Clare crush Tipp
Clare 1-21Tipperary 1-11 ON Friday night Claremen lay dreaming of a performance like this, but what transpired surely breached the outer limits of their imagination. Yesterday's display at Páirc Uí Chaoimh goes down as their most complete ever and unquestionably the most sustained. It was truly astonishing.
During the week there was talk of the team's increasingly fragile hold on mortality a reaction to the apathy of their demeanour in the drawn match. On this form it is hard to back against them winning a third All-Ireland later this year. If they can reproduce yesterday's form no team will live with them.
Everywhere you looked there was venom radiating from them. A run through the bald statistics gives you an impression of Tipperary's confusion and strife; there was still over 10 minutes left to half-time when Nicky English withdrew Eddie Enright from the torment of Colin Lynch, and threw on Declan Ryan for Brian O'Meara praying, perhaps, that he might prove talismanic.
Ryan definitely made an early impression, doubtlessly driven from his shock demotion, but he was lacking the assistance needed to make any profound incisions in Clare's resolute defence, back to its near-impregnable best.
Tommy Dunne scored ten points of Tipperary's total and the team managed to squeeze just two points from Clare's miserly defence during the 70 minutes. From the early stages Clare gained a choking grip and there were ominous signs for Tipp that they were facing a different force from that they experienced in the drawn match.
Ollie Baker fed Anthony Daly who sent over one of those booming scores he specialises in from time to time the markers were being laid down. On seven minutes a goal from Alan Markham acted like an incendiary device; from there Clare hurled with bewildering pace and purpose. Lynch sent the ball down the left wing of a reshuffled and re-invigorated attack, Barry Murphy took it on and did the smart thing laying the ball across Tipp's exposed goal for Markham to finish.
Markham, back to his best, added a point immediately and Jamesie O'Connor tapped over a free. Clare were relentless, with Dunne's free-taking just about keeping Tipp in touch. Their frustration was epitomised by John Leahy's private torture as he shuffled between wing and corner-forward, and eventually midfield, to no avail.
Clare were attacking from all ends. Frank Lohan burst out of defence to pick out Baker who hit a huge score, then Lynch hit another. Barry Murphy nicked the ball from Liam Sheedy and ran on to score and in the 28th minute you had a neat vignette of proceedings: Brian O'Meara missing a goal chance and then Leahy soaring briliantly to catch the clearance only to drive the ball uncharacteristically wide.
Clare had some cause for concern when O'Connor went off injured late in the half, replaced by Conor Clancy, but you'd hardly have noticed. How many times could you have said that?
The points kept raining down on Tipp, the last of the half being the result of some tremendous work by Markham, who burst past Conal Bonnar before scoring from a tight angle.
Clare, 1-12 to 0-8 up, must have expected some sort of Tipp revival it never came. Clare restarted, if anything, with more ferocity than before. Shortly after the restart, Murphy rounded his marker and pointed, quickly followed by further scores from Seánie McMahon and Markham to open up an 11-point lead.
Dunne replied with occasional frees but Clare's dominance was total. They were 12 points clear at one juncture and even a goal for a 20-meter free by Ryan failed to change the tidal wave of Clare attacks. Ryan shot powerfully to the net on 55 minutes to cut the deficit to eight points, but that was as close as Tipp managed to get.
Six minutes from time Ryan stood over another free, from much the same position, but this time the defenders were equal to it. Within a minute the superb Colin Lynch hit a huge point, the final one of the afternoon which said it all.
Another Munster final for Clare, their fourth in five years, and is there a team to stop them but themselves?
Clare: D Fitzgerald; B Quinn, B Lohan, F Lohan; L Doyle, S McMahon, A Daly; O Baker, C Lynch; D Forde, N Gilligan, A Markham; J O'Connor B Murphy, N Gilligan. Subs: C Clancy for O'Connor (31 mins), PJ O'Connell for Clancy (55 mins), R O'Hara for O'Connell (66 mins).
Tipperary: B Cummins; D Fahey, F Heaney, L Sheedy; C Bonnar, D Kennedy, E Corcoran; E Enright, C Gleeson; T Dunne, E Tucker, B O'Meara; L Cahill, P Shelly, J Leahy. Subs: P Ormond for Enright (24 mins), D Ryan for O'Meara (29 mins), B Horgan for C Bonnar (44 mins)
Wides: Clare 5, Tipperary 6.
Booked: Tipperary: L Sheedy (2 mins), C Bonnar (43 mins), P Ormond (47 mins) Clare: Colin Lynch (19 mins), Brian Lohan (54 mins).
Referee: D Murphy (Wexford)