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Tipperary 1-18 Clare 2-13
Tipperary opened their defence of the Guinness All-Ireland hurling championship with a thrilling win over neighbouring Clare at Pairc Ui Chaoimh today.
Nicky English’s side played with tremendous passion throughout as they battled to a two point win over a gutsy Clare side inspired by the sharp-shooting of Tony Griffen.
The reigning champions progress to a provincial semi-final meeting with Eamonn Cregan’s Limerick on June 2nd while Cyril Lyons’ side enter the new All-Ireland qualifying series.
Griffen excelled in the opening exchanges and pointed two scores inside ten minutes to see the Banner County off to an ideal start.
Tipperary, who struggled to contain Clare’s fluent attacking movement, steadied themselves midway through the half and took the lead for the first time with an Eoin Kelly free after 20 minutes.
The champions sparked into life one minute later when Kelly, a thorn in the Clare side throughout, superbly latched onto Conor Gleeson’s ranging ball to fire home a goal, giving Clare netminder Davy Fitzgerald no chance.
But Clare, so disappointing in the league quarter-final against Limerick, found the perfect response four minutes later.
Full forward Tony Carmody drew his marker as he scorched towards goal. He flicked the ball delightfully into the path of the onrushing David Forde who found the net from close range.
Both sides traded scores late in the half but it was Tipperary who took to the break with a slender three point advantage on a scoreline of 1-8 to 1-5.
The champions found an extra gear after the break and exposed weaknesses in the Clare defence. Clare’s only saving grace was inspirational full back Brian Lohan who, on a number of occasions, spared the blushes of his fellow defenders with timely interventions.
Conor Gleeson excelled at centre forward and smacked over a brilliant score 12 minutes into the second half. Tipperary, by that stage, looked dominant but to Clare’s credit they dug in resolutely, keeping in touch through the slick scoring of Tony Griffen.
Ollie Baker was brought in by manager Cyril Lyons with 17 minutes to play and an out-of-sorts Jamesie O’Connor was pushed upfield to full forward. But Tipperary, despite these changes, never backed off.
While Griffen pointed his sixth of the day, the margin between the sides rarely dipped below three points as the astute Eoin Kelly and Conor Gleeson maintained Tipperary’s advantage.
Four minutes from time, Clare corner forward David Forde capiatlised on some slick interchange play inside the Tipperary full back line to score his second goal and reduce the deficit to a single point.
Clare, however, failed to maintain possession as the game reached injury time. Captain Tommy Dunne and substitute Brendan Dunne pointed in the closing stages to confirm the semi-final meeting with Limerick while O'Connor pulled one back for the Banner.
Munster Senior Hurling Championship
Tipperary 1-18 Clare 2-13
Ulster Senior Football Championship
Armagh 1-12 Tyrone 1-12
Connacht Senior Football Championship
Roscommon L-L Galway