Hurling & Camogie

Clare beat Tipp to set up League final showdown with Kilkenny

The Cats had booked their spot with victory over Limerick on Saturday

Clare’s Aidan McCarthy and Tipperary’s Craig Morgan
Clare’s Aidan McCarthy and Tipperary’s Craig Morgan Clare’s Aidan McCarthy tackles Tipperary’s Craig Morgan during yesterday’s Division One semi-final in Portlaoise PICTURE: SPORTSFILE (John Sheridan / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

Allianz Hurling League Division 1 semi-finals

Clare 1-24 Tipperary 2-13

Kilkenny 3-17 Limerick 1-15

CLARE and Kilkenny upset the odds to set up a League final in a fortnight with eight-point victories over Tipperary and Limerick at the weekend.

A blistering start and a one-sided finish saw the Banner past a below-par Tipp side 1-24 to 2-13 at Laois Hire O’Moore Park yesterday.

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

By contrast, Tipp had 19 wides including nine from frees via four different takers. Jason Forde (four), Gearoid O’Connor, Sean Ryan (two each), and Willie Connors (one) could never find their range.

With the wind at their backs, Clare stormed out of the traps, with eight unanswered points in the first 11 minutes with two inside 60 seconds from rising star Keith Smyth.

Before long, there were two goals in the space of a minute. Tipp were back within three as Dan McCormack’s superb pass picked out Jake Morris for his fifth major in five games.

But he was the only starting forward to do real damage as Fitzgerald responded by rippling the roof of the net straight from the puck-out and Clare led 1-14 to 1-7 at half-time.

Half-time substitute Sean Hayes scored a goal within 13 seconds of his introduction and fellow subs Alan Tynan and Sean Kenneally helped to cut the deficit to two but Tipp would be outscored by 0-8 to 0-2 in the final 25 minutes.

On Saturday night, Kilkenny’s goal threat and gritty 14-man performance into the second-half gale ended Limerick’s Hurling League reign by 3-17 to 1-15 at SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The Treaty defence was opened up in a manner rarely seen never seen with first-half goals from Eoin Cody, Luke Hogan, and evergreen man-of-the-match TJ Reid, who finished with 1-8.

It had all started so well for the champions with the first 1-2 of the game, the goal coming from Aaron Gillane. However, Kilkenny struck back with the next 2-3 in just four minutes and added a third goal before the break.

All three came from long direct balls into one-on-one match-ups in the full-forward line. All three originated from Limerick puckouts.

For the first two, Jordan Molloy won possession as they forced Nickie Quaid long. For the third, John Donnelly tracked Cian Lynch into his own half to turn over the sliotar.

Cody and Reid had the beating of Nash and Aaron Costello and Paddy Deegan’s pinpoint deliveries gave his forwards every advantage for two of those majors.

Adrian Mullen and Martin Keoghan were denied further goals by Quaid saves. Reid had a free unwittingly blocked on the line by Nash’s ankle and Owen Wall hit the side-netting when hooked by Sean Finn.

Limerick trailed 3-6 to 1-6 at half-time, although Cody was sent off for a second booking right after the break.

Having been outscored by 0-6 to 0-5 in the 18 minutes against 14 men, Limerick lost Peter Casey who saw red when drawing blood as he flicked his hurl back at Deegan in an off-the-ball altercation.

Kilkenny’s victory was secure from there.