Munster Minor Hurling Championship Final
Tipperary 1-22 Clare 0-25
Heartbreak for Clare in their brave Munster Minor Final bid as Tipperary were the more clinical side in a historic penalty shoot-out to dramatically garner their first provincial crown in four years in the TUS Gaelic Grounds on Wednesday evening, writes Eoin Brennan.
Following a thrilling end-to-end 80 minute showdown that was level on no fewer than eleven occasions, Clare were the ones to force extra-time with virtually the last puck while it was Tipperary that ensured that a first ever penalty contest would decide the Munster honours.
Tipperary scored all three while Clare failed to hit the target in what was another devastating penalty showing to add to the senior footballers’ provincial woes less than a fortnight ago against Limerick.
In contrast to the opening tie between the sides, it was Tipperary, despite facing into the conditions, that had the better of the opening stages as Damien Corbett’s guiding frees were aided by a strong half-back unit that raided for three points.
Tipperary’s score just seemed to come easier than Clare who appeared far more nervy than any of their previous outings.
However, the scorching performance of full-back Eoghan Gunning to not only nullify Tipperary’s main threat Tom Delaney but inspirationally drive out with possession. He was matched by fellow last liners Fionan Treacy and John Cahill as Clare fought hard to stem the tide.
Goalkeeper Mark Sheedy also pulled an excellent early double save as Clare clung to a 0-3 to 0-1 advantage by the tenth minute. That sighting on goal was a warning sign that the Banner failed to heed as Tipperary grabbed the next five points, two from freetaker Damien Corbett to snatch the whip hand at 0-6 to 0-3.
Through Jack O’Neill and Oisin Whelan, Clare would twice make a full recovery but by the break Ciaran Foley point had inched Tipperary 0-10 to 0-9 in front.
A rejuvenated Clare were much more potent on the resumption and seemed back at their composed best when outscoring their neighbours by 0-8 to 0-3, led by the driving runs of Jack O’Neill at 0-17 to 0-13.
With Tipperary also losing wing-back Sam O’Farrell to a second yellow card, Clare looked to be firmly in control entering the final ten minutes. Nothing could be further from the truth however as 14 man Tipperary got a major spark from the bench starting with an emphatic Sam Rowan equalising goal in the 53rd minute at 0-17 to 1-14.
Fellow replacements Darragh McCarthy (2) and Cathal English also chipped in with scores as Tipperary got their noses in front at the perfect time. However as the game entered the fifth minute of additional time, it was Clare substitute Dylan Keane Hayes that provided the most crucial score of the night when firing over from the right wing to force extra-time at 1-18 to 0-21.
The sides were still deadlocked at half-time in extra-time while a brace of Oisin Whelan placed balls were agonisingly pegged back by a never-say-die Tipperary as Paddy McCormack cooly converted a 50 metre free at the death to send the final to penalties.
It was a cruel way to complete a final, particularly at underage level. However, Clare would be left utterly deflated as Tipperary soared to the silverware, leaving the Banner to have to regroup for the All-Ireland Quarter-Final series in a fortnight’s time.
Clare: Mark Sheedy (Sixmilebridge); Fionan Treacy (Éire Óg), Eoghan Gunning (Broadford), John Cahill (Clooney-Quin); Sean McMahon (Smith O’Brien’s), James Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona), Riain McNamara (Cratloe); Piaras Ó Sé (Ruan), Matthew O’Halloran (Sixmilebridge); James Organ (Corofin), Jack O’Neill (Clooney-Quin), Michael Collins (Clonlara); Cian Neylon (Kilmaley), Oisin Whelan (Clarecastle), Sam Scanlan (Clooney-Quin)
Subs: Dylan Keane Hayes (Kilmaley) for Collins (52), Eoin O’Regan (Éire Óg) for O’Halloran (56), Fred Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona) for Neylon (59), Frankie Lyons (Ruan) for O’Regan (70), Neylon for Scanlan (77), Collins for Organ (80)
Scorers: Oisin Whelan (0-9, 8f, 1’65); Jack O’Neill, James Organ (0-4 each); Cian Neylon, Michael Collins (0-2 each); James Hegarty, Piaras Ó Sé, Sam Scanlan, Dylan Keane Hayes (0-1 each)
Tipperary: Eoin Horgan (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams); Chris O’Donnell (Ballylooby-Castlegrace), Aaron O’Halloran (Carrick Swans), Jack Quinlan (Fethard); Sam O’Farrell (Nenagh Éire Óg), Tadhg Sheehan (St Mary’s), Jack O’Callaghan (Portroe); Ciaran Foley (Borrisokane), Adam Daly (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams); Paddy Phelan (Upperchurch-Drombane), Joe Egan (Moycarkey-Borris), Conor Martin (Cappawhite); Paddy McCormack (Borris-Ileigh), Tom Delaney (Cahir), Damien Corbett (Gortnahoe-Glengoole)
Subs: Sam Rowan (CJ Kickhams Mullinahone) for Martin (45), Darragh McCarthy (Toomevara) for Corbett (49), Cathal English (Fr. Sheedy’s) for Foley (50), Jamie Ormond (JK Brackens) for Delaney (61), Delaney (ET), Evan Morris (Holycross-Ballycahill) for O’Donnell (70), Jack Hayes (Moycarkey-Borris) for Delaney (70), Martin for Rowan (77)
Scorers: Damien Corbett (0-5, 4f); Darragh McCarthy (1f), Paddy McCormack (1f) (0-3 each); Sam Rowan (1-0); Sam O’Farrell, Ciaran Foley, Joe Egan, Jack O’Callaghan (0-2 each); Conor Martin, Cathal English, Jamie Ormond (0-1 each)
Referee: Nicky Barry (Waterford)