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Callanan leads from front for Tipp

Tipperary 2-16 Clare 1-11

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All fall down: Michael O’Neill tries to keep his feet as Clare team-mate John Conlon (right) and Tipperary’s Ronan Maher go flying during the Allianz Hurling League match at Semple Stadium. Photo: Sportsfile

All fall down: Michael O’Neill tries to keep his feet as Clare team-mate John Conlon (right) and Tipperary’s Ronan Maher go flying during the Allianz Hurling League match at Semple Stadium. Photo: Sportsfile

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All fall down: Michael O’Neill tries to keep his feet as Clare team-mate John Conlon (right) and Tipperary’s Ronan Maher go flying during the Allianz Hurling League match at Semple Stadium. Photo: Sportsfile

There was widespread sympathy for Tony Kelly in the wake of his red-card dismissal at Thurles on Saturday night, which later broadened into debate on how the game is policed - even how well it is understood.

Directives to clamp down on head-high tackles are commendable in theory. In practice, they may be far from perfect.

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Tony Kelly after being sent off. Photo: Sportsfile

Tony Kelly after being sent off. Photo: Sportsfile

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Hurling is not without sin - the professional foul on a player through on goal being one affliction - but any disciplinary measure relies on an appropriate level of enforcement.

Kelly's challenge on Pádraic Maher was high but not reeking of malice; a red card looked extreme.

Voyage

Liam Sheedy, setting sail on this second voyage as manager with a fine opening league win, seemed to think so when it was suggested that the clash was accidental.

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Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy. Photo: Sportsfile

Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy. Photo: Sportsfile

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"It was absolutely accidental and it was unfortunate for Tony but it had a massive bearing on the game," he replied afterwards.

Kelly had come into the match in a rich vein of form, starring two weeks earlier in the Munster League final in Limerick when Clare triumphed and tormenting the Tipperary backline.

But his involvement here was cut short when Colm Lyons issued the game's only red card in the 44th minute. With the benefit of replays, denied to Lyons, it is hard to see how the punishment fitted the crime.

"We were coming back into the game and I couldn't really see it," said Donal Moloney, Clare's joint manager, "but a lot of your colleagues told me, from looking back on replays it seemed to be quite harsh."

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Tipperary's Padraic Maher in action against Clare's Podge Collins. Photo: Sportsfile

Tipperary's Padraic Maher in action against Clare's Podge Collins. Photo: Sportsfile

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Two minutes before the flashpoint, Kelly had sent over a delightful lineball which sliced Tipp's lead to five points.

Peter Duggan added a free a minute after Kelly's departure and Clare with a huge wind advantage would have been expected to make a serious bid for victory had they the full complement.

Instead, Tipp made a decisive thrust with two goals from their outstanding captain, Seamus Callanan in the 49th and 51st minutes.

Callanan embodied Tipp's fighting spirit in the winds and driving rain. Aside from scoring 2-7, including a late penalty deliberately pointed, he made a series of inspiring retreats to help his side win back possession.

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Tipperary's Seamus Callanan celebrates after scoring his side's second goal. Photo: Sportsfile

Tipperary's Seamus Callanan celebrates after scoring his side's second goal. Photo: Sportsfile

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He was also denied a goal from an earlier penalty three minutes into the match when Donal Tuohy saved to his left. Both penalties were won by Callanan who was easily the game's outstanding forward.

"Seamus is a top-class guy, I have known him for years," said his manager.

"He really applied himself well, but you know you see a young guy Jake Morris beside him, he's played three games in six days, it's really, really tough."

Morris was involved in setting up both goals, with key assistance on the first from Robert Byrne, the first being the pick of the two.

Morris also fired over two points in an impressive showing. In contrast to the Munster League final, Tipp's defence generally coped well, with Maher lording it as sweeper.

But Colin Guilfoyle troubled Cathal Barrett and won the penalty which Niall Deasy goaled in the 28th minute facing the elements.

Trailing 1-3 to 0-13 at the interval, Clare were well within reach.

"There were a lot of tired bodies at the end, we are only ten weeks together, we are putting in really hard work," said Sheedy.

"We let ourselves down somewhat two weeks ago in Limerick. They beat us comprehensively. They showed way more hunger, they showed way more drive."

Moloney offered no excuses. "It was a tough night for hurling but Tipp acquitted themselves very, very well. We have no complaints; they were the better team by far on the night."

Scorers - Tipperary: S Callanan 2-7 (6f, 0-1pen); N McGrath 0-3 (1 s-l); J Morris 0-2, A Flynn, W Connors, M Breen, R Byrne 0-1. Clare: N Deasy 1-1 (1-0pen, 1f), P Duggan 0-4 (3f, 1'65), T Kelly (1 s-l), M O'Malley (1'65, 1f) 0-2 each, J Conlon, P Collins 0-1.

Tipperary - B Hogan 8; C Barrett 6, Pádraic Maher 8, D Maher 7; A Flynn 7, R Maher 7, B Heffernan 7; M Breen 7, R Byrne 7; D McCormack 7, N McGrath 8, Patrick Maher 6; W Connors 7, S Callanan 9, J Morris 8. Subs: M Kehoe 7 for McGrath (61); J O'Dwyer 6 for Morris (64); N O'Meara (too late for rating) for McCormack (69); K O'Dwyer for D Maher (70), C Darcy for Byrne (72).

Clare - D Tuohy 8; J McCarthy 6, D McInerney 6, J Browne 6; A McCarthy 6, C Cleary 6, C Malone 6; S Golden 7, T Kelly 7; D Ryan 7, N Deasy 6, R Taylor 8; C Guilfoyle 7, J Conlon 6, M O'Neill 6. Subs: P Duggan 7, C Galvin 6 & P Collins 7 for Deasy, J McCarthy & O'Neill (h-t); M O'Malley 6 for Taylor (52); I Galvin 6 for Conlon (64).

Ref - C Lyons (Cork)

Irish Independent