Late Grace O'Brien point clinches draw for poor Tipperary

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Munster Camogie Championship Semi-Final

Tipperary 1-16

Clare 2-13

The Tipperary senior camogie team just about salvaged a draw against a very impressive and well drilled Clare team in today's Munster championship semi-final in FBD Semple Stadium.

Tipperary were looking like being on the end of a fair upset late in the game when Eimear Kelly's goal two minutes before the end of the second half gave the Banner a single point lead and put the visitors on the verge of upsetting the apple cart, but a late Grace O'Brien point drew it late on to leave it honours even.

With the crowd filtering into Semple Stadium the game got underway with Tipperary starting the stronger side in the first five minutes, taking a 0-3 to 0-1 lead in this time with two points from Cait Devane (1 free), and a well struck effort from Casey Hennessy; all coming after Clare’s Lorna McNamara pointed the game’s first score inside the first minute.

Clare looked up for this game, and coming in as underdogs would have given them freedom to go at Tipp, and they were looking dangerous in patches in the first quarter with Aine O’Loughlin pointing with her first touch of the game after six minutes, while Chloe Morey pointed a long range free in response to a Cait Devane effort just a minute beforehand.

Tipp were beginning to feel their way into the game inside though and a very well taken Jenny Grace goal came in the 12th minute, when Clodagh McIntyre came to midfield to pick up possession before opening the lungs to take off down the middle of the Clare defence and offload a hand pass to the Burgess Duharra forward who slotted the ball to the bottom corner to give Tipp a 1-5 to 0-3 lead.

Further scores from Casey Hennessy and a well set up Grace O’Brien point from distance had given Tipp a six-point lead by the 20th minute, and it would have been expected that Clare might wilt as the underdogs.

But they dominated the final ten minutes of the half, with two Chloe Morey frees from range cutting the gap, before AIne O’Loughlin produced a 1-1 scoring salvo in the final five minutes of normal time, with her goal being well finished after being set up Eimear Kelly to level the game out 1-7 apiece.

Tipperary re-took the lead in added time through a Clodagh McIntyre point - once again showing her searing pace - but Clare had the tails up now and were playing with confidence and levelled the game once again with the last puck of the half through a fine Muireann Scanlon point all on her own from the 45, and it was all to play for in the second period.

Clare were definitely feeling that they had a chance to cause an upset on the day, and with Tipperary very much out of rhythm, it was certainly on the cards in the early exchanges as Clare took the lead after ten minutes with Aine O’Loughlin once again in target to put the Banner in the lead for the first time.

Chloe Morey playing as the spare man was proving very effective for Clare and Tipperary were struggling massively to gain possession in their forward division, but they rallied in the following minutes with Clodagh McIntyre proving to be Tipp’s best outlet, and her point along with Cait Devane’s free had Tipperary back in front by the 45 minute mark.

It was a short-lived lead as Eimear Kelly scored a major on the run under the O Coinneain stand to level it again and the game was looking like it would be going right down to the wire.

Bill Mullaney looked to his bench for inspiration going down the home stretch, and the introduction of Nicole Walsh proved to be an important switch, as she followed a Jenny Grace point from play with two of her own to give Tipp a two point lead as Clare were looking tired from the effort and exertions they had put in earlier in the game.

But the Banner weren’t going to lie down and let Tipp canter home with the win, and they had levelled the game once again by the 52nd minute, and when it was incredibly hard to call what way the result was going to go.

Tipp rallied once again and had to work hard to gain the lead soon after, and the scores all came from Clodagh McIntyre’s hard graft, with a Cait Devane free pushing Tipp in front, while Eimear McGrath scored a lovely point to push it out.

That looked like it might see Tipp over the line, but there was time for more drama yet as Clare struck the lead with a goal two minutes from time, when Eimear Loughman tried to play the ball in front of her marker and let the Clare attack in on goal, and despite Aine O’Loughlin skewing her effort from close range, Eimear Kelly was on hand to flick the ball over the line from a matter of inches and put Clare in front.

An injury to AIne Slattery stalled the restart, but Tipp showed great mettle to go up the field from there and find the equaliser, as once again, Clodagh McIntyre made a nuisance of herself to win a ball in a ruck and find Grace O’Brien who showed nerves of steel to slot over the final point of the game and set up a replay.

Scorers: Tipperary: Cait Devane (0-6, 0-5f), Jenny Grace 1-1, Casey Hennessy, Clodagh McIntyre, Grace O’Brien, Nicole Walsh 0-2 each, Eimear McGrath 0-1.

Clare: Aine O’Loughlin 1-3, Lorna McNamara (0-4, 0-1f), Chloe Morey 0-4f, Eimear Kelly 1-1, Muireann Scanlon 0-1.

Tipperary: Aine Slattery; Julieanne Bourke, Courtney Ryan, Eimear Loughman; Ciardha Maher, Mary Ryan, Aoife McGrath; Grace O’Brien, Niamh Treacy; Jenny Grace, Roisin Howard, Casey Hennessy; Claire Hogan, Cait Devane, Clodagh McIntyre.

Subs: Caoimhe McCarthy for Treacy; Nicole Walsh for Hogan; Eimear McGrath for Hennessy; Ereena Fryday for Grace.

Clare: Doireann Murphy; Ciara Grogan, Clare Hehir, Caoimhe Kelly; Aoife Keane, Chloe Morey, Muireann Scanlon; Susan Daly, Caoimhe Carmody; Lorna McNamara, Niamh O’Dea, Lynda Daly; Eimear Kelly, Aine O’Loughlin, Ziyan Spillane.

Subs: Greta Hickey for Scanlon; 

Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork)

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