TIPPERARY recovered from a dreadful start to claim a 20th provincial U-21 crown at Semple Stadium last night.
The Premier County dethroned 2009 provincial and All-Ireland champions Clare to land Munster silverware for the first time since defeating the same opposition in a stormy Cusack Park decider two years ago.
There was none of the late drama that marred the 2008 final as Tipp finished with a flurry of scores from Paddy Murphy to set up an All-Ireland semi-final meeting with Antrim on August 21.
A crowd of 11,450 spectators was present in Thurles last night as Tipp, who started with five of the players who lined out in last Sunday's gripping All-Ireland senior quarter-final win against Galway, capped a most satisfying few days for the county.
Clare put up a stern challenge but, ultimately, Tipp had too much firepower as they landed 1-18 of their match-winning total from play, with five of Tipp's starting forwards and both midfielders on target.
Clare, boasting 10 players who featured in last year's All-Ireland U-21 final, arrived in confident mood and were looking to create history by claiming Munster minor and U-21 titles in the same season for the first time.
And they opened in style, leading by 1-3 to 0-0 within three minutes, before Tipp hit back to claim a 1-12 to 1-9 half-time advantage. Clare narrowed the gap back to a point in the early stages of the second half, but Tipp reasserted their authority and were never really troubled from there until the finish.
Tipp could even afford the luxury of a second-half penalty miss as Seamus Hennessy's 38th-minute drive was flicked over the bar by Cathal Chaplin, who had hauled down the rampaging Brian O'Meara.
Michael Heffernan was the star of the first half for Tipp with 1-3 from play, but towards the finish his Nenagh Eire Og clubmate Murphy was superb at centre-forward as he contributed four points in the last seven minutes of playing time.
Clare's start was blistering as skipper John Conlon pointed with just 25 seconds on the watch. Conor McGrath, who hit 1-5 in the first half, converted his first free of a flawless evening from placed balls soon after before McGrath supplied Clare's goal in the third minute.
Patrick O'Connor was the inadvertent supplier as the wing-back's lengthy delivery was missed by Tipp goalkeeper James Logue and McGrath pounced for a simple close-range finish.
Former minor All-Ireland medallist Logue performed heroics in the eighth minute to redeem himself -- denying Darach Honan from point-blank range -- before saving a penalty.
Honan was fouled by Tipp full-back John Coghlan in the scramble which followed the forward's initial effort but Logue saved the Premier County's bacon with a good save from Conlon's penalty.
Tipp drew level by the 20th minute -- 0-9 to 1-6 -- as they found scores much easier to come by after finding a rhythm. Two minutes later, Tipp moved ahead for the first time in the game and after gaining the whip hand, they pressed on the gas and scored a wonder goal four minutes before half-time.
Seamus Hennessy drilled the ball towards O'Meara on the edge of the Clare square and the menacing full-forward's dinked handpass set up Michael Heffernan for a superb first-time finish.
Scorers -- Tipperary: M Heffernan 1-3, P Murphy, S Hennessy (0-1 pen, 0-2f, 0-1 '65') 0-5 each, J O'Dwyer, S Carey 0-3 each, N McGrath 0-2, B O'Meara 0-1. Clare: C McGrath 1-8 (0-7f), E Hayes 0-4, D Honan 0-3, J Conlon, F Kennedy 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY -- J Logue; M Cahill, J Coghlan, K O'Gorman; J Barry, Padraic Maher, B Maher; S Hennessy, N McGrath; S Carey, Patrick Maher, P Murphy; M Heffernan, B O'Meara, J O'Dwyer. Subs: K Morris for O'Dwyer (60).
CLARE -- D Tuohy; D Nash, C Chaplin, J Gunning; P O'Connor, C Morey, L Markham; N O'Connell, S Collins; P Vaughan, J Conlon, E Hayes; F Kennedy, D Honan, C McGrath. Subs: D O'Halloran for Vaughan (h-t), S Golden for Collins (55).
Ref -- C McAllister (Cork).