By Mike Fitzpatrick
Clare 1-12, Tipperary 0-10
An understrength Tipperary senior hurling side succumbed to its first defeat of the season thanks to a spirited Clare performance which witnessed midfielder John Kennedy hit a staggering nine efforts over the bar. Tipperary, fancied by many of the Gaelic Park faithful to eventually clinch the senior hurling crown, opened the tie at a surprisingly sluggish pace.
Clare had more to play for as Tipp had long ago qualified for the competition’s latter stages due to some impressive victories earlier in the season.
Clare clinched their berth in the semifinals with this victory and will face the daunting challenge of Limerick in the final four.
Tipperary will play Waterford in the other semi.
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Both Kevin and Mike Kennedy got their names on the score sheet for Tipp, while the aforementioned John starred for Clare. It was these three who scored the opening points of the tie.
Clare’s Darren Doherty, playing his second consecutive game of the afternoon grabbed an early goal which gave the Bannermen a decent three point lead, and for the rest of the half it was Tipperary doing much of the chasing as Clare sought to outdo their opponents at every level.
At half time, Clare led by a score of 1-6 to five points, and afterwards rarely looked capable of losing the tie.
Kevin Kennedy hit four consecutive points over for Tipp in the second half despite the heavy presence of Clare’s backline who seemed intent on gaining victory at any cost.
A number of bookings threatened to dominate proceedings; these were due to the ferocious determination of some players.
Clare afforded themselves the introduction of a number of second half substitutes to further their cause, and a trio of points from John Kennedy edged Clare into a late lead, leaving Tipperary in need of goals rather than points.
In the end, Clare’s five-point victory was a deserved one. Although many will say that Tipp were not in a position where they had to win, so Clare were at an advantage from the start,