By Peter Nolan
Tipperary, with their by now familiar lineup, were expected to roll over Clare in Sunday’s Senior Hurling contest and eventually they did. But the Banner County men didn’t make it easy.
Clare opened the scoring when John Pyne notched the first of his 0-5 for the first half. Bobby Ryan replied for Tipperary and then John Madden took a Ryan pass to edge Tipp ahead. Pyne soon drew Clare level but then Kevin Kennedy found his forward partner Garreth Gee, and Gee fired a shot through traffic to the back of the Clare net.
Clare responded well to their setback, battling the fancied Tipperary side to a standstill throughout the pitch. In fact, veteran corner back Jim Lyons was forced to make a critical interception or Clare might have broken through for a goal. Gee and Ryan closed out Tipperary’s first-half scoring as Pyne answered with 0-3 to bring the half time tally to 1-4 to 0-5 in favor of Tipperary.
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Trailing by only 0-2 at the break, Clare had to be feeling good about their chances. Then, within one minute of the restart it all went wrong for the Banner men. Less than 30 seconds from the throw-in, Gee returned Kevin Kennedy’s favor from the first half and put him through for a Tipperary goal.
Then lightening struck a second time and Clare were burned by another Kevin Kennedy goal. Less than one minute from the restart and all Clare’s good work had gone by the boards.
With Clare reeling, the experienced Tipp side showed their killer instinct adding 0-4 to a lone Clare point from Joe Brennan. Clare continued to fight back, searching for a break through, finally breaching the Tipperary goal line with a good Eoin Vaughn effort. Vaughan’s 3-pointer narrowed Clare’s deficit to 3-9 to 1-8.
Tipperary had grown sloppy with their big lead, but now in the face of a renewed Clare challenge, Tipperary responded. Almost immediately after Vaughn’s goal, Bobby Ryan answered with a Tipperary goal, squashing any Clare comeback hopes.
With 10 minutes still to play, Tipp had knocked the wind from Clare’s sails and the final minutes were all Tipp as the favorites added 4 points while Clare failed to score again.
Man of the Match: Kevin Kennedy.
Tipperary: Tim Cullen, Tomas Maher, Jim Lyons, Sean Quirke, Owen Cummins (0-1), Sean Shepard, John Madden (0-2), Willie Hacket, Pat Walsh, Mike Kennedy, Bobby Ryan (1-3), Kevin Kennedy (2-2), Garreth Gee (1-5).
Clare: Steven O’Hara, Seamus Pender, Ryan Adams, Eoin Concannon, Eric Flynn, Ronan Sheedy, Dennis Ryan, John Kennedy, Brian Tobin (0-1), Eoin Vaughn (1-0), John Pyne (0-6), Liam Briody, Joe Brennan (0-1).