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Clare's Darren Keane in action. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

Banner go down fighting in Munster Under 20

Munster Under 20 Football Championship Phase 2 Round 2
Tipperary 1-10 Clare 0-07

Clare finally exited the Munster Under 20 Football Championship but not without a fight as they went toe-to-toe with hosts Tipperary in Ardfinnan.
In what was a winner-takes-all showdown to keep their slender final hopes alive, the neighbours produced a tense encounter that saw only a kick of the ball between the sides for the majority.
Indeed, despite Tipperary continually shooting themselves in the foot in front of the posts in a wind-assisted second period, only a goal separated the sides by the hour mark before a 14 man Clare finally had to succumb to three injury-time points from Tipprary substitutes Daithi Hogan (2) and Paddy O’Keeffe.
While the result was fully merited, Clare can be much more satisfied with their performance than seven days earlier when merely attempting to contain holders Kerry in Quilty.
Michael Neylon’s side were far more combative as they effectively disrupted Tipperary’s kick-outs and were near flawless in their own to take the game to their hosts from the outset.
One major dearth was a marquee forward such as Orrin Jones as while Conor Fennell and Tom Curran scored impressive first half braces, they needed more assistance in the scoring department especially from play.
That said, the Banner still held the whip hand at 0-5 to 0-4 by the 26th minute before the narrative of the tie was completely flipped on its head with a sucker-punch Tipperary goal in the next passage of play.
It stemmed from a driving Joseph Lawrence run and handpass across the square that was initially flicked away by Conor Kearney, only for Michael Freaney to pounce and toe-poke the rebound to the net.
With Tipperary taking a 1-5 to 0-5 advantage into the second period with the wind to come, it seemed a long way back for the Banner.
Credit to the visitors though as they scored the only point of the third quarter through Darren Keane to keep the derby on a knive-edge.
Tipperary meanwhile kicked five wides including a Shane Ryan goal chance that he dragged wide of the far post with the goal at his mercy. Aaron Kelly blocked a Tommy O’Connor shot while Orrin Jones had a goal disallowed for overcarrying as Clare lived dangerously.
And yet for all theor huffing and puffing, even with a harsh second yellow for impressive full-back Sean McAllister, Clare obstinately kept in touch with a 59th minute Keane free to keep the deficit to three at 1-7 to 0-7.
With Clare pushing increasingly forward in search of a lifeline, it did inevitably leave holes at the back, with the pacy Hogan capitalising to ensure that Tipperary still have an outside chance of a first Munster Under 20 Final place in three years when travelling to Tralee next Wednesday.
Essentially it would need a Tipperary victory over defending champions and also their neighbours Clare to do them a favour by getting something out of Supervalu Páirc Ui Chaoimh.

Tipperary: Robbie McGrath (Galtee Rovers); Jack O’Neill (Ardfinnan), Eoin O’Connell (Loughmore-Castleiney), Mark Corcoran (Clonmel Commercials); Darragh O’Brien (Aherlow), Sean O’Meara (Grangemockler/Ballyneale), Charlie King (Ballina); Joe Higgins (Clonmel Commercials), Eoin Doocey (Arravale Rovers); Michael Freaney (Kilsheelan/Kilcash), Joseph Lawrence (Rockwell Rovers), Thomas Charles (Clonmel Commercials); Shane Ryan (Ardfinnan), Tommy O’Connor (Kilsheelan/Kilcash), Orrin Jones (Arravale Rovers)
Subs: Daithi Hogan (St. Patrick’s) for O’Connor (40), Paddy O’Keeffe (Moyle Rovers) for Higgins (43), Ben Carey (Ballylooby/Castlegrace) for Charles (50), Niall O’Connor (Clonmel Óg) for Lawrence (57), Killian Butler (Moyle Rovers) for O’Connell (63)

Scorers: Orrin Jones (0-3, 2f); Michael Freaney (1-0); Paddy O’Keeffe, Daithi Hogan (2f) (0-2 each); Shane Ryan (f), Robbie McGrath (’45), Darragh O’Brien (0-1 each)

Clare: Cian Corry (Killimer); Conor Kearney (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Sean McAllister (Clondegad), Aaron Kelly (Wolfe Tones); Michael Kelly (Lissycasey), Odhran Cunningham (Killimer), Josh Moloney (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Joshua Vaughan (Ennistymon), Eanna Rouine (Ennistymon); Padraic O’Dwyer (St Breckan’s), Sean McMahon (Banner), Darren Keane (Lissycasey); Tom Curran (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), Daire Culligan (Lissycasey), Conor Fennell (Kilrush Shamrocks)
Subs: Luke Pyne for Kelly (HT), Sean Neylon (St Joseph’s Miltown) for O’Dwyer (43), Colm Meaney (Clondegad) for Culligan (45), Caoimhin O’Donovan (Corofin) for McMahon (50), Evan Cahill (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Moloney (60, inj)

Scorers: Darren Keane (0-3, 2f); Conor Fennell, Tom Curran (1m) (0-2 each)

Referee: Seamus Mulvihill (Kerry)

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