Not since 1955 have Tipperary won both Munster minor titles in the same year, but yesterday’s hurling win over Clare at Páirc Uí Chaoimh completed a double following the football victory against Kerry.
The achievement is made all the more impressive by the fact there are 10 players on both panels, with five dual players starting yesterday. For manager William Maher, it was a case of managing time effectively to ensure the optimum outcome.
“These fellas are fantastic,” he said afterwards.
“There are a lot who are hurlers and footballers so we’ve had to manage them very closely for the last while. They’ve won both now, so it’s a case of onwards and upwards for the All-Ireland series.”
Many pre-match predictions had cast Tipp as easy winners by virtue of a good semi-final win over Waterford, who had only seen off Clare by a point in the first round. Though they had an eight-point lead coming up to half-time, after Stephen Cahill’s goal made it 1-10 to 1-2, Clare came back strongly in the second half, but this was not a surprise for Maher.
“Clare are a very good team, I think the semi-final scores were a little bit unrealistic. It’s the first Munster title we’ve won in five years, so we’re thrilled.”
After an early Bobby Duggan free was followed by Shane O’Donnell’s goal, Clare led 1-1 to 0-0, but they would score just once more before first-half injury time as Tipp settled and took over.
John McGrath and Bill Maher at midfield dictated matters, McGrath hitting four fine points, as Clare’s sloppiness was punished, and inside, Cahill was on song too, finishing well on 29 minutes after Jack Shelly cushioned a Mark McCarthy delivery into his path.
Two Duggan frees gave Clare an avenue back into contention as they trailed 1-10 to 1-4 at half-time. They scored six of the second period’s first eight points, three from Niall Deasy and two by Duggan, to trail by just 1-12 to 1-10 after 42 minutes.
Tipp looked to have weathered the storm when Maher won a penalty, but McGrath blasted his shot over and Clare continued to stick in there, Deasy and Jamie Shanhan both impressing.
Deasy’s fourth point of his immense second-half contribution had it at 1-14 to 1-12 with three minutes remaining, but Tipp would not be denied, McGrath sending over two late frees to bring his tally to seven and give Tipp a first win since 2007.
Scorers for Tipperary: J McGrath 0-7 (0-2f, 0-1 penalty), S Cahill 1-3, M McCarthy 0-3 (0-2f), S O’Brien, B Heffernan, T Gallagher 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: B Duggan 0-5 (0-3f), S O’Donnell 1-1, N Deasy 0-4, J Shanahan 0-2 (0-1f).
TIPPERARY: P Maher; J Peters, M Breen, R Maher; D Fitzelle, T Hamill, B Heffernan; J McGrath, B Maher; T Gallagher, J Shelly, S O’Brien; S Ryan, M McCarthy, S Cahill.
Subs: T Fox for Heffernan (38), K Slattery for Ryan (43), Kirwan for Fitzelle (47).
CLARE: E Quilligan; S O’Brien, B Carey, G Ryan; A McGuane, C Cleary, E Quirke; D Conroy, A Morey; S O’Donnell, N Deasy, S Taylor; B Duggan, J Shanahan, C Deasy.
Subs: A O’Gorman for Morey (23, injured), J Malone for C Deasy (36), S Ward for Conroy (48).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).
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