Clare may have needed a touch of good fortune to dump Tipperary out of the championship, but against a much-fancied Limerick in Cusack Park, they were masters of their own destiny and thoroughly deserve a Munster final rematch against the holders Cork in Thurles on Sunday, July 1st.
Munster Senior Hurling Ch. Round 5: Clare 0-26 Limerick 0-15
The new round-robin format has certainly suited Clare this year. After a rocky start against Cork, they easily overcame Waterford, beat Tipp in Thurles for the first time in 90 years and comprehensively dismissed Limerick’s young pretenders with impressive style.
Prior to the game, Limerick had topped the group of five and needed only a draw to book their place in the final, but on the day this Clare side was never going to surrender at home in front of a capacity 18,809 crowd.
Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg Inis). protects the ball from Richie English
For most of the first half, it was the visiting Limerick fans who were most vocal, but Clare responded with vigour when their own supporters found their voice.
Clare will be hoping that the crowd will get behind them in the Munster final, especially given that fewer than 1,000 travelled to the first round game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Peter Duggan proved inspirational with a personal tally of 13 points, including eleven frees. John Conlon put in another huge performance while once again Shane O’Donnell worked his socks off. None would begrudge Jamie Shanahan his man of the match accolade as the Sixmilebridge man marshalled the defence, covering as a sweeper, to snuff out any half-chance Limerick might have for a goal.
Clare were first on the scoreboard when Duggan made no mistake from the 4th minute free. John Conlon and Tom Morrissey exchanged points before Duggan notched up his second free.
Limerick’s cornerback Sean Finn retired through injury and was replaced by Tom Condon. Both sides scored from frees through Dowling and Duggan. By the 16th minute, Dowling had another free that was cancelled out by Colm Galvin at the other end.
Caimin Morey was forced out by injury to be replaced by David Fitzgerald who scored a fine individual point from play following a terrific solo run down the wing. Soon after he added a second to stretch Clare’s into a 0-7 to 0-4 lead.
Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin) and Mike Casey contest a loose ball.
Kyle Hayes and John Conlon exchanged scores before Duggan slotted over his 4th free. With just over half an hour played Jamie Shanahan scored a massive point from play.
The game’s most talked about incident happened as David Reidy collided accidentally with Diarmaid Byrnes. The Limerick man hit the ground, soccer-style, like a ton of bricks and his team-mate Tom Condon struck Reidy in the midriff with the butt of his hurl.
Referee James Owens had a clear line of vision to the collision and showed no hesitation in producing a red card for Condon. He then ran downfield to take up his position before being called back by an umpire. Following a brief consultation, he then issued another red card to a very perplexed-looking David Reidy.
With both teams down to 14-men, they were called in for the half-time break after five minutes of extra time with Clare leading by 0-13 to 0-9.
Limerick got to play with the breeze in the second half but Clare didn’t give them a chance to settle on the ball while Shanahan swept up any potential threat.
Once again Duggan opened the scoring from a placed ball before Tom Morrissey and Tony Kelly exchanged points. Further points from Kelly, John Conlon and Duggan stretched Clare’s lead to 0-17 to 0-12.
Another Tom Morrissey point in the 56th minute proved to be Limerick’s last score. Peter Duggan scored from play to put Clare 5 points clear.
After four minutes of added time, referee James Owens called it quits leaving Clare worthy winners and looking forward to another Munster final opportunity against Cork.
The GAA’s Central Hearings Committee has cleared David Reidy of any wrong-doing and he is now available for selection against Cork in the Munster final on Sunday.
Clare: Donal Tuohy; Jack Browne, Patrick O’Connor, David McInerney; Seadna Morey, Conor Cleary, Jamie Shanahan (0-01); Colm Galvin (0-01), Cathal Malone; Peter Duggan (0-13, 0-10f, 0-01’65), Tony Kelly (0-05, 0-01’65), David Reidy; Podge Collins, John Conlon (0-04), Shane O’Donnell. Subs: David Fitzgerald (0-02) for Morey (14, inj), Jason McCarthy for Malone (54), Ian Galvin for Fitzgerald (61), Conor McGrath for O’Donnell (65), Mikey O’Neill for Collins (70)
Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes (0-01), Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey (0-01); Darragh O’Donovan (0-01, 0-01s/l), Cian Lynch (0-01); Gearoid Hegarty (0-01), Kyle Hayes (0-01), Tom Morrissey (0-03); Seamus Flanagan (0-01), Shane Dowling (0-04, 0-04f), Graeme Mulcahy. Subs: Tom Condon for Finn (13, inj), Richie McCarthy for Mulcahy (HT), Aaron Gillane (0-01) for Flanagan (49), David Dempsey for Hegarty (56), Barry Nash for English (64)
Referee: James Owens (Wexford).