*Clare captain Eoin Gunning in action. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Clare’s minor hurlers got their championship campaign off to an impressive start overcoming rivals Tipperary.
Venue: Wolfe Tones GAA Grounds, Shannon
In a repeat of last year’s Munster final, there was plenty of anticipation but less drama and of course no penalty shootout as a seven point victory was the least Clare deserved as they overturned the 2022 result.
Close to the eleventh hour, Shannon was selected as the venue for proceedings and with it came a limited capacity of 1,000. Demand was high and tickets sold out well in advance of the 7pm start.
Spectators who braved the elements would leave Shannon pleased with the showing of the young Banner side whose workrate from start to finish was their most impressive trait throughout a contest which they led for all but four minutes.
Michael Collins’ opening half goal where he soloed up to fifty yards with the sliotar glued to his hurley leaving three Tipperary players trailing in his wake before producing a deft flick to the net was another talking point for those leaving the grounds.
Several examples highlight how well Clare played as a team, passing the ball to the man in the better occasion but none more so than Eoin Carey’s outstanding white flag on thirty one minutes. The Cratloe corner back first caught a dropping Tipperary sideline cut on his goal-line, calmly emerged with the ball and found Sean Arthur in space, Carey made an excellent run to make himself available for the ball as Arthur carried forward, broke the tackle and selflessly offloaded to Carey who pointed from 65m close to the Clare sideline.
Not alone did it showcase how Clare played as a team but the underlying honesty that was pulsing from their display with Carey not content at stopping a score at one end but instead determined to finish off the move he started with a score of his own.
Michael Power who produced a lively showing over the hour was first to register and pointed after combining with his clubmate Arthur on two minutes. Tipperary responded with the next three efforts before Arthur, Mark O’Brien and Power pointed to swing the momentum back in Clare’s favour.
Collins then stepped up with his glorius goal before further white flags via Fred Hegarty, Collins and O’Brien extended the gap to eight points on twenty one minutes. By half-time, the margin would remain the same with Tipperary hopeful of producing a comeback with the aid of the elements on the restart.
Such hopes were quickly dampened when Clare hit the first three points without reply, O’Brien, Power and Collins sending the umpires reaching for the white flag.
Mark Sheedy who was solid between the posts all of last season, kept his reputation intact when stopping a Robert Ryan effort on forty one minutes. Ryan and the impressive Sam Rowan added scores to cut the gap back to eight.
Then another well-worked Clare move ended up in the back of Harry Loughnane’s net. Sean Arthur saw his clubmate Michael Power in space, the corner forward controlled the ball first time, expertly took his man on and then popped to full-forward Mark O’Brien who clinically pulled the trigger to effectively end the contest on forty nine minutes.
Substitute Evan Price would tap over another point for Clare, their last of the evening while Tipperary which will become important for score difference as the championship progresses hit 0-05 in the final ten minutes.
Brian O’Connell’s side certainly started on a high, they defended well, worked hard and for the most part used the ball well. Their tally of thirteen wides being the biggest blot on their copy book from this outing. Ideally conditions won’t be as difficult when they make the short trip to the Gaelic Grounds to face off with Limerick on Tuesday week.
Once again Clare can be optimistic to have witnessed a full-back line at underage level with bundles of potential, the trio of Eoin Gunning, Ronan Keane and Eoin Carey demonstrated so well that this is the first line of attack and also snuffed out any danger with their custodian Mark Sheedy solid again. Michael Collins, Ronan Kilroy plus the Newmarket-on-Fergus duo of Michael Power and Sean Arthur were others to catch the eye.
Tús maith, leath na hOibre.
Scorers Clare: M O’Brien (1-04 3f 1’65), M Collins (1-02), M Power (0-04), F Hegarty (0-02 1f), S Arthur (0-01), E Carey (0-01), E Price (0-01).
Scorers Tipperary: R Ryan (0-05 4f 1’65), S Rowan (0-05), S Buckley (0-02 1f), J Ormonde (0-01), L Loughnane (0-01)
1: Mark Sheedy (Sixmilebridge)
2: Eoin Gunning (Broadford)
3: Ronan Keane (Killanena)
4: Eoin Carey (Cratloe)
7: Jamie Moylan (Cratloe)
6: Mark O’Connor (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield)
5: Matthew O’Halloran (Sixmilebridge)
8: Óige Fanning (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield)
9: Ronan Kilroy (Banner)
12: Sean Arthur (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
11: Fred Hegarty (Inagh/Kilnamona)
10: Michael Collins (Clonlara)
15: Michael Power (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
14: Mark O’Brien (Cratloe)
13: Jack Mescall (Inagh/Kilnamona)
20: Harry Doherty (Clarecastle) for Fanning (51)
17: Evan Price (Clarecastle) for Keane (54) (inj)
22: Eoin Begley (Clonlara) for Mescall (57)
18: Robert Loftus (Éire Óg) for Gunning (62) (inj)
1: Harry Loughnane (Roscrea)
4: Ciaran Byrnes (Golden-Killeacle)
3: Evan Morris (Holycross-Ballycahill)
2: Sean Nash (St Patrick’s)
7: Darragh Linnane (CJ Kickhams Mullinahone)
6: Oisin O’Donoghue (Cashel King Cormacs)
5: Cian Ryan (Moneygall)
8: Keith Loughnane (Durlas Óg)
9: Shane Buckley (Knockavilla Donaskeigh Kickhams)
12: Jamie Ormond (JK Brackens)
11: Sam Rowan (CJ Kickhams Mullinahone)
10: David Costigan (Moycarkey Borris)
13: Jack Hayes (Moycarkey Borris)
14: Robbie Ryan (Holycross-Ballycahill)
15: Aidan Ryan (Arravale Rovers)
17: Toby Corbett (Upperchurch-Drombane) for Nash (39)
24: Stefan Tobin (Carrick Swan) for Ryan (39)
21: Colm Kennedy (Sean Treacys) for Hayes (47)
22: Leigh Loughnane (Roscrea) for A Ryan (58)
20: Jake Houlihan (Nenagh Éire Óg) for R Ryan (59)
Referee: David Deady (Limerick)