It was a case of ‘too little, too late’ for the Clare Minor team as their championship campaign came to a halt at the first obstacle. Their strong second half comeback came just short as favourites Tipperary march on to the Munster final.
Venue: Semple Stadium, Thurles
The score line would suggest a tight affair but Clare will know that for the opening 40 minutes, they were a shadow of the team that finished out the game.
The opening quarter of an hour was nervy as both teams tried to find their feet but it was Tipperary who showed more initiative in attack.
They almost had the ball in the net straight from the throw in but Tommy Nolan missed a golden chance from close range. They would have two further chances to find the net before they eventually did in the 25th minute.
Clare were first to make their mark on the score board when Colm Fitzgerald, son of the Clare Senior Hurling Manager, split the posts with a sideline cut.
His midfield opponent Daragh Carey, who would go on to put in a wonderful performance over the hour, struck for two to put the favourites ahead before Jack Cunningham scored an excellent point from out near the sideline.
After that, Clare faced a barren spell of 19 minutes without troubling the umpires while conceding 1-5 at the other end.
A quickfire 1-1 from corner forward Tommy Nolan sandwiched between a double from Lyndon Fairbrother and another from David Gleeson finally made the home side’s domination tell where it matters most, the scoreboard.
A massive free from Fitzgerald pulled one back for the Banner before Aron Shanagher and Carey swapped scores in first half injury time which was extended due to an injury to Stephen Quirke.
Clare needed a big start for the second half to have any real hope of troubling Tipperary but they failed to find it.
Before Clare scored in the second half, the seven-point half time lead had become ten.
Shanagher, who had been blowing hot and cold from placed balls, finally started to find his range and Clare scored five of the next six. Among those was a first touch score for half time substitute Aidan Kennedy.
Fairbrother stopped the rot for Tipperary with a pointed free but Clare weren’t going to give it up just yet.
A long free from Jason McCarthy went all the way through to Padraic Hayes who was dispossessed by Martin Daly to find the net.
The crowd pushed the team on with this new lease of life and they managed to pull it back to a one score game thanks to another point apiece from Kennedy and Shanagher (f).
That was all she wrote for the Banner boys however as they failed to really threaten Hayes’ goal again to get that desperately needed three-pointer.
The killer blow came from substitute Mikey Connors in injury time when he raised the white flag and made it a two score game.
Disappointing end for what will have been a long few months for some of the Clare panel but the lessons learned will prepare them well going forward.
On the other hand, Tipperary justified their favourites tag for the majority of the match and have a good core to their team with Brian McGrath, Daragh Carey and David Gleeson shining throughout.
Tipperary: Padraic Hayes (Ballingarry); Enda Heffernan (Clonoulty Rossmore), Emmet Moloney (Drom & Inch), James Quigley (Kildangan); Jack Skehan (Holycross Ballycahill), Brian McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney), Kevin Hassett (Drom & Inch); Daragh Carey (Templederry Kenyons) (0-4), Alan Tynan (Roscrea); Liam McCutheon (Templederry Kenyons), Stephen Quirke (Moyle Rovers) ©, Garry Ryan (Borrisokane) (0-1); Tommy Nolan (Drom & Inch) (1-1), David Gleeson (Ballinahinch) (0-3), Lyndon Fairbrother (0-5, 4f). Subs: Tommy Lowry (Arravale Rovers) for Quirke (18, inj), Shane Neville (Lattin Cullen) for McCutheon (HT), Rudhan Mulrooney (J K Brackens) for Ryan (45), Mikey Connors (Drom & Inch) for Lowry (55), Cian Darcy (Kilruane McDonaghs) for Carey (59).
Clare: Jason Loughnane (Sixmilebridge); Declan Power (Smith O’Briens), Sean Phelan (Broadford), Ronan Monahan (Tubber); Darren Chaplin (Broadford), Nathan Fox (Parteen) ©, Cathal Noonan (Killanena); Colm Fitzgerald (Sixmilebridge) (0-2, 1s/l, 1f), Jack Cunningham (Wolfe Tones na Sionna) (0-2); Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones na Sionna) (0-5, 4f, 1’65), Mike O’Shea (Smith O’Briens), Jason McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona); Padraig O’Loughlin (Clonlara), Martin Daly (Feakle) (1-0), Conor O’Halloran (Eire Og). Subs: Aidan Kennedy (Kilmaley) (0-2) for O’Shea (HT), Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare) for Monahan (38), Dean Devanney (Wolfe Tones na Sionna) for Chaplin, Paraic McNamara (Kilmaley) for O’Halloran (58), Sean Kennedy (Kilmaley) for Noonan (59)
Referee: Joe Larkin (Cork)