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Allianz HL D1 semi-final: Clare too good for Tipp

David Fitzgerald of Clare scores his side's goal during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 semi-final match between Clare and Tipperary at Laois Hire O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

David Fitzgerald of Clare scores his side's goal during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 semi-final match between Clare and Tipperary at Laois Hire O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Allianz Hurling League semi-final


By Stephen Barry at Laois Hire O'Moore Park

A blistering start and a one-sided finish saw Clare into an Allianz Hurling League final against Kilkenny after dismissing a below-par Tipperary side.

The Banner brought all the intensity and accuracy to this contest, with 1-3 from David Fitzgerald and perfect free-taking from Aidan McCarthy (0-8) and Mark Rodgers (0-3).

By contrast, Tipperary had 19 wides including nine from frees via four different takers as Jason Forde, Gearóid O’Connor, Willie Connors, and Seán Ryan could never find their range.

These sides made a combined 16 changes (Clare nine, Tipp seven) from their final-round victories over Offaly and Antrim.

All of Clare’s League games had been decided by no more than one score and there was no hint beforehand that this semi-final should be any different. What transpired on the field was poles apart.

With the wind at their backs, the Banner stormed out of the traps, necklacing eight unanswered points in the first 11 minutes. Keith Smyth landed the first two, Rodgers converted three frees, and Diarmuid Ryan, Darragh Lohan, and David Reidy all registered.

Rodgers almost added a goal but his shot skittled wide, while Forde fired a snapshot over at the other end.

Before long, there were two goals in the space of a minute. From a poor Conor Cleary effort dropped short, Tipp were back within three as Dan McCormack’s superb pass picked out Jake Morris. His brilliant control and finish netted his fifth major in five games.

But he was the only starting forward to do real damage here as Clare thrived off of Éibhear Quilligan’s puck-outs. From the restart, David Fitzgerald brought down the sliotar and made a beeline for goal, rippling the roof of the net. Their first goal since the League opener against Cork made it 1-9 to 1-3.

John Conlon appeared lucky to avoid a second yellow card for a foul on Forde. Although he slotted that one, Tipp were having an off day from frees. Forde missed three of his seven before O’Connor took over but he misfired both his attempts before the break.

Clare lost their free-taker Rodgers for a concussion assessment but McCarthy took over in a seamless transition.

Points from McCormack and Morris still brought the gap back to seven by the interval, 1-14 to 1-7.

Seán Hayes was one of two half-time subs, alongside Alan Tynan, and before his name was announced over the public address, he had a goal. Conor Bowe drove forward from the throw-in and only 13 seconds had elapsed when Hayes hit the net.

Tynan added a superb solo point off the hurl, another sub Seán Kenneally scored with his first touch, and Connors landed a monster from midfield to narrow the deficit to a pair, 1-16 to 2-11.

But while McCarthy continued Clare’s perfect record from placed balls, Forde, Connors, and Seán Ryan missed one more each. The Banner had seven of the next seven points with Fitzgerald adding a brace.

The game fizzled out from there, although Kenneally flicked a goal chance wide and Morris was sent off for a second yellow card deep in stoppage time.

Scorers for Clare: Aidan McCarthy 0-8 (6f, 1 65); David Fitzgerald 1-3; Mark Rodgers, David Reidy 0-3 each; Keith Smyth 0-2; Adam Hogan, Diarmuid Ryan, Cian Galvin, Darragh Lohan, Cathal Malone 0-1 each.

Scorers for Tipperary: Jason Forde 0-6 (5f); Jake Morris 1-2; Seán Hayes 1-0; Willie Connors, Dan McCormack, Seán Kenneally, Seán Ryan (f), Alan Tynan 0-1 each.

CLARE: Éibhear Quilligan; Conor Leen, Conor Cleary, Adam Hogan; Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, Cian Galvin; Cathal Malone, Darragh Lohan; David Fitzgerald, David Reidy, Peter Duggan; Keith Smyth, Mark Rodgers, Ian Galvin.

Subs: Aidan McCarthy for Rodgers (22-f-t, temp), Séadna Morey for Lohan (47-54, temp), Shane Meehan for Smyth (52), Morey for Conlon (56), Seán Rynne for I Galvin (63), Rory Hayes for Hogan (66), Patrick Crotty for Reidy (70+2).

TIPPERARY: Barry Hogan; Craig Morgan, Ronan Maher, Bryan O’Mara; Dan McCormack, Robert Byrne, Michael Breen; Willie Connors, Conor Bowe; Conor Stakelum, Gearóid O’Connor, Darragh Stakelum; Jake Morris, Patrick Maher, Jason Forde.

Subs: Alan Tynan for D Stakelum (h-t), Seán Hayes for P Maher (h-t), Seán Kenneally for C Stakelum (43), Johnny Ryan for Bowe (55), Seán Ryan for O’Connor (61).

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway).