/ GAA

Tipperary 2-21 Clare 0-19

Updated: Wednesday, 06 Aug 2008 02:44

Seamus Callinan celebrates his goal Tipperary starting XV Clare starting XV
Seamus Callinan celebrates his goal Tipperary starting XV Clare starting XV

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Tipperary claimed their first Munster SHC title since 2001 as they overcame Clare in a disappointingly one-sided final at the Gaelic Grounds this afternoon.

Goals in either half from Seamus Callinan (1-03) and John O'Brien (1-04) helped the National League champions to a comfortable eight-point win.

With Conor Plunkett badly exposed at centre-back and a first half wides tally of 10, Clare struggled initially in defence and attack.

1-11 to 0-06 behind at half-time, the Banner men, aided by Niall Gilligan's 0-08 haul, revived their chances by closing the gap to five points but O'Brien's 58th-minute major clinically sealed the issue.

Tipperary's 37th provincial success was memorably cheered to the rafters by the Premier county contingent in the 48,076-strong crowd, as the Liam Sheedy-managed team maintained their unbeaten run in 2008.

Sheedy's first season at the helm could hardly have gone any better to date, with three trophies now safely locked away (they were also Waterford Crystal Cup winners in January).

With a neat blend of youth and experience, Tipp look to be the coming team this year and they deservedly have an All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park to look forward to next month.

Clare suffered greatly due to a poor first half. Had they been closer at the break, there might have been a different result but Tipp got their goals at crucial times and those strikes gave them enough breathing space to see out the win.

Clare took to the pitch showing just one change to the team that started their semi-final win over Limerick, with Gerry Quinn taking over at wing-back from the suspended Brendan Bugler.

For Tipp, Pat Kerwick and John O'Brien came into the half-forward line as the two changes to the side that beat Cork last time out.

Meeting in a Munster final for the first time since 1997, these counties both had reasons to be optimistic given their recent championship form.

But it was Tipp who showed all the early promise with three crisply-struck points from James Woodlock, Lar Corbett and team captain Eoin Kelly.

Woodlock barrelled through Clare's centre before firing over off his right for the lead point in the second-minute.

Clare made a number of positional switches in their forward lines and they took their time to settle as Tony Griffin and Mark Flaherty both hit early wides.

In the fifth-minute, Corbett superbly controlled a huge clearance from Shane McGrath, showing lovely balance before tapping over from close range.

Kelly followed up with a third point before Flaherty eased Clare's nerves with a pinpoint free for 0-03 to 0-01.

But although both Gilligan and Diarmuid McMahon were guilty of some poor shooting, Clare were soon back level at 0-04 apiece thanks to overs from Flaherty (free), Colin Lynch and Tony Carmody.

Tipp foraged ahead again with well-taken points from McGrath and the on song Corbett.

Worryingly for Clare manager Mike McNamara, his side had accumulated six wides by the midpoint of the first half, with both Jonathan Clancy and McMahon shooting wide of the uprights.

The conquerors of 2007 champions Waterford also dropped a number of balls short into the grateful arms of Tipperary goalkeeper Brendan Cummins, who was razor-sharp once again between the posts.

Pat Kerwick ended a seven-minute scoreless spell to increase Tipp's advantage and that was soon a 'double scores' lead.

Thriving in the open expanses of the Limerick venue, it was interesting to note that Tipp had tallied up nine points from play before Kelly converted a 25th-minute free for a 0-10 to 0-05 lead.

Callinan and O'Brien were proving too hot to handle for a Clare defence that tried gamely to close off any danger.

Worse followed for McNamara's side in the 27th-minute when Callinan powered through on a meandering 20-metre run, cutting in from the right before unleashing a rocket of a shot past Clare net minder Philip Brennan.

Tipp were now laying siege to the Clare goal and Frank Lohan, just moments later, had to show good reactions to block a goal-bound effort from the 19-year-old Callinan.

The rebound fell nicely for Corbett but his attempt was miss-hit and Clare breathed a sigh of relief.

Gilligan came to his side's rescue again when he pointed to end a barren 23-minute spell for them, but Kelly was quick to respond at the other end, leaving Tipp with an eight-point lead to take into the second half.

With the Premier men looking rock solid at the back - 2007 All-Star Declan Fanning had stepped in to replace the injured Paul Curran at full-back - it was going to take a monumental effort for Clare to get back in touch.

But McNamara's charges did not get the start to the second half they wanted and Tipp pulled further ahead by scoring five of the half's first six points.

Callinan took his tally to 1-02 with a neat score from the left, McGrath followed suit and Kelly angled over two more points - a free and a well-executed point on the turn.

Toomevara clubman John O'Brien also took his tally to 0-03 as Clare could only muster a Carmody point in response.

Now 1-16 to 0-07 behind, Clare needed to act fast and credit to them, they did gain some decent momentum by flinging over the game's next seven points.

They made a real game of it as Gerry Quinn, who had been moved successfully to centre-back, and tigerish midfielder Colin Lynch crept over points.

Gilligan hit two scores on the bounce, Lynch conjured up his third of the game and with Tipp beginning to dither on the ball, a brace of quick points from Gilligan and Clancy cut the gap to 1-16 to 0-14 by the 55th-minute.

Suddenly, this final was back in the melting pot and all Clare really needed was a goal. But, ironically, almost in one fell swoop, O'Brien raised a green flag at the opposite end.

The 26-year-old brilliantly plucked a Cummins puck-out out of the sky, turned and set off for goal and with the Clare defence standing off, he rifled a meaty shot past Brennan to stun the Banner faithful.

Their woes were compounded when O'Brien cracked over his fourth point of the encounter for a 2-17 to 0-14 score-line.

Tipp showed no mercy and although Sheedy will have been unhappy that their work-rate dipped in the second period, late points from Callinan, substitute Hugh Maloney, McGrath and Kelly eased his side home.

McGrath had time to throw in a cheeky celebration as he flung over a delightful sideline cut from the left wing.

With Lynch still scrapping for every ball in what was a fascinating midfield battle, Clare admirably kept plugging away. Gilligan provided the bulk of their late scores.

But even a consolation goal eluded them as Tipp stopper Cummins produced two outstanding late saves to deny both substitute Fergal Lynch and Gilligan.

The latter's effort from a 20-metre free was turned away by a full-length save from Cummins, which had the 'keeper roaring his approval and the moment just emphasised that Tipp were too good on the day.

Scorers - Tipperary: J O'Brien 1-04, S Callinan 1-03, E Kelly 0-06 (0-02f), S McGrath 0-03, L Corbett 0-02, J Woodlock, P Kerwick, H Maloney 0-01 each. Clare: N Gilligan 0-08 (0-05f), M Flaherty (0-03f), C Lynch 0-03 each, T Carmody 0-02, J Clancy, G Quinn, D McMahon 0-01 each

Tipperary: B Cummins; E Buckley, P Curran, C O'Brien; E Corcoran, C O'Mahony, S Maher; J Woodlock, S McGrath; P Kerwick, S Callinan, J O'Brien; E Kelly (capt), L Corbett, S Butler.

Subs: D Fanning (for Curran 30 mins), M Webster (for Kerwick 49), H Maloney (for Butler 53), B Dunne (for Woodlock 67).

Clare: P Brennan; P Vaughan, F Lohan, G O'Grady; G Quinn, C Plunkett, P Donnellan; B O'Connell (capt), C Lynch; T Carmody, D McMahon, J Clancy; T Griffin, N Gilligan, M Flaherty.

Subs: D O'Rourke (for Flaherty 27 mins), G O'Connell (for Plunkett 40), F Lynch for (O'Rourke 60), B Nugent (for Griffin 63), M Murphy (for McMahon 68).

Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).