Allianz HL D1A: McGrath stars for terrific Tipperary
Allianz Hurling League Division 1A
TIPPERARY 0-28 CLARE 0-21
By Jackie Cahill at Semple Stadium, Thurles
Tipperary maintained their 100 per cent start to Division 1A of the Allianz Hurling League, as Michael Ryan’s charges scored a seven-point victory over Clare this afternoon at Semple Stadium.
In the battle between the reigning All-Ireland and League champions, it was Liam MacCarthy Cup holders Tipp, who claimed a merited win.
John McGrath was in excellent form, scoring five points from play and five frees in a 20-point haul, with John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer adding five from play.
But the worry for Tipp was the loss of three players to injury – 2016 captain Brendan Maher going off with a shoulder injury before half-time, with Niall O’Meara and Donagh Maher succumbing to head knocks in the second half.
With Tipperary having already used five subs, the loss of Donagh Maher left the Premier County with 14 men deep in stoppage time, but the points were secured.
Clare also suffered a massive injury setback of their own, as corner back Oisín O’Brien was carried off with suspected cruciate knee ligament damage.
Weather conditions weren’t overly-conducive to good hurling, but both sides served up some good passages of fare nonetheless, Tipp looking particularly fluent in patches.
The hosts had to come from behind to claim the points on offer, as Clare led by 0-11 to 0-10 at half-time.
Tipp, playing against the breeze in front of 7,254 spectators, started in blistering fashion and led by 0-7 to 0-2 before Clare took over, landing nine of the next 10 points on offer.
It was a period of play not without its collateral damage for Tipperary, as Brendan Maher suffered his injury while contesting possession on the Old Stand side of the field.
But early in the second half, Tipp did get a firm grip on proceedings, now playing with the breeze blowing towards the Town End.
They would win the second half by 18 points to 10, with O’Dwyer looking particularly good.
When the dust settled, former dual player Steven O’Brien had done his chances of long-term inclusion no harm at all with three points from play, a tally matched by Noel McGrath.
There was also a neat cameo from Kiladangan’s Paul Flynn, who came off the bench to score two points.
The man of the match award went to Tomás Hamill, pushed into full-back duty when James Barry was ruled out through illness, with Pádraic Maher coming into the starting line-up at left-half-back.
Hamill tied up Clare dangerman Aron Shanagher but the visitors did have an impressive first half showing from John Conlon, whose sniping led to Seamus Kennedy, man of the match for Tipp against Waterford last time out, being taken off.
Podge Collins was also good in a roving role out around the middle third, picking off four points from play, while sub Ian Galvin scored three points after he was introduced.
Scorers for Tipperary: John McGrath 0-10 (5fs), John O’Dwyer 0-5, Steven O’Brien and Noel McGrath 0-3 each, Paul Flynn 0-2, Ronan Maher (f), Brendan Maher, Niall O’Meara, Sean Curran and Dan McCormack 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: David Reidy 0-6 (6fs), John Conlon and Podge Collins 0-4 each, Ian Galvin 0-3, Seadna Morey, Aaron Cunningham, Cathal McInerney and Jason McCarthy 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: Darragh Mooney; Joe O’Dwyer, Tomás Hamill, Donagh Maher; Seamus Kennedy, Ronan Maher, Pádraic Maher; Brendan Maher, Barry Heffernan; Steven O’Brien, Niall O’Meara, Noel McGrath; Aidan McCormack, John McGrath, John O’Dwyer.
Subs: Willie Ryan for Kennedy (31), Michael Breen for B Maher (inj., 34), Dan McCormack for O’Meara (inj., 40), Paul Flynn for A McCormack (56), Sean Curran for Heffernan (67).
CLARE: Patrick Kelly; Oisín O’Brien, Cian Dillon, Seadna Morey; Brendan Bugler, Conor Cleary, David Fitzgerald; Jamie Shanahan, David Reidy; Podge Collins, John Conlon, Cathal Malone; Cathal McInerney, Aron Shanagher, Aron Cunningham.
Subs: Shane McNamara for O’Brien (inj., 53), Ian Galvin for Cunningham (59), Jason McCarthy for Shanahan (59), Peter Duggan for Shanagher (67), Pat Donnellan for Reidy (69).
REEFERE: Barry Kelly (Westmeath).