Allianz Football League Div 2 Rd 7
By Eoghan Cormican
A 70th minute Keelan Sexton goal preserved Clare’s Division 2 status and, in the process, condemned both Cork and Tipperary to Division 3 football next spring.
After a lightning start to the second-half where the visitors to Thurles kicked 1-5 without reply to move into a 2-13 to 1-13 lead by the 43th minute, Clare would fail to score in the ensuing 17 minutes, during which Liam McGrath, Steven O’Brien and Conor Sweeney combined to throw over six points on the bounce as Tipperary resumed pole position – 1-19 to 2-13 – as the clock neared the red.
But 20 seconds from the end of regulation time, Cian O’Dea did the groundwork which put Keelan Sexton through and after he sold the necessary dummy, the half-time sub rolled the ball past Evan Comerford to level matters.
The Banner kicked on in injury-time, long-serving stalwarts Gary Brennan and David Tubridy, fittingly, producing the winning scores to see them survive in Division 2 for another year.
Tipperary, with a slight wind behind them in the opening half, led 1-13 to 1-8 at the break, having outscored their guests by 0-8 to 0-1 from the 25th minute onwards. Conor Sweeney, Liam Casey (0-2), Liam McGrath (0-2, one free), Steven O’Brien and Kevin Fahey (0-2) all found the target during this period to set Clare a deficit of five to chase upon the change of ends.
Sweeney, who kicked the opening point of this sequence, was near untouchable during the opening half, tallying 1-6 (1-5 from play). Indeed, he was the sole Tipperary contributor on the scoresheet for the opening 25 minutes. The Premier captain had the ball in the Clare goal as early as the 90th second, palming Philip Austin’s pass to the net. He followed this with a point, but then Clare took charge, reeling off 1-3 on the hop. Gavin Cooney delivered their green flag, taking advantage of a Gary Brennan point effort which came back down off the post.
The first-half played out to a pattern of one side enjoying a mini-period of dominance, followed by the other side enjoying same and then the pendulum swinging back the other direction again. Both sides had spells which produced four unanswered points before the hosts put together that run of scores which had them five to the good at the break.
Scorers for Clare: E Cleary (0-4, 0-2 frees); D Tubridy (1-3); G Cooney, K Sexton (1-1 each); G brennan, J Malone (0-2 each); S O’Donoghue, C O’Connor (0-1 each).
Scorers for Tipperary: C Sweeney (1-8, 0-2 frees); L McGrath (0-4, 0-2 frees); L Casey, S O’Brien, K Fahey (0-2 each)
Clare: R Eyres; K Harnett, C Brennan, G Kelly; S Collins, D Ryan, C O’Dea; G Brennan, C O’Connor; E Cleary, S O’Donoghue, J Malone; G Cooney, D Tubridy, C Ó hAinifein.
Subs: K Sexton for Ryan (HT); K Malone for Cooney (63); D Masterson for Ó hAinifein (69)
Tipperary: E Comerford; B Fox, E Moloney, J Meagher; A Campbell, P Maher, D Brennan; S O’Brien, J Kennedy; P Austin, L Casey, L McGrath; M Quinlivan, C Sweeney, K Fahey.
Subs: J Feehan for Maher, L Boland for Austin (both 60); D O’Meara for McGrath (69)
Referee: S Curley (Galway).