Shane Stapleton reflects on the Munster Under-20 hurling championship draw between Clare and Tipperary at Cusack Park.
Clare 0-20 Tipperary 0-20
Patrick Crotty scored a levelling point with the final puck of the game as Clare drew with Tipperary in the Munster Under-20 hurling championship round 1.
Both sides had it won and lost at different stages in the final minutes, with Keith Smith putting the Banner ahead before Jack Leamy and then Eddie Ryan put the Premier in front by the 64th minute.
Amid frenetic scenes, Clare stayed calm and fashioned one last chance for Scariff man Crotty, whose storming second half was key to his side claiming a point.
Momentum swing wildly in the first half as Tipperary won the puckout breaks early on, and could have established a decent lead.
Sean Kenneally was influential from the get-go, while Peter McGarry burst through the Banner half-back line with intent, only for his handpass to be cut out at the crucial moment.
From 0-2 apiece, Clare pushed up on the puckouts and seemed to unnerve the visitors who were picked off on a number of occasions with their restarts.
David Kennedy, Keith Smith and Jack O’Neill all looked dangerous, while Sean Rynne, Conor Whelan and Daithi Lohan all began to influence the middle sector.
The hosts showed a nice mixture of playing the ball inside to the corners, with Rynne hitting a nice point after it was recycled by Kennedy, and not longer after a long ball to Smith was snapped and slotted over.
Joe Caesar and Kenneally then thundered into the game for the Premier, both physically and with their driving runs forward to win frees.
By the 22nd minute, matters were levelled at 0-10 apiece as Stephen Ferncombe knocked over yet another free for Tipp, with the Banner too often coughing up deserved frees cheaply.
It was Tipp’s turn to spoil Clare’s short puckouts, but Jack Leamy sent a goaled effort directly at Aaron Shanahan when he might have done better.
Seconds later, at the other, O’Neill forced his way past a couple of defenders to hit the net, but ultimately found goalkeeper EoIn Horgan in his way.
Tipp led 0-12 to 0-11 at half time, and again McGarry burned up the centre of the hosts’ defence but was hooked as he looked to clip the ball over.
The St Mary’s man was fortunate to escape with a yellow card for a frontal charge on O’Neill moments later, while Clare’s indiscipline in the tackle continued to be costly.
Eddie Ryan led the charge for Tipp throughout the second half in terms of winning ball and raising white flags, while Crotty shrugged off a quiet first period to make his mark thereafter.
Niall O’Farrell eventually levelled for Clare on 51 minutes while Oisin O’Donnell puts Clare ahead three minutes later.
With free-taker Ferncombe withdrawn, Leamy stepped up for his first free of the game on 57 minutes, but missed the target from the ’45.
He then pulled Horgan’s long free out of the sky to score a little while later, with Darragh McCarthy also scoring for the Premier.
Then came the frenetic finish. Both sides thought they had it, and then had to dig deep. Honours even, and both with plenty to play for.
Wednesday 29 March
Munster U20HC round 2
Limerick v Clare, TUS Gaelic Grounds, 7pm
Cork v Waterford, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 7pm
Thursday 5 April
Munster U20HC round 3
Cork v Tipperary, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 7.30pm