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  • GAA

Experimental Tipp provide morale boosting success

Wednesday, 12th February, 2014 1:15pm

Story by Shane Brophy
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Experimental Tipp provide morale boosting success
Experimental Tipp provide morale boosting success

GAA: Waterford Crystal Cup Senior Hurling Final

 

Tipperary 4-22

Clare 3-11

 

Report by Shane Brophy at the Gaelic Grounds

 

As preludes to the start of the National League go, this couldn't have gone much better for Eamon O'Shea and his Tipperary senior hurlers in last Friday's Waterford Crystal Cup final.

Prior to throw-in there was a sense of apprehension with a very much second string Tipperary side going up against a Clare side with eight of the side who started in last years All Ireland final replay.

Just eight days before the start of the National League, the Tipperary management opted to rest many of their key players with Brendan Maher, Padraic Maher, Noel McGrath, John O'Dwyer and Michael Cahill held on the bench.

It was very much a gamble as a heavy defeat wouldn't have done much for confidence going into this Saturday's league opener but it is Clare who were left bewildered come the final whistle as they were outscored 3-12 to 0-6 in the second half as Tipperary claimed the Munster pre-season crystal for the second time in three years.

Selecting a side where Conor O'Mahony and Shane McGrath could have been certain to start in the league opener, the management got the performance they were looking for with the majority of their players playing for their futures on the panel which was due to be cut following the game.

Of those to impress, Denis Maher edged out Shane McGrath for man of the match. The Thurles Sarsfields attacker showed his undoubted potential scoring 2-2 and also setting up Conor Kenny for his goal. Maher's strength was impressive as was his ability to drive at the Clare defence, making light of the poor conditions in which heavy rain fell throughout making Tipperary's final tally even more impressive.

Seamus Callanan's workrate in the second half was also noteworthy, particularly his scrapping for the dirty ball, an aspect he has been criticised for over the years but his free-taking was up to its usual high standard, converting seven from seven.

Kieran Morris did his chances no harm with two points in a lively first half as did Ruairi Gleeson in his late cameo.

Further back the field, Shane McGrath was once again the star of the defence with a dominant display and his brave block on the line midway through the second half to deny John Conlon epitomised the Tipperary effort on the evening.

In what is appearing to be a spring of redemption for some players, Thomas Stapleton did his chances of remaining on the panel no harm with a fine second half performance, including a powerful sixty-yard solo run which ended with Denis Maher's second goal.

The full back line had a tough time of it in the first half as they Clare full forward line were presented with some fine ball but in the second half slowly turned the screw with Cathal Barrett to the fore.

The management will also have been pleased by a number of their tactical changes, notably before half time when Clare struck for third goals in four minutes, primarily coming from dominating the centre of the field from where they could send into good low ball into their full forward line. Switching Michael Heffernan out to midfield in place of Shane Bourke certainly played dividens as Peter Duggan wasn't the same influence for Clare thereafter.

As impressive as the final margin was, it wasn't a true refelction of this Clare side who showed in the period up to half time just how devastating they can be with their movement and pace which Tipperary struggled to live with. The manner in which they died away in the second half could be put down to a heavy weeks training and while their manager Davy Fitzgerald claimed it was wake-up call for his side, you got the sense that the All Ireland champions won't be unduly concerned just yet.

A truer indication of where both sides stand in relation to eachother will come in the league meeting in Semple Stadium in just under a months time where twelve months ago Tipperary managed to overturn a heavy defeat in a Waterford Crystal final to claim victory.

The 1,248 brave souls who brave the heavy rain were treated to an entertaining and open game with Tipperary setting the early pace with captain for the night, James Woodlock firing over the opening score in the third minute. Despite Clare responding with scores from Colin Ryan and John Conlon, Tipperary dominated the early play and added five points without reply, three from placed balls from Seamus Callanan, including from a well-struck 21-yard free which Clare keeper Patrick Kelly pushed over the bar.

He added a first from play in the 17th minute when Michael Heffernan was screaming for a pass inside but the Nenagh clubman wasn't long in waiting for his goal which came six minutes later, although a little fortunately as a long ball from Thomas Stapleton stuck in the goalmouth and with Patrick Kelly unable to gather the ball, Heffernan managed to force it over the line.

However, despite training 1-8 to 0-4, Clare were beginning to get a grip on proceedings, despite hitting seven wides. David Reidy saw his close range shot come back off the post but it took just two minutes to cancel out Tipp's major when Tony Kelly sent quick ball to Conor McGrath who gathered and fed to John Conlon coming on his shoulder and the wing forward gave Darren Gleeson no chance.

Peter Duggan followed with a point before the banner struck for two goals in a minute around the half hour with the Tipp full back line drawn out, Cathal O'Connell deftly flicked the ball into the path of Tony Kelly whose shot trickled over the line despite a brave effort from Darren Gleeson. No sooner had the net shock than a third goal followed as Conor O'Mahony gave the ball straight to Conor McGrath who didn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Crucially Tipperary managed the final two scores of the half from Conor O'Brien and Michael Heffernan to trail by just one point (3-5 to 1-10) at half time.

The recovery continue straight after half time with Michael Heffernan in his new role at midfield playing in Seamus Callanan before the centre forward did the same for his clubmate James Woodlock. Before Clare's heads had started the second half, they were suddenly four points down with Denis Maher doing superbly well to cut in from the wing before passing to Conor Kenny who goaled from an acute angle.

Clare rallied somewhat with Tony Kelly to the fore but his the only Clare attacker making any headway in the second half as Tipp tightened their grip. It would have been interesting if Clare had managed to goal from a great chance in the 41st minute when a loose handpass from Cathal Barrett but his defence in trouble with Shane McGrath managing to saved John Conlon's shot on the line and somehow managed to keep the ball out.

Once Denis Maher struck for Tipp's third goal in the 48th minute, Tipp kicked for home with the Thurles Sarsfields clubman adding a second six minutes later, although it owed everything to Thomas Stapleton's piercing solo run through the middle.

Leading now by nine-points, Tipperary kicked on with subs Ruairi Gleeson and Steven O'Brien managing to get their names on the scoresheet as Eamon O'Shea didn't need to spring his big names from the subs bench.

 

MATCH DIGEST

Man of the Match: Denis Maher (Tipperary)

Scorers – Tipperary: Seamus Callanan 0-9 (7 frees); Denis Maher 2-2; Michael Heffernan 1-1; Conor Kenny 1-0; James Woodlock, Kieran Morris, Ruairi Gleeson 0-2 each; Thomas Stapleton, Conor O'Brien (free), Shane Bourke, Steven O'Brien 0-1 each.

Clare: Tony Kelly 1-2; John Conlon 1-1; Colin Ryan, Cathal O'Connell 0-3 (2 frees) each; Conor McGrath 1-0; Peter Duggan 0-2.

 

Tipperary: Darren Gleeson (Portroe 7); Cathal Barrett (Holycross-Ballycahill 7), Conor O'Mahony (Newport 6), Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields 7); Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch 8), Conor O'Brien (Eire Og Annacarty 8), Thomas Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons 8); James Woodlock (Drom & Inch 7), Shane Bourke (JK Brackens 6); Denis Maher (Thurles Sarsfields 9), Seamus Callanan (Drom & Inch 7), Paddy Murphy (Nenagh Eire Og 6); Kieran Morris (Moycarkey/Borris 7), Conor Kenny (Borris-Ileigh 6), Michael Heffernan (Nenagh Eire Og 8).

Subs: Ruairi Gleeson (Kildangan 8) for Bourke (61); John O'Dwyer (Killenaule 7) for Morris (61); Steven O'Brien (Ballina 7) for Kenny (61); Padraig Heffernan (Clonoulty-Rossmore) for McGrath (65)

 

Clare: Patrick Kelly (6); Paul Flanagan (7), Cian Dillon (7), Seadna Morey (7); Conor Cleary (8), Patrick Donnellan (6), Patrick O'Connor (6); Shane Golden (6), Peter Duggan (7); John Conlon (6), Tony Kelly (8), Colin Ryan (6); David Reidy (6), Conor McGrath (8), Cathal O'Connell (7).

Subs: Cathal McInerney (6) for Golden (HT); Sean Collins (6) for Ryan (49); David McInerney (6) for Flanagan (63).

 

Referee: John Sexton (Cork)

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