By Michael O Connor.
Title gone but no real honour lost in defeat. Little of this side at the start of 2012. The real game for Clare for a long summer hurling was the Munster semi final and success in same. This success was achieved and a place in the All Ireland quarter finals was achieved.
The three in a row dream that no one would have even jokingly visualised at the start of 2010 was pre-match a strong reality. Tipperary in the eyes of all the pundits and hurling followers were cast iron for the title against a Clareside that endured two extra time periods versus Waterford and Limerick as well as a confident display against Cork. Tipperary gave the customary beating toKerry but what set the sirens blowing was the demolition of Waterford in thesemi final. Tipperary were also winners of the All Ireland under 16 in 2010.
Support for the team was limited as a result of the constant travelling over the past fortnight by the hurling and football supporters to Ennis, Miltown, Thurles, Limerick with more to come for the under 21 hurlers, intermediate hurlers and senior footballers
Clare were beaten in the wides tally over the hour 10 -7 by the premier starlets but a number of the Clare wides came at the worst time possible as the banner men were trying to drag themselves into contention inthe first half. Bobby Duggan was first off the mark from a free before Shane ODonnell had Clare in dreamland with a mazy run and goal after a pass from JamieShanahan. Clare were four points ahead before Barry Heffernan hit Tipperary’s opening point. Clare managed just one of the intervening six scores as Tipperary sneaked (0-6) to (1-2) ahead at the end of the opening quarter. Stephen Cahill (2) and midfielder John McGrath (3) who was given the freedom of Pairc Ui Chaoimh were the targetmen. ShaneO Donnell was the sole Clare scorer in this spell. Clare were in difficulty at midfield and at centre forward with calls for Jamie Shanahan to be moved outfield growing by the minute.
A number of nervous Clare clearances fell to Tipperary asS tephen Cahill, Mark McCarthy(2) and John McGrath benefitted from as the favourites raced (0-10) to (1-2) clear after 27 minutes. Disaster for Clare and delight for Tipperary with the game’s most crucial score when a crossfielddelivery from Mark McCarthy fell to Stephen Cahill and he blasted past Eibhear Quilligan to leave Clare floundering (1-10) to (1-2) with six minutes remaining in the first half. Tipperary took their foot of the gas as Clare rallied admirably with two scores from Bobby Duggan who got his freetaking right as Clare went in (1-10) to (1-4) behind at the break and perhaps glad it was not 10 points yet disappointed that a number of key men were underperforming.
Tough talking was the order of the day and calculated switches that would be successful were needed if Clare were to remain in contention late in the second half. Niall Deasy who had been ineffective at number 11 was now at the edge of the Tipperary square and he blossomed. He scored two of the first three scores of the new half either side of a Tadgh Gallagher effort. Jamie Shanahan, Bobby Duggan, Steven O Brien, Bobby Duggan and Niall Deasy once again struck points for both sides as now a game of substance was in play with Tipperary (1-12) to (1-10) ahead 12 minutes into the new half.
Clare needed at least two goals to win this tie but chanceswere not coming easily if at all. John McGrath with a point from a penalty conceded by Shane O Brien who brought down Bill Maher stretched Tipperary three clear. No matter how much Clare did Tipperary possessed that little extra and forced Clare into errors. Jamie Shanahan, Mark McCarthy and Niall Deasy with his fourth score of the second half left hope for Clare who were just two inarrears in the 57th minute.
Tipperary however had other ideas and as the Clare subs were unable to make an impact on a team that appeared tired the winners pressed homethe advantage and fortunately for Clare they hit four wides but still managed two late McGrath frees to seal a deserved four point win and the crown.
The new Munster champions were served well by Paul Maher who had little real to deal with from the Clare forwards. Ronan Maher, Thomas Hamill, John McGrath, Mark McCarthy, Stephen Cahill and Bill Maher did well outfield for Tipperary. Clare’s star players underperformed so hope exists of a better display in the quarter final. Their best included Niall Deasy in the second half, Conor Cleary who Tipperary avoided playing and exploiting the Clare half backs, Brian Carey, Bobby Duggan in the second half and Shane ODonnell who promised a lot but got tied up, yet looked Clare’s only real attacking prospect.
TIPPERARY: Paul Maher, Jack Peters, Michael Breen, RonanMaher, Dylan FItzelle, Thomas Hamill, Barry Heffernan(0-1), Bill Maher, John McGrath (0-7), Tadgh Gallagher, Jack Shelly,Steven O Brien (0-1), Sean Ryan, Mark McCarthy (0-3), Stephen Cahill (1-3). Subs:Tom Fox for Heffernan, Kevin Slattery for Ryan, Conor Lanigan for Fitzelle
CLARE: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle), Shane O Brien(Clonlara)Capt), Brian Carey (Sixmilebridge), Gearoid Ryan (Clarecastle), AidanMcGuane (Kilmaley), Conor Cleary (Kilmaley), Eoin Quirke(Whitegate), DavidConroy (St Josephs), Alex Morey (Sixmilebridge), Shane Taylor (Broadford),Niall Deasy (Ballyea) (0-4),Shane O Donnell (Eire-og) (1-1), Bobby Duggan (Clarecastle)(0-5), Jamie Shanahan (Sixmilebridge)(0-2), Conor Deasy (Sixmilebridge). Subs:Aidan O Gorman for Morey, Jamie Malone for C Deasy, Stephen Ward for Conroy,
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)
After the game the vice chairman of the munster councilpresented the munster minor cup to Tipperary captain Bill Maher.