Waterford Crystal Cup Final
Tipperary 4-22 Clare 3-11
Tipperary strode to a fourteen-point Waterford Crystal Cup final win over defending champions Clare on Friday night at Páirc na nGael in Limerick.
Eamon O’Shea’s men went about their work in a smart fashion, but there were a number of caveats attached to this victory. Clare, for instance, struggled to cope with the pace of the game, especially in the second half.
That said there were plenty of positives for Tipperary, most notably the side’s aptitude for work.
Once more Shane McGrath impressed at wing-back, Thomas Stapleton grew into the game, Michael Heffernan enjoyed an outing in the middle third of the field and Séamus Callanan caught the eye while Thurles’ Denis Maher walked away with the man of the match accolade.
From a structural point of view Tipperary struggled in the opening half to manage the space in front of Darren Gleeson’s goal and presented Clare with a number of goal scoring opportunities. Tipperary, however, addressed the issue in the second half with Conor O’Brien manning the area with distinction.
James Woodlock gave Tipperary the lead as early as the third minute while Clare hit back thanks to Colin Ryan (free) and John Conlon.
A Séamus Callanan free in the seventh minute levelled matters before Kieran Morris handed Tipp the lead in the ninth. In the 11th minute Séamus Callanan went for goal from a 21-yard free, but Clare ‘keeper Patrick Kelly deflected that effort over to leave two between them - 0-4 to 0-2.
A smashing point from Denis Maher and then a Séamus Callanan free completed a five-point surge for an enthusiastic Tipperary team which led 0-6 to 0-2 inside thirteen minutes.
Clare’s first score in nine minutes came courtesy of Colin Ryan (free), but Tipperary responded almost immediately when superb work from Denis Maher preceded a Kieran Morris point. Séamus Callanan took his point in the 17th minute despite the unmarked Michael Heffernan calling for the ball inside and Tipp now led by five (0-8 to 0-3).
Peter Duggan responded for Clare before Tipperary struck for a goal in the 24th minute to force themselves into a 1-8 to 0-4 lead - on this occasion ‘keeper Patrick Kelly made the mistake of letting a Thomas Stapleton effort drop in the goal mouth, the projectile bounced dead and Michael Heffernan forced home a cheap goal.
In the opening half Tipperary failed to adequately protect the space in front of the D. Indeed, the Premier had a narrow escape as early as the first minute when Shane McGrath recovered to hook the raiding David Reidy. Darren Gleeson saved smartly from Reidy in the 21st minute, but Tipperary were finally punished for their carelessness in a four-minute spell which saw the All-Ireland champions pilfer 3-1.
All three goals were similar in nature - with the centre-back dragged out of position John Conlon (26th minute), Tony Kelly (30th) and Conor McGrath (30th) plundered three-pointers to force the Banner into a 3-5 to 1-8 lead.
Conor O’Brien landed a long-range free in the 34th minute before Michael Heffernan converted a neat turnover into a fine point in first half injury time to leave one between them (1-10 to 3-5) at the break.
Tipperary addressed defensive issues in the second half with Conor O’Brien (and James Woodlock on occasion) occupying that central channel directly in front of full-back Conor O’Mahony.
In the opening four minutes of the second half Tipperary hit 1-3 without reply to take a 2-13 to 3-5 lead - Séamus Callanan (2) and James Woodlock were responsible for the points while sensational work from Denis Maher saw the Thurles man pick out Conor Kenny with a hand pass and Kenny converted from a tight angle in the 38th minute.
A Colin Ryan point preceded Shane McGrath saving on the line from John Conlon before an excellent Tony Kelly point in the 45th minute left three between them (2-13 to 3-7). Denis Maher belted over a fine point to extend the Tipperary lead to four, but Clare responded with efforts from Tony Kelly and Cathal O’Donnell. It was at this juncture however that Clare began to physically fade.
And, the Banner were hardly encouraged when Denis Maher performed a neat one-two with Séamus Callanan before firing home Tipp’s third goal in the 48th minute - 3-14 to 3-9.
A Séamus Callanan free left six in it before a fourth Tipperary goal ended this final as a contest with sixteen minutes to play (4-15 to 3-9) - an enterprising run from Thomas Stapleton culminated with a pass to Denis Maher who was now enjoying a stint at the edge of the square. Maher made no mistake from close range and the Premier led by nine.
Two Cathal O’Connell frees concluded the scoring from a Clare point of view with eight minutes to play. Tipperary, however, enthusiastically poured forward with Séamus Callanan (two frees), Shane Bourke, Ruairí Gleeson (two), Thomas Stapleton and Steven O’Brien converting late chances.
Tipperary: Darren Gleeson (Portroe), Cathal Barrett (Holycross-Ballycahill), Conor O’Mahony (Newport), Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch), Conor O’Brien (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill, 0-1, 0-1 free), Thomas Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons, 0-1), James Woodlock (Drom & Inch, 0-2), Shane Bourke (JK Bracken’s, 0-1), Denis Maher (Thurles Sarsfields, 2-2), Séamus Callanan (Drom & Inch, 0-9, 0-7 frees), Paddy Murphy (Nenagh Éire Óg), Kieran Morris (Moycarkey-Borris, 0-2), Conor Kenny (Borris-Ileigh, 1-0), Michael Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg, 1-1). Subs: (62nd) Ruairí Gleeson (Kildangan, 0-2) for Shane Bourke, (62nd) John O’Dwyer (Killenaule) for Kieran Morris, (62nd) Steven O’Brien (Ballina, 0-1) for Conor Kenny, (66th) Pádraig Heffernan (Clonoulty-Rossmore) for Shane McGrath.
Clare: Patrick Kelly, Paul Flanagan, Cian Dillon, Seadna Morey, Conor Cleary, Patrick Donnellan, Patrick O’Connor, Shane Golden, Peter Duggan (0-2), John Conlon (1-1), Tony Kelly (1-2), Colin Ryan (0-3, 0-2 frees), David Reidy, Conor McGrath (1-0), Cathal O’Connell (0-3, 0-2 frees). Subs: (HT) Cathal McNamara for Shane Golden, (50th) Seán Collins for Colin Ryan, (63rd) David McInerney for Paul Flanagan.
Referee: John Sexton (Cork).