Clinical Banner claim back-to-back crowns
Clare 1-17 Tipperary 2-10
Lining out with 10 of the team that started last year's final, Clare claimed back-to-back provincial titles in this grade for the very first time.
The All-Ireland champions impressed in front of 8,296 spectators at Semple Stadium, as Tipperary lost for the second year in a row in the final.
Niall Arthur's late goal clinched victory for Clare in last August's Ennis decider but they didn't need such late heroics on this occasion. And now Clare march on to an All-Ireland semi-final clash with Galway on August 24.
Just four points separated the sides at the final whistle last night but there was a gulf in class. Tipp's leading marksman Jason Forde scored two second-half goals but the hosts had scoring contributions from just two other players.
Clare finished the game with 14 men when wing-back Seadna Morey, who was fortunate to avoid a straight red in the first half, was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Morey brought down Tipp captain Niall O'Meara and, from the penalty, Forde slammed home a low drive. But it was too little, too late for a Premier County team that had goal chances in the second half, without ever really looking like mounting a revival.
Forde had cut the gap to five points – 1-14 to 1-9 – midway through the second half but Clare responded with points from senior squad men Podge Collins and Aaron Cunningham to steady the ship once again.
By half-time, Clare had established a six-point lead, 1-9 to 0-6. Fielding six of the players who started the recent senior All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Galway, Clare were ruthlessly efficient. Tipp, in contrast, were reliant on the free-taking ability of Forde to cling desperately to the Banner County's coat-tails.
And almost 30 minutes had elapsed before Tipp managed to get off a shot at goal from play, with Forde hitting two wides before the break.
Clare, who registered seven wides in the first half, were ravenous defensively and, with the quality of ball going into Tipp's inside men not the best, they were swamped by their more physical opponents.
The training that the senior players have been subjected to under boss Davy Fitzgerald obviously stood to Clare's main men, including man of the match and imperious full-back David McInerney. The sides were level three times in a tit-for-tat opening 10 minutes but Clare took over after that.
The visitors moved into a five-point lead in the 18th minute when Peter Duggan rose highest to Alan O'Neill's long free to flick home a fine goal, after Tipp goalkeeper Darragh Mooney had elected to come from his line.
That green flag put Clare 1-5 to 0-3 in front and they would dominate the remainder of a half that was pockmarked by 20 frees.
Free-taker Cathal O'Connell was roving to good effect and there were flashes of the short game employed by the senior team, which worked well.
But Clare also had a slice of luck before half-time as O'Connell's 30th-minute free that was clearly a foot wide was signalled as a point.
And Morey could consider himself slightly fortunate to have picked up just a yellow card earlier in the half when he connected with the back of Niall O'Meara's helmet as the pair contested a puckout.
Not even Forde, scorer of 3-16 in his previous two matches, could rouse Tipp from their lethargy. He was the Premier County's sole scorer with six first-half frees but impish Clare hitman O'Connell had six points of his own by half-time, and two of those were from play.
Forde did finish with 2-7 – but 1-7 of that haul came from placed balls as Tipp struggled for scores from play.
Scorers – Clare: C O'Connell 0-8 (6fs), P Duggan 1-0, C Galvin, T Kelly, P Collins, A Cunningham 0-2 each, S O'Donnell 0-1. Tipperary: J Forde 2-7 (1-0 pen, 0-6fs, 0-1 '65'), L McGrath 0-2 (1f), N O'Meara 0-1.
CLARE – R Taaffe; P Flanagan, D McInerney, J Browne; S Morey, A O'Neill, S O'Halloran; T Kelly, C Galvin; P Duggan, P Collins, S O'Donnell; D O'Halloran, A Cunningham, C O'Connell. Subs: J Shanahan for D O'Halloran (55), C Malone for Duggan (56), N Arthur for Cunningham (60+1).
TIPPERARY – D Mooney; M Breen, A Ryan, C Barrett; J O'Dwyer, T Hamill, S Kennedy; J Cahill, B Stapleton; T Heffernan, J Forde, N O'Meara; L McGrath, B Walsh, A McCormack. Subs: J McGrath for Heffernan (28), C O'Riordan for Cahill (36), T Gallagher for Walsh (41), J Meagher for Stapleton (49), M O'Brien for McCormack (57).
REF – S Hourigan (Limerick).