By Michael O Connor.
Clare won the Waterford Crystal Cup for the second time in their history on Saturday night, with a comfortable win over Tipperary. An attendance of 1,710 spectators were present in Semple Stadium in a repeat of the 2012 final.
Clare and Tipperary used the final to expose a number of new players to big time hurling with the opening round of NHL coming up on February 24th. The loss of Nicky O Connell just before the throw in might last year have upset the plans but it would appear at this early stage that the panel available to Clare manager David Fitzgerald is strong and was able to cover the absence of a key player. Tipperary for their part are way behind Clare in preparation and have many more to bring onto the team, maybe more than Clare, if one was truthful but that is for another day when the sun will be beaming from the sky. Saying that the exchanges at time were fierce showing that Tipperary were far from content to allow Clare a free run in their home patch
Colin Ryan hit 0-9 from placed balls for the victors, while Tony Kelly was outstanding for Davy Fitzgerald's side, hitting 0-5 from play. Tipperary struck for a goal in the first-half through Patrick Maher, but Clare were the better side for most of the opening period and deservedly led 0-14 to 1-8 at the break. The home side were quickest out of the blocks with a brace of early scores from Noel McGrath and Shane Bourke after two minutes before Tony Kelly and Fergal Lynch levelled matters by the 6th minute. Seadna Morey and Brian O Meara exchanged scores before Morey with a second score in a minute sent Clare into a short lived lead in the 11thminute. The Kelly, Eoin and Tony were on target before Patrick Bonner Maher goaled for the Premier men and when Shane Bourke had his second and final score of the game Tipperary had opened up a fast (1-5) to (0-5) lead by the end of the first quarter.
When one thought that the home side might go on and take the game more to the visitors they went into themselves as Clare’s running game and superior fitness at this stage took centre stage. In the second quarter Clare outscored Tipperary (0-9) to (0-3) in a seventeen minutes spell. Colin Ryan (0-6) was scorer in chief as Enda Barrett, Alan O Neill and Tony Kelly now at midfield with Morey. Tipperary responses came from Eoin Kelly (3) to leave Clare (0-14) to (1-8) and looking assured winners at the interval bar a calamity in their rearguard which appeared unlikely. The brilliance of David McInerney was the highlight of this game as many others have been lauded before so one hopes a new star joins the cast for the battles ahead. John O Brien replaced Brian O Meara at this juncture. Both sides hit a brace of points by the 42nd minute as Shane O Donnell, Colin Ryan, Seamus Callinan and Eoin Kelly were the sharpshooters. A hat trick of points in quick succession from Ryan, Lynch and Kelly stretched Clare ahead and when Shane O Donnell hit the net following Seadna Morey’s initial effort was blocked the game and title was annexed by the banner as they were now (1-19) to (1-11) ahead with 14 minutes to enact.
Both sides began to bring on replacements and there was definitely no way back for Tipperary, whose evening was made worse by the dismissal of Conor O'Brien who got entangled with Clare sub Peter Duggan. Eoin Kelly and Seamus Callinan rounded off the Tipperary scoring as Colin Ryan and midfield pacesetter Tony Kelly had the last two scores for the winners to allow newly elected Munster council chairman Robert Frost from O Callaghans Mills to present the Waterford Crystal cup to fellow Mills man and Clare captain Patrick Donnellan.
Best for the winners who take on Waterford in the NHL in Ennis on February 24th were Domhnall O Donovan, David McInerney, Brendan Bugler, Tony Kelly, Seadna Morey, Fergal Lynch, Shane O Donnell and Alan O Neill. Tipperary will improve drastically from this with honest efforts from Eoin Kelly, Donagh Maher, Brendan Maher, Shane Bourke and Seamus Callinan early on to the fore for Eamonn O Shea’s side.
CLARE: Patrick Kelly (Inagh/Kilnamona), Domhnall O Donovan (Clonlara), James McInerney (Newmarket On Fergus), David McInerney (Tulla), Brendan Bugler (Whitegate), Pat Donnellan (O Callaghans Mills), Patrick O Connor (Tubber), Colin Ryan (Newmarket On Fergus)(0-9), Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge)(0-2), Fergal Lynch (Clooney/Quin)(0-2), Tony Kelly (Ballyea)(0-5), Enda Barrett (Newmarket On Fergus)(0-1), Padraic Collins (Cratloe), Alan O Neill (St Josephs)(0-1), Shane O Donnell (Eire-og)(1-1). Subs: Darach Honan (Clonlara) for O Neill, Liam Markham (Cratloe) for Barrett, David O Halloran (Eire-og) for O Donnell, Jonathan Clancy (Clarecastle) for Collins, Peter Duggan (Clooney/Quin) for Lynch.
TIPPERARY: Brendan Cummins (Ballybacon-Grange), Conor O’Brien (Éire Óg Annacarty), Paul Curran (Mullinahone), Donagh Maher (Burgess), Joey McLoughney (Toomevara), Brendan Maher (Borris–Ileigh), Seamus Hennessy (Kilruane MacDonaghs), Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch), Noel McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney), Jason Forde (Silvermines), Eoin Kelly (Mullinahone)(0-6), Patrick Maher (Lorrha & Dorrha)(1-0), Brian O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonaghs)(0-1), Shane Bourke (JK Brackens)(0-2), Seamus Callanan (Drom & Inch)(0-2). Subs: John O Brien (Toomevara)(0-1) for O Meara, John O Brien for Curran, James Woodlock (Drom and Inch) for Stapleton, John Ryan (Drom and Inch) for McLoughney,