Venue: Cusack Park.
Goals proved decisive as Clare suffered another setback going down by five points to rivals Tipperary in the Banner’s first home match of the year.
Despite failing to get the right result, Clare showed an improved performance which inspires some bit of confidence. However it is a results based industry and Clare now sit on the bottom of Division 1A with no points and a relegation battle looks to be on the cards for Davy Fitzgerald’s charges.
Eamon O’Shea’s Tipperary outfit are now positioned in fourth place in the League table but are level on points with top placed Cork. The main aim for the Premier County in this year’s NHL campaign has been to qualify for the knockout stages and they’re still on course for that, but nothing is guaranteed as they play hosts to Kilkenny in the next round and follow that with a visit Leeside to take on the Rebels.
Tipp started the stronger and ran into an early three point lead with ten minutes played. Clare took a while to put their stamp on proceedings with some scores from Newmarket-on-Fergus man Colin Ryan steadying the ship.
With half-time fast approaching, Tipp racked up three scores in injury time to give them a 0-13 to 0-09 heading in at the interval.
Clare were beginning to get on top following the resumption and were only three points adrift when Loughmore/Castleiney’s Noel McGrath evaded both Paul Flanagan and Patrick Kelly to get the game’s first goal and extend Tipp’s lead to six with forty four minutes played.
To their credit the Banner as always under Fitzgerald refused to give up and cut the gap to two points. Ballyea’s Tony Kelly came close to putting Clare in front but Darren Gleeson pulled off a stunning save to deny the UL student with fifty five minutes on the clock.
Trailing by two points, it seemed as if Clare were going to get a share of the spoils if not more. That was until Seamus Callanan offloaded to the onrushing James Woodlock whose shot deflected off the stick of Clare custodian Patrick Kelly before hitting the net to secure the win for Tipp.
Tipp’s star men included Michael Breen, Pádraic Maher and John McGrath, their ability to take their scores and crucially find the back of the net were vital to their victory. In their most encouraging performance of the NHL, Clare’s most prominent men were Conor Ryan, Tony Kelly and David McInerney.
Darren Gleeson (Portroe)
Conor O’Mahony (Newport)
Conor O’Brien (Éire Óg Annacarty)
Cathal Barrett (Holycross-Ballycahill)
Michael Breen (Ballina) (0-02)
Padraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields)
Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields)
Kieran Bergin (Killenaule)
James Woodlock (Drom & Inch) (1-00)
Conor Kenny (Borris-Ileigh)
John O’Dwyer (Killenaule) (0-04 2f)
Niall O’Meara (Kilruane McDonaghs)
Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney) (1-00)
Seamus Callanan (Drom & Inch) (0-07 5f)
John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney) (0-05).
Subs: Jason Forde (Silvermines) (0-01) for Kenny (50), Gearoid Ryan (Templederry/Kenyons) for O’Meara (57), Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch) for N McGrath (61), Shane Bourke (JK Brackens) for J McGrath (66), Thomas Stapleton (Templederry/Kenyons) for Woodlock (73).
Patrick Kelly (Inagh-Kilnamona)
Paul Flanagan (Ballyea)
Cian Dillon (Crusheen)
David McInerney (Tulla)
Brendan Bugler (Whitegate)
Conor Ryan (Cratloe)
Patrick O’Connor (Tubber)
Patrick Donnellan (O’Callaghan’s Mills)
Colm Galvin (Clonlara)
John Conlon (Clonlara)
Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge)
Conor McGrath (Cratloe)
Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)
Colin Ryan (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
Subs: Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones) for Golden (HT), Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge) for Donnellan (62), Conor Cleary (Kilmaley) for Bugler (65).
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).