Clare 4-19 Tipperary 1-18
Tony Kelly hit two goals for Clare as they won their first Munster Hurling League title in three years with an emphatic victory over Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds.
Cathal McInerney hit the net for the Banner county in the opening period to keep them in touch after a strong start from Tipperary, but with the wind at their backs after the break Clare surged clear and Colin Guilfoyle’s goal wrapped up the win.
Seamus Callanan hit eight points for Tipperary and substitute Dan McCormack scored their first goal ten minutes from time but there was no way back for Liam Sheedy’s side.
With a strong wind at their backs in the first-half Tipperary dominated the early exchanges and Michael Breen came close early on, only to be hooked at the last minute as he bore down on goal.
Tipp started the scoring in the third minute when Jason Forde slotted a brilliant sideline cut from the right, but Clare hit back straightaway through Colin Guilfoyle, who battled hard for possession before pointing on the turn.
Despite that score Clare hadn’t started too well in front of the posts and Tony Kelly fired their fourth wide in the eighth minute. At the other end Tipp were humming and two points from Callanan placed balls were followed by and excellent Alan Flynn point – his control on the run was perfect – and Forde’s second, which put them 0-5 to 0-1 ahead.
With the condition and their poor start Clare looked in real danger of falling well behind, but seconds after Forde’s point they hit back when Cathal McInerney crept in behind the Tipp full-back line and he hit the nt.
Diarmuid Ryan followed that with a great score after he won possession from a Tipp sideline cut and then in the 21st minute Clare hit their second goal when they capitalised on a three-versus-one and Tony Kelly batted to the net for the lead score.
Clare restored their three-point lead after Tipp hit two in a row, but Sheedy’s side surged into the interval with four of the last five points including a great score from Mark Kehoe to leave it level at half-time 0-11 to 2-5.
Clare made a great start to the second-half and Shane Golden put them ahead with a good score on the turn form halfway, but they opened out a four-point advantage moments later when Guiulfoyle poked to the net in a goalmouth scramble when his initial shot was well saved by Barry Hogan, Tipp’s captain for the day.
A long-range free from Callanan kept Tipp in touch, but with Tony Kelly and Deasy making inroads with their direct running, Clare surged well ahead. Kelly hit two points on the run from the left sideline either side of a Deasy free, before Clare’s fourth goal put them 4-9 to 0-12 ahead. It was Kelly’s long delivery that caused panic and with Guilfoyle causing trouble at the edge of the square the ball found its way past Hogan.
With the Clare forwards shooting with confidence, a couple of Callanan frees and a goal from McCormack gave some hope to Tipperary, but Clare battled to the end to register a memorable victory.
Clare: Donal Tuohy; Jason McCarthy, David McInerney, Rory Hayes; Cathal Malone, Conor Cleary, Aidan McCarthy; Shane Golden (0-02), Ryan Taylor (0-02); Niall Deasy (0-03, 0-02f), Tony Kelly (c) (2-03, 0-01f), Diarmuid Ryan (0-03); Colin Guilfoyle (1-03), Cathal McInerney (1-02), Michael O’Neill.
Subs: Podge Collins for O’Neill (54), David Conroy for Ryan (55), Michael O’Malley (0-01) for McCarthy (58), Gary Cooney for C McInerney (65), Jack Browne for Hayes (66).
Tipperary: Barry Hogan (c); Cathal Barrett, Padraic Maher, Donagh Maher; Alan Flynn (0-01), Seamus Kennedy, Joe O’Dwyer; Willie Connors, Michael Breen; Jason Forde (0-05, 0-01’sl), Patrick Maher, Colin English; Jake Morris, Seamus Callanan (0-08, 0-06f, 0-01 ’65), Mark Kehoe (0-02).
Subs: Ronan Maher for Connors (half-time), Noel McGrath (0-01) for Morris (45), Dan McCormack (1-00) for Kehoe (48), Killian O’Dwyer for Barrett (57), Robert Byrne for Kennedy (58).
Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).