Allianz Hurling League Division 1A – Tipperary 3-19 Clare 1-14

‘Realism’ bites for Banner as Tipp send out signal


COLM KEYS – 01 APRIL 2013 from the Irish Independent newspaper

All afternoon, the various scenarios for the top-tier shake-up chopped and changed, dependent on the results and scorelines from other venues. A team could find itself in a semi-final one minute and in a relegation play-off the next. Not so for Tipperary or Clare, however. At no stage in Semple Stadium were either team ever blown off course for where they eventually arrived. Once Galway kept Waterford at arm’s length in Walsh Park, Clare were only ever destined for the departure lounge of a play-off that could take them back down to Division 1B.

Outplayed, outhought and outfought by Tipperary, from the moment referee James Owens threw the first ball in, the only consolation that manager Davy Fitzgerald could source afterwards was that it might bring a little bit of perspective to where they are as a team. “I was listening to such rubbish during the week about Clare winning All-Irelands. I keep saying, ‘we’re building’ – I’ve been saying this from day one but some of our own people get so carried away,” said Fitzgerald in response to at least one former player’s assessment of their potential. “We have a job to do, it’s a young team and we’re building and we’ll stay building. We’ll take that on the chin today. That’s our first big loss since I’ve been there anyway. We’ll come back fighting for more.”

If such a defeat was a blessing in disguise – to cool the excitement that accompanied two All-Ireland U-21 victories in four years – Fitzgerald wasn’t prepared to say so. It did however bring a touch of “realism” to their current status, he felt. For Tipperary it completes quite a recovery from their first-round mauling in Pairc Ui Rinn. Whatever else this league campaign throws up for them, it has at least allowed manager Eamon O’Shea to steady the ship and make them feel good about themselves again.

They looked like a mature, confident and balanced team throughout, a team that knew what it was doing in every move it made. From corner-back Paddy Stapleton, who swept up just about everything on his patch, to Shane Bourke, arguably their most impressive forward of the campaign, there was method to almost every touch. Brendan Maher looks back to his best, and chipped in with two points to underline his dominance around the middle, while Lar Corbett showed wonderful economy with the limited possession he had, scoring a goal and a point and setting up the same with some delightful touches. Much of the damage he inflicted came in the opening quarter with his perfectly weighted pass off a Darren Gleeson puck-out giving Eoin Kelly all the time in the world to pick his spot and shoot past Patrick Kelly after only eight minutes.

Two pick-ups from Corbett, one for a point himself and another for Michael Cahill’s point, simply oozed class in that early period when Tipperary were backed by a substantial wind and built up a 1-11 to 0-6 interval lead. Eoin Kelly finished the day with 2-8, his second goal late on from a free that Patrick Kelly and Clare full-back David McInerney fluffed on 64 minutes, giving Tipperary a massive 16-point lead at that stage. Nineteen minutes earlier Patrick Kelly had gifted Corbett a goal when his poorly weighted handpass was cut out and instinctively batted home in the same movement for a 2-13 to 0-9 lead.

With such a healthy lead the problematic scoring difference from Pairc Ui Rinn was wiped out, allowing them to top the group, a scenario that “astounded” O’Shea afterwards. Reaching the league semi-finals was “not necessarily” a priority for them but achieving results against hurling’s protagonists, as he sees Kilkenny and Galway, was. “Part of the plan was that we would have a few games that we would like to have won and we won those,” said O’Shea. “The two top teams by far, by a country mile are Galway and Kilkenny. That’s what the statistics are telling us. “Therefore if you’re trying to get up a level you measure yourself against the best teams in the country and those two are the best.”

The performance here, allied to what they did against Galway 13 days earlier, would suggest otherwise however. If Kilkenny and Galway are still the top two then Tipperary are tucked in neatly just behind them. Fitzgerald, for one, knows that Clare have been overreaching to stay in that company and sensed that it was a weekend too far for them. “I think Tipperary have been a bit patchy – poor first game, last week not as good as they could have been,” he said. “For us, we’ve been trying to get up for every single game, trying to play at an unbelievable height and bring ourselves to that height and enthusiasm. Can you do it four weeks in a row? It’s tough. We’ve no excuses today but it’s hard to keep going week after week after week.”

With five current U-21s, and six from last year’s All-Ireland-winning team, they are young enough but this was a challenging day made only slightly more respectable by Tony Kelly’s late goal. “I still have faith in them – there’s no fear of these lads,” said Fitzgerald. “We have a building process here and we’ll stay doing what we have to do. That Clare team will be ok, they’ll keep going.” For Tipp, the recovery has been swift. A 12-point defeat to Cork doesn’t seem so relevant now.

Man of the match: P Stapleton (Tipperary)

Scorers – Tipperary: E Kelly 2-8 (1-7fs), S Bourke 0-4, L Corbett 1-1, N McGrath 0-3, B Maher 0-2, M Cahill 0-1. Clare: Colin Ryan 0-8 (7fs, 1 ’65’), T Kelly 1-1, J Conlan 0-2, Conor Ryan, F Lynch, S Morey 0-1 each.

Tipperary – D Gleeson 7; P Stapleton 8, P Curran 7, M Cahill 7; C O’Brien 7, C O’Mahony 6, Padraic Maher 8; B Maher 8, S McGrath 6; S Callanan 6, L Corbett 8, N McGrath 8; J O’Dwyer 6, E Kelly 7, S Bourke 8. Subs: Patrick Maher 7 for O’Dwyer (h-t), J Woodlock 5 for McGrath (47), J O’Brien 5 for Callanan (53), T Stapleton for O’Mahony (65), B O’Meara for Kelly (69).

Clare – P Kelly 6; S Morey 7, D McInerney 6, D O’Donovan 8; B Bugler 7, P Donnellan 6, P O’Connor 6; N O’Connell 6, Conor Ryan 6; Colin Ryan 6, S Collins 5, J Conlan 6; T Kelly 7, S O’Donnell 5, C Galvin 5. Subs: F Lynch 6 for O’Connell (h-t), C McGrath 6 for Collins (47), E Barrett for Conor Ryan (64), D Honan for O’Donnell (66).

Ref – J Owens (Wexford)


Tipp stars bring ‘A’ game

By John Fogarty for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Tipperary 3-19 Clare 1-14

Two of their goals can be marked down as fortunate, but conviction was stamped all over this Tipperary victory in securing their Division 1 semi-final place. In front of 5,459 hardy souls at Semple Stadium, Eamon O’Shea’s side, aided by the wind in the first half, led from start to finish and ended up top of the table thanks to the other two Division 1A results. After Eoin Kelly’s second goal five minutes from the end of normal time, they were 16 points ahead of a Clare team whose heart went out of it midway through the second half. Tony Kelly’s consolation goal for the visitors in injury-time was but a small blot on the Tipperary defence’s copybook as they handled the opposition with relative comfort.

Although Seamus Callanan and John O’Dwyer, stars in their team’s previous two games against Waterford and Galway respectively, failed to score and were substituted, their shortcomings were more than compensated for by the other members of their attack. A frightfully cold March afternoon like this doesn’t usually reveal much but the clever movement of the Tipperary forwards last seen against Waterford in a Munster final two years ago was evident. Eoin Kelly’s 2-8 total was one of his highest personal tallies in years while Shane Bourke picked off two points either side of the half. Lar Corbett’s touch was a joy to watch at times and his poacher instincts were razor sharp to capitalise on Patrick Kelly’s attempted handpass and bat the ball into the net in the 46th minute.

Clare are now teetering between the divisions for a second year running and this was something of a wake-up call for Davy Fitzgerald, who was angered by some grandiose comments made about his team during the week. “I was listening to such much rubbish during the week about Clare winning All-Irelands,” he said. “I keep saying we’re building – I’ve been saying this from day one but some of our own people get so carried away. “We have a job to do, it’s a young team and we’re building and we’ll stay building. We’ll take that on the chin today. That’s our first big loss since I’ve been there anyway. We’ll come back fighting for more.” Fitzgerald also said Clare “can’t ever forget” how Eamon O’Shea encouraged his players to keep driving on for more scores when they were ahead by “11 or 12 points” ahead.

In an often tempestuous affair, sparked mostly by Tipperary eagerness and Clare frustration, the hosts found the net in the ninth minute when Callanan broke down a ball to Corbett who set up Kelly for the opener. Corbett was also the provider in the 13th minute when his expert pick-up led to a Michael Cahill point and his skills were displayed once more when he fired over a point in the 15th minute. By that stage, Tipperary led 1-5 to 0-2 and it wasn’t until the 19th minute when Tony Kelly split the posts that Clare registered their first from play.

Kelly had been marshalled well by Cahill and Brendan Maher was putting in a terrific shift in the middle against Nicky O’Connell. Darren Gleeson was equal to a Colm Galvin shot in the 23rd minute and Paddy Stapleton made an applaudable last gasp interception from Shane O’Donnell 10 minutes later. Tipperary, even with eight first half wides, were deservedly ahead by the same total at the break (1-11 to 0-6) having gone ahead by 10 in the 34th minute. Their double-digit advantage was attained once again when Corbett followed up to find the net after Pat Donnellan denied his earlier shot.

Corbett was moved to the edge of the square at the start of the second half and his marker, Brendan Bugler, followed, denying Clare the 2012 All Star’s presence in their half-back line. Three unanswered Tipperary points between the 51st and 58th saw the Clare challenge well and truly peter out before Kelly’s long-range free was messed up by Kelly and David McInerney and trickled over the goal-line. This was a step-up Clare failed to negotiate but they might just be as thankful as Tipperary that they have at least one more competitive game before the Munster championship. Even if it’s a relegation do-or-die.

Scorers for Tipperary: E Kelly 2-8 (1-6 frees); S Bourke 0-4; L Corbett 1-1; N McGrath 0-3; B Maher 0-2; M Cahill 0-1 each.

Subs for Tipperary: Patrick Maher for O’Dwyer (h-t); J Woodlock for McGrath (inj 48); J O’Brien for Callanan (53); T Stapleton for O’Mahony (66); B O’Meara for Kelly (70).

Scorers for Clare: Colin Ryan 0-8 (7 frees, 1 65); T Kelly 1-1; J Conlan 0-2; S Morey, Conor Ryan, F Lynch 0-1 each.

Subs for Clare: F Lynch for O’Connell (h-t); C McInerney for Collins (45); E Barrett for Conor Ryan (65); D Honan for O’Donnell (66).

Referee: J Owens (Wexford)


Tipperary brush Clare aside to finish top of Division 1A of the National Hurling League

By Malachy Clerkin from the Irish Times newspaper

Tipperary 3-19 Clare 1-14: On a day that was supposed to turn everyone into mathematicians, Tipperary made it all very straightforward. No need for algorithms, no call for square roots. Just simple law of the jungle. Tipp Tarzan, Clare Jane.

They won by 11 in the end but it could have been anything. More might have been vulgar but it wouldn’t have been unearned. Tipp got on top early and never had cause to check over their shoulder – Clare weren’t to know it at the time but when Eoin Kelly put four points between the teams with his first goal after eight minutes, it was as close as the sides would be for the rest of the day. This was a good old-fashioned hammering, a young side marched to the gallows and having the chair kicked away with extreme prejudice. “Tipp were the better team,” sighed Davy Fitzgerald afterwards. “Every chance they got, they punished us. We gave them two goals. You can’t afford to be making mistakes like that – they’ll punish you big time. Even without the mistakes, they were way better than us today, way hungrier, fighting harder than our boys. They totally deserved their win.”

In front of a hardy Semple crowd of 5,459, some of Tipp’s hurling made a mockery of the thoroughly inhospitable weather. Shane Bourke and Noel McGrath slung over points from all angles and both sidelines, cashing the cheques written by the ball-winning of Michael Cahill and Paddy Stapleton at the back and Brendan and Pádraic Maher around the middle. They got a full half of bustle and bludgeon from Bonner Maher as well. But probably the stand-out displays belonged to Eoin Kelly and Lar Corbett. Both coming up on 13 years into their intercounty careers, they’re still holding their own and more. Kelly’s frees were as inevitable as ever yesterday, albeit that his second goal was a long-range effort that got spilled into the net by Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly.

As for Corbett, there were times when his touch seemed several degrees better tuned than everyone else on the pitch. After sending Kelly in for his first goal with a perfectly-timed handpass on eight minutes – for which he got nailed with a frontal charge from David McInerney, earning the Clare full-back a yellow card – Corbett spent the rest of the first half bringing order to chaos all around the pitch. One sharp pick and pass set up Michael Cahill for a point, another bought him the room for one of his own.

It all meant that Tipp were 1-5 to 0-2 up after 15 minutes and though they had the help of an insistent breeze, this wasn’t the type of dominance that would disappear with a change of ends. Indeed Clare would have been a lot further behind soon after only for Patrick Kelly pulling off a smart save from the energetic Brendan Maher.

And any chance they had of making a game of it disappeared 10 minutes short of the break when corner-forward Colm Galvin shot weakly at Darren Gleeson. A goal then would have brought them back to within three points but not only did Gleeson waft away the shot, he was able to sprawl forward and clear the rebound before Shane O’Donnell could nip in and finish. Crisis averted, Tipp reeled off the next four points in a row.

It sent them in 1-11 to 0-6 ahead at the break and although a willing John Conlon put up the first score of the second half, Clare just couldn’t get any sort of foothold. Noel McGrath sent over a glorious point from the left sideline on 40 minutes and Corbett stuck a fork in Clare soon after.

A Bonner Maher run ended with a quick transfer to Corbett whose shot was well saved by Kelly. But in the ensuing panic, Corbett managed to get a hurl up to block an attempted handpass by the Clare keeper before batting to the net in the same movement.

It put 10 points between the sides and the rest of the day was mere book-keeping. What it meant ultimately was that Tipp finished top of the league, an outcome nobody saw coming five weeks ago when they got torched by Cork in their first game.

“Astounded!” was Eamon O’Shea’s reaction to finishing top of the table. “The start of the league, you know where we were at the start of the league. Maybe I wasn’t that surprised. I wasn’t surprised that we lost against Cork. I was surprised at the margin. We’re still not at the level where some of the other teams are. We’re just going along nicely now, nothing spectacular. We’re trying to get better and we are getting better.”

No arguments there.


Tipperary 3-19 Clare 1-14

Report from the RTE web site

Eamon O’Shea’s Tipperary cruised into the Division 1A Allianz National Hurling League semi-finals with a massive victory over Clare at a bitterly cold Semple Stadium this afternoon. The Premier County had eleven points to spare against Davy Fitzgerald’s visitors in front of 5459 spectators in Thurles. Six-time All Star Eoin Kelly rolled back the years with a vintage attacking display. Kelly finished with 2-8, including a goal in each half. Lar Corbett scored the other goal for Tipp, who led by 1-11 to 0-6 at half-time. Tony Kelly scored a consolation goal for Clare in stoppage time.

The Premier County will meet the Division 1B winners in the last four – with Clare condemned to a relegation play-off against Cork. Tipp were just too good on a bitterly cold afternoon in Thurles. At half-time, the hosts led by 1-11 to 0-06 against a disappointing Clare outfit.

Tipp did play with the aid of a stiff breeze blowing into the Killinan End but they were allowed to do pretty much as they pleased by a Clare team playing without typical intensity. Kelly struck a brilliant goal in the eighth minute, taking a pass from Lar Corbett before rasping a low shot past Patrick Kelly. Tipp almost scored a second goal in the 19th minute but Brendan Maher’s piledriver was tipped over the bar by Kelly.

At the other end, Clare rarely threatened but Tipp goalkeeper Darren Gleeson did well to keep out Colm Galvin in the 23rd minute, before scooping the ball to safety as Shane O’Donnell threatened to net the rebound. Clare shotstopper Kelly endured a jittery second half, however, and was culpable for both of Tipp’s goals after half-time. As he attempted to clear in the 45th minute, Lar Corbett snuck in and batted the ball to the net. And five minutes from time, Eoin Kelly’s long-range free somehow evaded Kelly and Clare full-back David McInerney to nestle in the Clare net.

This was an encouraging display from a Tipp perspective – but worrying for relegation-haunted Clare. Maher was a constant driving force for Tipp at midfield while Shane Bourke added to his growing reputation with five classy points from play. Noel McGrath foraged to good effect and picked off three points from play while Clare’s leading scorer was Colin Ryan with eight placed balls. Clare, however, scored just 1-6 from play and that was never going to be enough against a fluent Tipp.

Tipperary: D Gleeson; P Stapleton, P Curran, M Cahill (0-1); C O’Brien, C O’Mahony, P Maher; B Maher (0-02), S McGrath; S Bourke (0-04), L Corbett (1-01), J O’Dwyer; E Kelly (2-08, 1-06f), S Callanan, N McGrath (0-03).

Subs: P Maher for O’Dwyer (h.t.), J Woodlock for S McGrath (48), J O’Brien for Callanan (53), T Stapleton for O’Mahony (66), B O’Meara for Kelly (70).

Clare: P Kelly; D O’Donovan, D McInerney, S Morey (0-01); B Bugler, P Donnellan, P O’Connor; N O’Connell, Conor Ryan (0-01); Colin Ryan (0-08, 7f, 1 65), T Kelly (1-01), S Collins; C Galvin, S O’Donnell, J Conlon (0-02).

Subs: F Lynch (0-01) for O’Connell (h.t.), C McGrath for Collins (45), E Barrett for Conor Ryan (65), D Honan for O’Donnell (66).

Referee: James Owens (Wexford)

Team News

The Tipperary senior hurling team to play Clare in the Allianz hurling league on Sunday has 6 changes from the team which started against Waterford last Sunday. In a continuation of the goalkeeper rotation policy, Darren Gleeson takes over from Brendan Cummins and the other changes see Paddy Stapleton, Conor O’Mahony, Brendan Maher, John O’Dwyer and Eoin Kelly come into the team instead of Donagh Maher, Thomas Stapleton, James Woodlock, Brian O’Meara and Adrian Ryan. The team is:

1. Darren Gleeson (Portroe)

2. Paddy Stapleton (Borris-Ileigh)

3. Paul Curran (Mullinahone)

4. Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields)

5. Conor O’Brien (Éire Óg Annacarty)

6. Conor O’Mahony (Newport)

7. Padraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields)

8. Brendan Maher (Borris–Ileigh)

9. Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch) CAPTAIN

10. Shane Bourke (JK Brackens)

11. Lar Corbett (Thurles Sarsfields)

12. John O’Dwyer (Killenaule)

13. Eoin Kelly (Mullinahone)

14. Seamus Callanan (Drom & Inch)

15. Noel McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney)