Tony Kelly in top form as Clare topple Tipp to claim title
Banner county pull away in the second half to win by 10 points
Tipperay’s Dan McCormack rounds Clare goalkeeper Donal Tuohy to score a goal in the Co-op Superstores Munster Senior Hurling League Final at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Clare 4-19 Tipperary 1-18
It’s only January and it’s only the Munster League, but Clare won’t mind one bit after coming through the warm-up tournament unbeaten and taking the silverware at the expense of a lacklustre Tipperary in Limerick on Sunday.
They narrowly beat Cork and Waterford in the preliminary stages and were operating at a higher level than Tipp in this decider at the Gaelic Grounds, with Tony Kelly nabbing 2-3 with something like his best form.
A tame enough first half in front of a crowd of 4,531 had little between the teams and was only illuminated by a couple of fine Clare goals within six minutes of each other. The opening quarter saw them strike a succession of wides, Colin Guilfoyle chipping in with their only point of that period, before their opening green flag was secured by Cathal McInerney. A puckout was relayed quickly into the full forward’s bailiwick and he took a pass about 10 metres from goal and blasted an unstoppable shot to the net.
Tipperary were on five points by the time Clare got their second goal, this time a succession of quick passing by Michael O’Neill and McInerney created the opportunity for the inrushing Kelly, who opted wisely to bat the ball first time and it duly hit its target.
Séamus Callanan kept Tipperary ticking over with placed balls while Jason Forde got three from play in that first half and also a sideline cut, which was his team’s first score. Alan Flynn contributed two scores from wing back.
The third quarter brought two more Clare goals, their third was a scrambled effort by Colin Guilfoyle and their fourth a long-range ball by Kelly which went straight into the net. They added further points through Kelly, Diarmuid Ryan and Niall Deasy and all of a sudden Tipperary found themselves 10 points behind having been level at the interval.
It got worse too, as Clare kept the scoreboard moving with Guilfoyle, Deasy, Ryan and Kelly all doing their bit.
Again it was Callanan who largely kept Tipp in it with points from both play and frees, and the full forward also acted as provider for their goal in the 59th minute, running through the middle before laying-off to sub Dan McCormack who did well to round the goalkeeper and find the net.
That was little more than a consolation for them and Clare ended up full value for the margin of their victory.
CLARE: D Tuohy; J McCarthy, D McInerney, R Hayes; A McCarthy, C Cleary, C Malone; S Golden (0-2), T Kelly (2-3, one free); D Ryan (0-3), N Deasy (0-3, two frees), R Taylor (0-2); C Guilfoyle (1-3), C McInerney (1-2), M O’Neill.
Subs: P Collins for M O’Neill (53 mins), D Conroy for D Ryan (54), M O’Malley (0-1) for A McCarthy (58), G Cooney for C McInerney (65), J Brown for R Hayes (66).
TIPPERARY: B Hogan; C Barrett, P Maher, D Maher; A Flynn (0-2), S Kennedy, J O’Dwyer; W Connors, M Breen; J Forde (0-5, one s/l), P Maher, C English; M Kehoe (0-1), S Callanan (0-9, six frees, one 65), J Morris.
Subs: R Maher for W Connors (h/t), N McGrath (0-1) for J Morris (46), D McCormack (1-0) for M Kehoe (48), K O’Dwyer for C Barrett (55), R Byrne for S Kennedy (57).
Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).