Tipperary lap the field in Munster with another fill your boots display
Liam Sheedy's side are putting up totals not seen so far in the new format
Tipperary’s Séamus Callanan scores his side’s second goal past Clare goalkeeper Donal Tuohy during the Munster SHC round-robin game at Cusack Park in Ennis. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Clare 0-17 Tipperary 3-21
It’s only the first weekend in June and already Tipperary have lapped the field in Munster. They’ve put more on the scoreboard in three games so far than they did in four last summer. While not technically in the Munster final yet, you’d imagine only an outbreak of cholera or consumption will keep them out of it now.
For the third game in a row, they put up a 30-point total. For context, that only happened three times in the whole of the 2018 Munster championship, once each by three different teams. They have been behind for precisely one minute in their last two games. Tipp are fizzing just now and everyone else is getting drenched.
They took about 20 minutes to size Clare up here but once they started squeezing, there was nothing the home side could do to wriggle free. The scoreline was gaudy by the end but it was nothing less than a numerical expression of their physical will. They tackled and chased Clare into submission. When they do that, their abundant scoring threat will generally take care of the rest.
Tipp’s spread of scorers was positively socialist. They had five different players contribute at least five points to the overall total. John McGrath took man of the match with six points from play. Bonner Maher must have run him mighty close for the gong, stitching 1-2 of his own, including the best goal of the day and possibly the championship so far. Séamus Callanan threw 1-3 into the pot, Noel McGrath 1-2, Jason Forde potted six frees from nine.
“If you come up short or if you’re not right, you will be turned over,” said Liam Sheedy afterwards. “We were well aware coming down here that if we didn’t come properly . . . the lads prepared really, really well. They got their recovery in but they got their work done too.
“And obviously they had the extra match too. I think that was a bit of an advantage. We were probably a bit more match-sharp than Clare, having had two games already, it’s nice to be sitting here on six points and we’ll push forward from here.”
Clare were in this for a while. At times, and especially early on, they showed in the snap of their striking and the wit of their running that they are every bit Tipp’s equal. The opening stages of the game made a fiction of the wintry conditions – the two sides put up a point a minute for the opening 10, zig-zagging through the wind and rain like it was nothing. Podge Collins and Diarmuid Ryan nailed terrific scores from Clare; Callanan and John O’Dwyer matched them for Tipp.
But from level scores on 10 minutes, Tipperary eased clear by the 25th. Noel McGrath got in for a messy opening goal after a move that began with a perfectly disruptive tackle by Callanan. John McGrath was striking fluidly by now and Bonner Maher was taking over the game. Maher plucked a Donal Tuohy puck-out from the air and returned it for a score before setting up first Noel and then John McGrath for points of their own.
Clare’s only response came in the shape of Peter Duggan’s frees. They didn’t score from play from the 19th minute up to half-time. Tony Kelly, John Conlon and Shane O’Donnell were all non-factors in the game, unable to find any sort of traction against a bristling and vigorous Tipp defence.
Clare’s one hope was to keep Tipp within touching distance and wait for the second-half wind. They went in 1-14 to 0-11 down and in the finger-in-the-air stakes, it did feel like more or less a six-point wind. But unless Clare’s general level of performance improved for the turnaround, a hurricane wouldn’t be enough to save them.
And so it proved. Any opportunity for the game to swing was nixed in a 60-second spell five minutes into the second half. First, Kelly was put in the clear 25 metres out from the Tipp goal. Despite having a man inside, he decided not to try and develop a goal chance and took his point, cutting the margin to five.
In the next breath, Tipp had a free down the other end. Forde’s effort clanked off the right-hand post and fell to Callanan, who whipped the second Tipperary goal. Curtains.
“I think looking in from the sideline, that goal just after half-time seemed to knock the stuffing out of us,” said Gerry O’Connor. “Mentally we were in a very good place at half-time and only six points down, and that shoved the gap out to eight. We had some very bad wides and that seemed to set the tone for us in that second half. The confidence seemed to dip and they got on top. Once they get on top of you, they’ll do a lot of damage.”
From that point on, it was a book-keeping exercise. Tipp filled their boots, scoring with abandon and shooting on sight. Maher’s goal was the pick of the afternoon, collecting on the run around 30 metres out and skinning Cathal Malone on a loop before finishing past Tuohy.
The Clare goalkeeper saw yellow for a heavy tackle as the ball whistled past him and might have seen red. But maybe Alan Kelly decided they had suffered enough by that stage.
It’s Tipp’s world. The rest of Munster just live in it right now.
CLARE: Donal Tuohy; Patrick O’Connor, David McInerney, Seadna Morey; Cathal Malone, Jack Browne, David Fitzgerald (0-1); Shane Golden (0-1), Colm Galvin; Peter Duggan (0-9, eight frees), Tony Kelly (0-3, two frees), Diarmuid Ryan (0-1); Shane O’Donnell, John Conlon, Podge Collins (0-1).
Subs: Conor Clery for Morey (52 mins), Aidan McCarthy (0-1) for Duggan (57), Gary Cooney for Conlon (60), Aron Shanagher for O’Donnell (65), Ryan Taylor for Golden (68).
TIPPERARY: Brian Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Barry Heffernan, Ronan Maher; Brendan Maher (0-1), Páraic Maher, Alan Flynn; Noel McGrath (1-2), Michael Breen; Jason Forde (0-6, six frees), John O’Dwyer (0-1), Patrick Maher (1-2); John McGrath (0-6), Séamus Callanan (1-3), Dan McCormack.
Subs: Willie Connors for Breen (56 mins), Jake Morris for O’Dwyer (61), Robert Byrne for R Mahe ( 67), Ger Browne for McCormack (68).
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway).