By Jack Flynn
Tipperary 5-1, Clare 3-8
Forgive the fans who might have been a bit confused while watching the early Senior Hurling match at Gaelic Park on Sunday. Tipperary were wearing a blue jersey with a horizontal yellow stripe, while Clare, their opponents, fashioned a yellow jersey with a blue horizontal stripe, sometimes giving the match the feel of an intrasqaud scrimmage.
Despite the color coordination, the difference between the two teams was evident in terms of play, as Tipperary’s Paul Hogan scored three goals to key a 5-11 to 3-8 rout of Clare.
“I was just doing my job and that’s it,” Hogan said. “I was just lucky that the ball fell for me.”
Perhaps more than just luck was involved, as the ball fell Hogan’s way early and often throughout the match. The full forward added four points to go with his three goals for Tipperary.
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The match began evenly, as Clare and Tipperary traded in the early going. A Tony O’Brien point was matched by one from Clare’s John Kennedy before Hogan scored his first goal off a scramble in front of Clare’s net, making the early score 1-1 to 0-1 in favor of Tipperary.
Clare quickly responded with a goal of their own, off the foot of full forward Kyle Quinn, to level the score. But before Clare could gain some momentum, Hogan hammered home a deflection off an O’Brien free to restore Tipperary’s 3-point advantage.
That advantage held up for the rest of the first half, as the teams for the most part traded points evenly. While Tipperary got offensive contributions from several players, including O’Brien, Mick Kennedy and Alan Slattery, Clare relied almost exclusively on Kennedy to keep pace.
Kennedy was the taker of several long frees in the first half, and all were impressive for their sheer distance if not always for their accuracy. Kennedy did, however, account for four of his team’s six scores in the first half and was a force to be reckoned with throughout.
Hogan’s fourth score on the afternoon came just before the half-time horn, making the score 2-6 to 1-5 for Tipperary after 30 minutes. A brilliant save by Tipp keeper Ian Duggan on Clare’s Gary Mernagh allowed his team to retain its comfortable advantage.
An early second-half run that included a Shane Commerford goal and culminated in a Kennedy point gave Tipperary a commanding 3-9 to 1-6 lead. Commerford’s role in his goal was minimal, as he failed at a long pass that apparently deflected off his hurley and past Clare keeper Aiden O’Connor.
Just as it seemed that Clare was dead and buried under a barrage of Tipperary scoring, they clawed their way right back into the match. Barney Breen scored his first goal of the match, then Quinn followed with his second minutes later. Suddenly, Clare trailed by only two points, 3-9 to 3-7.
“We sort of let them back into the game but then we scored some points at the right time,” Hogan said.
It was Hogan himself who started the ball rolling for Tipperary again, scoring his third goal in unusual fashion. In all alone on O’Connor, Hogan tried to run around Clare’s keeper and slam the ball home. He accomplished the first task but fell as he was striking the ball, resulting in a squib that somehow avoided the hurl of a charging Clare full back and dribbled into the net.
O’Brien added his first goal of the match on a penalty shot soon after Hogan completed his hat trick and Tipperary had sewn up the match. Points by Hogan and Kennedy for Tipperary and Quinn for Clare accounted for the final tally.
Tipperary scorers: Hogan 3-4, O’Brien 1-2, Commerford 1-0, M. Kennedy 0-3, Slattery and Ryan 0-1.
Clare: Quinn 2-3, Breen 1-0, J. Kennedy 0-4, Moore 0-1.