McGrath finds his range to setup Tipp showdown with Rebels
DAVID Power's Tipperary cruised into the final thanks to an eight-point victory over Clare at an icy Semple Stadium.
Liam McGrath was the star of the show for the Premier County as the corner-forward, one of 10 members of Tipp's 2011 All-Ireland minor-winning team in the starting line-up, notched eight points.
McGrath's haul helped Tipp to progress to a first provincial U-21 decider since winning their first football crown at the grade in 2010.
To repeat the trick, Power's outfit will have to defeat a fancied Cork team at Semple Stadium in a fortnight's time. Tipperary led by 1-8 to 0-4 at half-time, with McGrath supplying 0-6 of the home side's total before the break.
The Loughmore-Castleiney hitman was unerring from frees as he slotted four. The goal, scored by Michael Quinlivan in the 28th minute, gave Tipp real daylight.
They led by 0-8 to 0-3 before the Commercials star chased down Niall O'Meara's pass close to the goal line before cutting inside Clare corner-back Stan Lineen. Quinlivan managed to get his shot away and it squirted through the legs of Darren Sexton and into the net.
Cathal Duggan was Clare's outstanding player in the first half as the only Clare senior in the starting line-up hit 0-3, including two fine efforts from play.
Jamie Malone hit two points from play in the second half for the visitors but they never looked capable of mounting a revival.
Tipp could have scored a second goal 12 minutes from time but Liam Treacy shot straight at Sexton when one-on-one with the Clare 'keeper.
Soon after, Billy Hewitt landed a lovely score with his first touch after coming on as a sub before captain Seamus Kennedy stormed forward from centre-back to claim his second point of the game. Clare sub Eoin Cleary completed the scoring with five minutes left.
Scorers – Tipperary: L McGrath 0-8 (6fs), M Quinlivan 1-0, S Kennedy 0-2, S O'Brien, B Hewitt 0-1 each. Clare: C Duggan 0-3 (1f), J Malone 0-2, C Cleary (1f), E Cleary 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY – E Comerford; P Dalton, N O'Sullivan, C O'Sullivan; N O'Meara, S Kennedy, D Fitzell; S O'Brien, I Fahey; B Maher, L Treacy, D Leahy; L McGrath, M Quinlivan, S Leahy. Subs: M O'Sullivan for O'Meara (42), J Longeran for Maher (50), B Hewitt for Treacy (50), J Ryan for Fahey (55), J O'Callaghan for Fitzell (55).
CLARE – D Sexton; A Downes, C Brennan, S Lineen; C O'Brien, S Malone, E Brew; G Looney, C Devitt; D Bolton, P Collins, C Cleary; C Duggan, J Malone, S Lynch. Subs: W Flynn for Downes (47), E Cleary for Lynch (42), D Masterson for Devitt (49), M O'Neill for Collins (52), L Corry for Bolton (56).
Ref – R Moloney (Limerick)