Eamon O’Shea’s Tipperary cruised into the Division 1A Allianz National Hurling League semi-finals with a massive victory over Clare at a bitterly cold Semple Stadium this afternoon.
The Premier County had eleven points to spare against Davy Fitzgerald’s visitors in front of 5,459 spectators in Thurles.
Six-time All Star Eoin Kelly rolled back the years with a vintage attacking display.
Kelly finished with 2-8, including a goal in each half. Lar Corbett scored the other goal for Tipp, who led by 1-11 to 0-6 at half-time. Tony Kelly scored a consolation goal for Clare in stoppage time.
The Premier County will meet the Division 1B winners in the last four – with Clare condemned to a relegation play-off against Cork.
Tipp were just too good on a bitterly cold afternoon in Thurles.
At half-time, the hosts led by 1-11 to 0-06 against a disappointing Clare outfit.
Tipp did play with the aid of a stiff breeze blowing into the Killinan End but they were allowed to do pretty much as they pleased by a Clare team playing without typical intensity.
Kelly struck a brilliant goal in the eighth minute, taking a pass from Lar Corbett before rasping a low shot past Patrick Kelly.
Tipp almost scored a second goal in the 19th minute but Brendan Maher’s piledriver was tipped over the bar by Kelly.
At the other end, Clare rarely threatened but Tipp goalkeeper Darren Gleeson did well to keep out Colm Galvin in the 23rd minute, before scooping the ball to safety as Shane O’Donnell threatened to net the rebound.
Clare shotstopper Kelly endured a jittery second half, however, and was culpable for both of Tipp’s goals after half-time.
As he attempted to clear in the 45th minute, Lar Corbett snuck in and batted the ball to the net.
And five minutes from time, Eoin Kelly’s long-range free somehow evaded Kelly and Clare full-back David McInerney to nestle in the Clare net.
This was an encouraging display from a Tipp perspective – but worrying for relegation-haunted Clare.
Maher was a constant driving force for Tipp at midfield while Shane Bourke added to his growing reputation with four classy points from play.
Noel McGrath foraged to good effect and picked off three points from play while Clare’s leading scorer was Colin Ryan with eight placed balls.
Clare, however, scored just 1-6 from play and that was never going to be enough against a fluent Tipp.
Tipperary: D Gleeson; P Stapleton, P Curran, M Cahill (0-01); C O’Brien, C O’Mahony, P Maher; B Maher (0-02), S McGrath; S Bourke (0-04), L Corbett (1-01), J O’Dwyer; E Kelly (2-08, 1-07f), S Callanan, N McGrath (0-03).
Subs: P Maher for O’Dwyer (h.t.), J Woodlock for S McGrath (48), J O’Brien for Callanan (53), T Stapleton for O’Mahony (66), B O’Meara for Kelly (70).
Clare: P Kelly; D O’Donovan, D McInerney, S Morey (0-01); B Bugler, P Donnellan, P O’Connor; N O’Connell, Conor Ryan (0-01); Colin Ryan (0-08, 7f, 1 65), T Kelly (1-01), S Collins; C Galvin, S O’Donnell, J Conlon (0-02).
Subs: F Lynch (0-01) for O’Connell (h.t.), C McGrath for Collins (45), E Barrett for Conor Ryan (65), D Honan for O’Donnell (66).
Referee: James Owens (Wexford).