CLARE…………… 1-17 TIPPERARY……………2-10
By Michael O Connor.
Heady time indeed for supporters of Clare hurling and in particular the Under 21 grade as the third title in five seasons at provincial levels sits in Clare for another 12 months as a result of a famous title win in Semple Stadium outclassing Tipperary with a confident display of speed, skill and experience.
Expectations with the odds layers had Tipperary as slightly on odds and Clare odds against. In 2012 a Niall Arthur goal deep into the final moments secured a famous second Munster crown and more noteworthy in front of Clare supporters in Cusack Park.
For 12 months the Tipperary squad and management nursed the hurt with many of them claiming publicly that a rematch with Clare in a final was desired by the premier county. Clare announced one change from their semi final team with David O Halloran in for Daire Keane as the Tipperary forward line looked capable with Jason Forde, Niall O Meara and Liam McGrath leading the way. The first half that transpired saw 20 frees being awarded by Shane Hourigan in a game devoid of any hard tackling in the first half, as the stop start nature did little for the game as a spectacle. Over the hour 35 frees were awarded and stifled a game that could have offered more to the attendance of 8,296.
The great hope of Tipperary hurling future Jason Forde finished the game with (2-7) to his credit and he opened the proceedings with a pointed free and went on to score the first six scores for his side from placed balls. He added further scores in the 5th, 8th, 19th, 20th and 26th minute to round off the first half scoring. Cathal O Connell also hit half a dozen first half scores with Aaron Cunningham who was positioned in front of goal grabbing a fantastic second Clare point after four minutes. The most important score of the first half was a goal doubled to the net by Peter Duggan who was target from a high delivery by Alan O Neill after 13 minutes to open up a four point lead. Tony Kelly and Podge Collins rounded off the first half scoring to leave the visitors to semple stadium (1-9) to (0-6) clear.
Cathal O Connell continued his scoring exploits with Liam McGrath becoming only the second Tipperary man on the scoresheet after 5 minutes of the new half. With Clare now on top at midfield Galvin struck for a brace of points either side of McGrath first score for Tipperary from play. Try as the home side might they could not and did not have the class to break down the Clare defence. Niall O Meara, Shane O Donnell and O Connell again were on target in a three minute spell as Clare were now sailing (1-14) to (0-9) clear with twenty minutes remaining. A great piece of skill by Jason Forde resulted in a goal that narrowed the Tipperary deficit to five points entering the final quarter. This goal was negated to a large degree by a couplet of scores from Podge Collins and Aaron Cunningham in the 46th and 48th minutes to kill off the game as an event.
With ten minutes remaining Clare were in a comfort zone of a six point lead after Jason Forde converted a 65. The game was nearly put beyond the reach of the Tipperary men when Cathal O Connells effort ended on the goal line with Davy O Halloran unable to poke it over the white line. He was called ashore soon after. Tony Kelly pointed from play as Jamie Shanahan and Cathal Malone entered the fray. Tipperary emptied their bench to no avail but it must commented on that their replacements did add some threat in front of the Clare goal forcing two goals in the last quarter. The final score of the game went to a Jason Forde penalty as he hit the net with a powerful effort with Seadna Morey sent off for two bookable offences.
It has been an era never to be forgotten for the winners who in three short years have won two Munster minor, two under 21 titles and one all Ireland title with an All Ireland semi final against a Galway side who are coming in under the radar with what will be the best side to face Clare this year.
Their best performers were Ronan Taaffe, David McInerney who excelled at full back especially in the last fifteen minutes when Tipperary went goal hunting and Jack Browne in the full back line. Alan O Neill held the centre well as Colm Galvin was supreme throughout with Tony Kelly coming into the game in the second half. Up front the Clare forwards were businesslike but unspectacular with wastefulness a tad too regular as Podge Collins, Cathal O Connell, Aaron Cunningham and Peter Duggan early on to the fore.
Tipperary had no complaints, not scoring from play until the 39th minute and only really kicking into life in the last 15 minutes. Their best were Michael Breen, Jason Forde, Andrew Ryan, Niall O Meara late on, Joe O Dwyer and Seamus Kennedy and Colm Riordan when introduced.
CLARE: Ronan Taaffe, Paul Flanagan, David McInerney, Jack Browne, Seadna Morey, Alan O Neill, Stephen O Halloran, Colm Galvin (0-2), Tony Kelly (0-2), Peter Duggan (1-0), Podge Collins (0-1), Aaron Cunningham (0-2), Shane O Donnell (0-1), David O Halloran, Cathal O Connell (0-8). Subs: Jamie Shanahan for O Halloran, Cathal Malone for Duggan, Niall Arthur for Cunningham
TIPPERARY: Darragh Mooney, Cathal Barrett, Michael Breen, Andrew Ryan, Joe O Dwyer, Tomas Hamill, Seamus Kennedy, Justin Cahill, Brian Stapleton, Tommy Heffernan, Jason Forde (2-7), Niall O Meara (0-1), Aidan McCormack, Bill Walsh, Liam McGrath (0-2). Subs: John McGrath for Heffernan, Conor O Riordan for Cahill, Tadgh Gallagher for Walsh, John Meagher for Stapleton, Michael O Brien for McCormack.
REFEREE; Shane Hourigan (Limerick)
After the game Munster council chairman Robert Frost presented the Under 21 cup to Clare captain Paul Flanagan who became the first Clare man to lift Minor and Under 21 provincial crowns.
Cathal O'Connell slots another point
Tony Kelly under pressure