Seamus Callanan scored twelve points as Tipperary ran out 2-23 to 2-17 winners against All-Ireland champions Clare in their Allianz Hurling League semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds.
The Premier County will contest a second successive final against Kilkenny on May 4, with Semple Stadium in Thurles mooted as the most likely venue.
Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher was Tipperary’s other scoring hero during the course of this six-point win with two goals – one in each half.
Tipperary had been well beaten by Clare when the counties met in Thurles last month, with Conor McGrath hitting a hat-trick of goals for the Banner County, but the tables were turned emphatically in front of 20,452 spectators in Limerick.
In the previous meeting, Tipp had afforded Clare a huge amount of space and McGrath profited but with captain Brendan Maher playing as a sweeper, Eamon O’Shea’s defence was far more solid.
They did concede another two goals but in a high-scoring shootout, Tipp did enough at the other end to secure a seven-point win.
And yet it was Clare who scored the game’s opening goal in the third minute, when Cathal McInerney bundled home a scruffy goal after Darren Gleeson had saved his initial effort.
That score handed Clare a 1-01 to 0-03 lead but Tipp were in control for the remainder of the half to lead by 1-14 to 1-07 at the break.
The Tipp goal was slammed home by ‘Bonner’ Maher in the 17th minute as the returning Lorrha and Dorrha forward latched onto a breaking ball before firing an unstoppable shot past Donal Tuohy.
Four minutes after the break, Patrick Donnellan hauled Clare back into contention when he pulled on a loose ball to send it bouncing past Gleeson.
And while Clare did manage to get back to within three points of Tipp during the second half, they could never quite get close enough.
Instead, it was Maher who responded with Tipp’s second goal just four minutes after Donnellan’s strike.
Callanan had a chance to seal the game in the 54th minute but Tuohy stood firm to make a fine save.
And five minutes later, Callanan elected to lash a penalty over the bar after ‘Bonner’ Maher was fouled.
Callanan’s initial effort was saved but as Maher attempted to burrow through with the rebound, his progress was checked by Cian Dillon.
Tipp were relatively comfortable down the home straight as Clare struggled in vain to get back within striking distance.
And Tipp, who beat Clare in the Waterford Crystal Cup final earlier this year, are within sight of another title as they look ahead to what promises to be a titanic collision with Brian Cody’s Kilkenny.
Scorers for Clare: P Donnellan & C McInerney 1-01 each, C Ryan 0-05 (0-04f), C Galvin, T Kelly, C McGrath & P Collins 0-02 each, D McInerney & J Conlon 0-01 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: S Callanan 0-12 (6f, 2 65s, 1 pen), Patrick Maher 2-00, N O’Meara 0-03, S Bourke & J O’Dwyer (1f), 0-02 each, J Barry, J Woodlock, D Maher, N McGrath & G Ryan 0-01 each.
CLARE: D Tuohy; J Browne, C Dillon, D McInerney; B Bugler, C Ryan, P O’Connor; P Donnellan, C Galvin; J Conlon, T Kelly, C Ryan; C McInerney, C McGrath, P Collins.
Subs: P Duggan for McInerney (h.t.), S Collins for Galvin (61), A Cunningham for Conlon (66).
TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; C Barrett, Pádraic Maher, M Cahill; J Barry, B Maher, C O’Mahony; K Bergin, J Woodlock; N McGrath, Patrick Maher, J O’Dwyer; D Maher, S Callanan, N O’Meara.
Subs: G Ryan for D Maher (47), S McGrath for N McGrath (51), S Bourke for O’Dwyer (61), M Breen for Woodlock (68).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).