Tipperary ransacked by Clare to decimate hopes of an outsider’s run

The visitors outscored Tipp by 3-4 to 0-1 in the middle part of the opening half

Clare 3-21 Tipperary 2-16

Eight days in and the hurling championship is already divesting itself of contenders at a merciless rate. True, nobody really saw Tipperary in those terms in the first place but any notion that they might stitch together an outsider’s run through the summer was decimated here. They were ransacked.

The worst of it for Colm Bonnar's side might be that Clare didn't have to be that good to make a show of them. Shane O'Donnell and Peter Duggan were terrific after long absences and John Conlon enjoyed his day mopping up ball in the half-back line. But Clare didn't need any heroics from Tony Kelly and this game won't have told them much about what they have in the full-back line.

For all the pessimism in Cork, they’re not going to come to Semple next Sunday and keep lamping long ball into the forwards and hoping for the best.


That's what Tipperary were reduced to here, from a long way out. Clare outscored them by 3-4 to 0-1 in the middle part of the opening half, racing through them at will and reacting quicker to the breaks. Two of the goals came from saves by Brian Hogan in the Tipp goal being seized upon by Ian Galvin and Peter Duggan.

The other arrived thanks to a silly penalty conceded by substitute Brian McGrath not 20 seconds after arriving on the pitch. When Kelly dispatched it, it pushed Clare 3-7 to 0-4 ahead. Game, set and match, with only 28 minutes gone.

“We didn’t think Clare would have that start,” said Bonnar afterwards. “You know we were in a good place physically, mentally. We thought we’d bring a big fight to Clare, especially on our home patch here. I thought it was fairly even at the start.

They came at us a hundred miles an hour. It's just disappointing that we left ourselves so much to do at half-time

“They got a goal and a couple of points but we actually had a goal chance. It could have been 1-4 each. That would have helped us to kind of settle ourselves into the game, but the longer it went and the more kind of hard luck stories . . . Clare were just building momentum and when they got that second goal and third goal, they really tore at us.

“They came at us a hundred miles an hour. It’s just disappointing that we left ourselves so much to do at half-time, even though we came out and fought hard and scored 2-9 with the breeze. We got a goal early in the second-half and for a young team we needed to build momentum. We had three or four point chances and before you know it it’s back to eight points or whatever and you’re in with a fighting chance. But when they go wide, it does deflate you more.”


For Clare, this was shallow-end swimming. They went ahead in the fifth minute when Galvin stuck his first point of the day untouched and from that point on, they faced no peril. Galvin's goal came on eight minutes and it kind of summed up the day. O'Donnell snapped onto a broken ball from a Tipp puck-out and whizzed a flat pass up the wing to Kelly, whose do-si-do to wrong-foot Craig Morgan was all kinds of everything.

Kelly handpassed into space for the on-running Ryan Taylor and all of a sudden Clare were in the clear. Ronan Maher came across to cover but overran the ball, Taylor dodged around him and flicked inside to Duggan, whose shot was brilliantly saved onto the crossbar by Hogan.

The Tipp keeper will be entitled to wonder why his bullet-stopping only bought him the reward of three Clare players lining up to bury the rebound, all of them closer to the goal than the nearest Tipp defender.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the second Clare goal was more-or-less a carbon copy. Again O'Donnell got it started, knitting the play together around the middle third before chipping a gorgeous pass into space for Conlon to sprint onto. That was all it took, 20 minutes into a Munster Championship match, for Clare to have a three-on-two 45 metres from the Tipperary goal.

Hogan saved again, Clare were first on the scene again, Duggan filling his boots this time around.

Clare led 3-11 to 0-7 at half-time and Tipp could only come in search of respectability in the second half. Substitute Ger Browne buried a goal after two minutes and Mark Kehoe had a good chance of another soon after but squandered it, the ball dribbling almost apologetically wide.

A fluke goal by Barry Heffernan fell into the net on 49 minutes when Eibhear Quilligan let a routine long ball slip by him but it was all window dressing really.

Onwards then for Clare, whose game against Cork next Sunday will have a big say in who the third team in Munster turn out to be. After this though, you won't hear many arguments over who comes fifth on the list. Tipp have Limerick next.


Tipperary: Brian Hogan; Cathal Barrett (0-1), James Quigley, Craig Morgan; Dillon Quirke, Ronan Maher (0-2, 0-1 free), Seamus Kennedy; Dan McCormack, Barry Heffernan (1-0); Jason Forde (0-7, 0-4 frees, 0-2 65s, 0-1 sideline), Noel McGrath (0-1), Michael Breen (0-1); Jake Morris, Mark Kehoe (0-1), John McGrath. Subs: Ger Browne (1-3) for J McGrath, 24 mins; Brian McGrath for Quigley, 27 mins; Conor Stakelum for Morris, 50 mins; Alan Flynn for Heffernan, 65 mins.

Clare: Eibhear Quilligan; Rory Hayes (0-1), Conor Cleary, Paul Flanagan; Diarmuid Ryan (0-1), John Conlon, David McInerney (0-1); Robyn Mounsey (0-2), Cathal Malone; Ryan Taylor (0-2), Tony Kelly (1-7, 1-0 pen, 0-5 frees), Shane O'Donnell (0-2); Peter Duggan (1-2), David Fitzgerald (0-1), Ian Galvin (1-2). Subs: Patrick Crotty for Galvin, 50 mins; Domhnall McMahon for Fitzgerald, 62 mins; Shane Golden for Mounsey, 70 mins; Jason McCarthy for O'Donnell, 71 mins; Jack Browne for Taylor, 75 mins.

Referee: James Owens (Wexford)

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times