing a rousing half-time speech, there was no sense they were in difficulty. Moloney said: “We were communicating, the players were communicating, ‘let’s keep steadying the ship, we’ll get a point back’. The guys showed great resilience.”
Collins, who had been introduced for Conor McGrath just before the interval, was a catalyst, as was Conlon, who by the 59th minute had seen his two markers Seamus Kennedy and Pádraic Maher pick up yellow cards for fouls on him.
Even if Callanan wasn’t at his sharpest in general, his 60th-minute point was a score of sublime deftness as the ball followed his will without touching his hand. It sent Tipperary five points clear, but then came another Duggan free and after that the Galvin goal, a swinging moment that may not have decided the game but certainly defined it in Clare’s favour.
As Conlon said: “Maybe that bit of bite and bit of devilment we had in 2013 is coming back.”
It will have to be present if they are to beat Limerick and possibly steal a Munster final spot from them in Ennis on Sunday, but after yesterday, almost anything will feel possible for Clare.
Scorers for Tipperary: J. Forde (0-10, 8 frees, 1 65); B. McCarthy (1-0), J. McGrath (0-3); S. Callanan, N. McGrath (0-2 each); R. Maher, C. Barrett, Pádraic Maher, Patrick Maher (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clare: P. Duggan (0-15, 13 frees); I. Galvin (1-0); P. Collins (0-3); T. Kelly, J. Conlon (0-2 each); J. Browne (0-1 each).
TIPPERARY: B. Hogan; D. Maher, S. Kennedy, S. O’Brien; J. O’Dwyer, Pádraic Maher (c), B. Maher; R. Maher, C. Barrett; D. McCormack, Patrick Maher, B. McCarthy; J. McGrath, J. Forde, S. Callanan.
Subs for Tipperary: N. McGrath for D. McCormack (inj 10); J. Morris for Patrick Maher, A. Flynn for Joe O’Dwyer (both 60); W. Connors for B. Maher (inj 68); John O’Dwyer for J. McGrath (70+4).
CLARE: D. Tuohy; P. O’Connor (c), D. McInerney, J. Browne; D. Fitzgerald, C. Cleary, J. Shanahan; C. Galvin, C. Malone; D. Reidy, T. Kelly, P. Duggan; C. McGrath, J. Conlon, S. O’Donnell.
Subs for Clare: P. Collins for C. McGrath (35+3); S. Morey for D. Fitzgerald (47); I. Galvin for D. Reidy (60); J. McCarthy for C. Malone (62); D. Corry for C. Galvin (64).
Referee: P. O’Dwyer (Carlow).
From Ian Galvin’s goal to Podge Collins’ effectiveness to Peter Duggan’s magical touch, there were a host of influences on this game but Duggan’s class at the end was what made the difference.
The composure of Duggan to take his two points, his first points from play, to claim this victory for Clare. “Peter is a great fighter with an incredible skill level,” said co-manager Donal Moloney.
“There are very few lads who would probably pull off that last point under such pressure. There are very few lads who would even think about going for it.”
Clare supporters have been waiting for a display like this for five years. Sure, the win over Waterford was healthy but then the injuries sustained by the Déise were mitigating factors. Here, they showed they have substance, becoming the only team to win away from home so far in the Munster SHC.
Many will believe Tipperary were only waiting to be put out of their misery but this last sting of theirs was effective up until the last two minutes of second-half additional time. Michael Ryan deserves time to consider his options but there will be calls for a new voice even though he only agreed a new three-year deal last September.
Dan McCormack made an early exit after a clash with Tony Kelly and Brendan Maher was helped off although his injury is not believed to be serious. Clare should have most if not all their men to call on for the game against Limerick.
It was a conventional game in terms of shape although Clare at the death were able to exploit the gap behind Tipperary’s half-back line. Tipperary didn’t get enough from the high ball they were landing on their full-forwards.
BEST ON SHOW
Peter Duggan gave a coming-of-age performance and Podge Collins’ influence was significant in the second half.
Tipperary’s strength in midfield was highlighted by both Clare midfielders being replaced.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
There would appear to be questions about Paud O’Dwyer blowing his whistle before Billy McCarthy struck his goal but the referee did signal for advantage.
There were some inconsistencies in terms of charging but he was sharp on over-carrying and illegal hand-passes.
Clare face Limerick in what is effectively a provincial semi-final in Ennis this Sunday. Tipperary have seven months to lick their wounds.
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