*Patrick O’Connor under pressure from Seamus Callanan. Photograph: Gary Collins
Tipperary have beaten Clare in the Munster SHC at Cusack Park for the first time since 1912 as they comprehensively dispatched of the Banner on Sunday.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
In only the fourth Munster senior meeting between the sides at Cusack Park, Liam Sheedy’s Tipp dished out the biggest championship defeat during Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor’s period as joint managers of the senior side.
Sunday’s loss is also Clare’s heaviest provincial championship defeat since 2011, managed then by Clarecastle’s Ger ‘Sparrow’ O’Loughlin when Tipperary again put them to sword, nine points was the margin on that occasion. It is also the last tie in which they conceded more than two goals in a Munster campaign.
Defeat is never easy to stomach but it is the manner of which and how the Premier County dictated matters for the bulk of the contest makes it more difficult to digest for Clare. Noel McGrath’s goal on twenty minutes put some distance between the sides, they then added five of the next seven scores building up a half-time advantage of six points.
Discussions at the break were positive with several Clare supporters confident the deficit could be bridged. More forensic analysis during the interval would have observed how puckouts at either end were proving problematic, Tipp won over 70 percent of their own puckouts, the figure for Clare was just over 45 percent. Crucially the visitors were scoring from the restarts at each side of the field.
Diarmuid Ryan combined with Tony Kelly three minutes into the second half to reduce the lead to five as the comeback attempt began. It ended in Tipperary’s next attack as a Jason Forde free hit the upright and was caught by Seamus Callanan, he drilled the sliotar to the net leaving Donal Tuohy with absolutely no chance.
Such was the psychological dent of this score that Clare failed to add to their tally for the next eleven minutes, in the meantime their opponents hit 1-02, the industrious Patrick ‘Bonnar’ Maher hitting the goal.
As the game entered the final quarter, Tipp hit four of the last six scores to secure their place in the Munster Final for the first time since 2016 and pile the pressure on their opponents who play Limerick (Gaelic Grounds) and Cork (Cusack Park) in the next fortnight.
There was no doubt that Tipperary were the form team coming into this game and they maintained their high standards with an array of scores. Jason Forde contributed seven frees to their tally working out at 29 percent, for Clare placed balls accounted for 59 percent of their scores. Six of their front eight were constant scoring threats and it is this spread of scorers that makes them so dangerous. It’s so far so good for Tipp but there’s a long summer yet, Noel McGrath, Patrick ‘Bonnar’ Maher, Brendan Maher and John McGrath were immense for the winners.
Over their tenure, Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor have spoken of the need to turn Cusack Park into a fortress, they have achieved in this regard up to today. Tipperary came to town and now all that remains of this fortress is rubble. They must rebuild it in time for the visit of Cork but also they must regroup in time for next week’s decisive fixture with the All-Ireland champions, Limerick.
Issues regarding Clare’s indiscipline have been highlighted this year and rightly so. Keeping aggression controlled is no easy task and while they managed to do this in the opening half, they failed to lay down a marker. Forty one minutes were on the clock before there was a meaningful scuffle in the game, dirty play is not being advocated here but Tipperary needed a welcome to Cusack Park, they got one alright but the problem is it was far too courteous.
Distribution was chaotic for Clare in every sector of the field and ensured the full-forward line had a shortage of supply which in turn decreased the amount of scoring opportunities. Though several players such as David McInerney, Jack Browne and Podge Collins started well, this was not maintained and subsequently the challenge faded.
From now on, every game is must-win for Clare, when it comes to knockout games they’ve proven themselves before and are more than capable of doing so again.
Scorers for Tipperary: Jason Forde 0-7 (7f); John McGrath 0-6; Noel McGrath 1-2, Seamus Callanan, Patrick Maher 1-2 each; John O’Dwyer, Brendan Maher 0-1 each
Scorers for Clare: Peter Duggan 0-9 (8f); Tony Kelly 0-3 (2f); Diarmuid Ryan, Podge Collins, David Fitzgerald, Shane Golden, Aidan McCarthy 0-1 each
1. Brian Hogan (Lorrha-Dorrha)
2. Cathal Barrett (Holycross-Ballycahill)
20. Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg)
7. Alan Flynn (Kiladangan)
4. Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields)
5. Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh)
6. Padraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields)
8. Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney)
9. Michael Breen (Ballina)
23. Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh)
11. John O’Dwyer (Killenaule)
12. Patrick Maher (Lorrha-Dorrha)
10. Jason Forde (Silvermines)
14. Séamus Callanan (Drom-Inch) (Captain)
13. John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney)
19. Willie Connors (Kiladangan) for Breen (55)
25. Jake Morris (Nenagh Éire Óg) for O’Dwyer (60)
18. Robert Byrne (Portroe) for R. Maher (66)
17. Ger Browne (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams) for McCormack (68)
1. Donal Tuohy (Crusheen)
4. Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge)
2. Patrick O’Connor (Tubber) (Captain)
3. David McInerney (Tulla)
5. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)
6. Jack Browne (Ballyea)
7. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona)
8. Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge)
9. Colm Galvin (Clonlara)
10. Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin)
11. Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
12. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe)
15. Podge Collins (Cratloe)
14. John Conlon (Clonlara)
13. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)
22. Conor Cleary (St. Joseph’s Miltown) for Morey (52)
18. Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona) for Duggan (57)
19. Gary Cooney (O’Callaghan’s Mills) for Conlon (59)
24. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones) for O’Donnell (64)
21. Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin) for Golden (67)
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway)