What a game this was, 100 minutes of free-flowing hurling, stretched over 3 hours and finished with a historic free-taking competition with Limerick’s Colin Ryan ending our involvement in this year’s Allianz League.

Allianz Hurling League Div 1 Quarter Finals: Limerick 4-21 Clare 0-33. The sides were level after extra time: Limerick won free-taking competition 7-6.

Clare went from holding a comfortable nine-point lead to conceding four goals. In addition, Limerick struck close on 20 wides so there was little to suggest that it was hard luck for the Bannermen.
Knockout hurling arrived after two dead rubbers against Wexford and Waterford. The downside of losing these games was conceding a home quarter-final thus paving the way for the Shannonsiders to claim a last-four slot.
Conor McGrath had the opening score after giving Seán Finn the slip in the first minute, Tony Kelly hit a second from the Limerick puck-out. With less than two minutes played Colm Galvin was also on target for the perfect start.
Cian Lynch hit Limerick’s first score in the fifth minute to settle nerves before  Peter Duggan rifled over a long-range free and Tom Morrissey responded from play for John Kiely’s men.
Tony Kelly aims the ball between the posts despite the best efforts of Paul Browne and Kyle Hayes.

Tony Kelly aims the ball between the posts despite the best efforts of Paul Browne and Kyle Hayes.

Tony Kelly had a well-executed score after eight minutes before David Reidy added a smartly taken point to open a 0-6 to 0-2 lead.

Six minutes later Peter Duggan was on target after a foul on Shane O’Donnell. Gearoid Hegarty and Jack Browne were booked before Duggan converted another free as Clare stretched six clear after 20 minutes.
Another Duggan free moved Clare move ahead by 7 as their midfield were dominant. A 65 from Duggan followed by an excellent David Fitzgerald point had Clare nine clear in the 23rd minute.
Limerick got a huge boost against the run of play when Aaron Gillane’s speculative effort hit the net. A pointed free reduced the Limerick deficit to five with the game entering the final ten minutes of the opening half.
Gillane (free), Paul Browne and Tony Kelly added points to leave Clare 0-12 to 1-5 ahead. There were another four scores in the final five minutes of the half before Clare went in with a well-deserved 0-14 to 1-8 lead, Limerick were happy to be only three in arrears.
Aaron Gillane and Tony Kelly resumed the scoring within two minutes of the restart. Conor McGrath had the ball in the Clare net but was called back for overcarrying and seconds later Gillane’s free cut the margin to two scores.
Exchanges were tetchy as Gillane put the minimum between the sides before Tony Kelly and a Duggan free restored Clare’s three-point lead.  Limerick substitute Colin Ryan made an immediate impact with two points in a minute before David Reidy responded in the 53rd minute.
The game was turned on its head when Gillane doubled to the net for his second goal in the 55th minute as Clare, who were nine clear at the end of the first quarter, were now behind.
Shane O'Donnell takes ball in hand under pressure from Seán Finn.

Shane O’Donnell takes the ball in hand under pressure from Seán Finn.

Peter Duggan levelled proceedings only for Seamus Flanagan to hit back immediately. Once again Duggan drew parity as the game entered the final ten minutes and sent the Bannermen clear.

Limerick hit back hard and the visitors were left reeling when Pat Ryan hit the net in the 63rd minute. The home side led by a goal as Clare fought to get back into the game.
It was a testing time for Clare’s full-back line and indeed key members of the half-back line who looked in difficulty when under pressure.
Duggan dragged Clare back in front but that was until Limerick’s third goal arrived courtesy of substitute Pat Ryan to put the home side in front by 3-15 to 0-21.
Duggan somehow found another four points to bring his tally to 15-points and Clare were ahead in injury time before Colin Ryan forced extra time.
Clare were strongest in extra time with scores from Duggan and Kelly to lead by three in injury time. However, Diarmaid Byrnes stepped forward to blast a 21 metre free to the net and ensure more extra time – this time two periods of five minutes.
The excitement didn’t end there. Both teams remained level at halftime in the second spell of extra time and it appeared John Conlon would be Clare’s hero until a late, late free from Gillane left the sides level after 100 minutes – Limerick 4-21 Clare 0-33.
A historic free-taking competition ensued. After the first five frees were successfully hit over by both sides, Niall Deasy sent his effort wide in sudden death and Colin Ryan sent Limerick on to the league semi-final.
CLARE: Donal Touhy, Pat O’Connor, Conor Cleary, Jack Browne, Seadna Morey, David McInerney, David Fitzgerald (0-1), Colm Galvin (0-1), Tony Kelly (0-6), Cathal Malone,  John Conlon (0-2), David Reidy (0-2),  Conor McGrath (0-1), Peter Duggan (0-19) , Shane O’Donnell (0-1). SUBS: Ian Galvin for C Galvin, Cathal McInerney for McGrath,  Jamie Shanahan for Morey, Jason McCarthy for Reidy, Podge Collins for Malone,  Mike O’Neill for McInerney, Ryan Taylor for I Galvin, Michael O’Malley for Kelly, Niall Deasy for Collins.
LIMERICK: Nicky Quaid, Sean Finn, Seamus Hickey, Richie English, Diarmuid Byrnes (1-1), Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey, Paul Browne (0-1), Cian Lynch (0-1), Gearoid Hegarty (0-2),  Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey (0-1), Aaron Gillane (2-11), Seamus Flanagan(0-1), Barry Murphy. SUBS: Colin Ryan (0-3) for Browne, David Reidy for Hayes, Pat Ryan (1-0) for Hayes, Riche McCarthy for Hickey, Barry O’Connell for Hegarty, Oisin O’Reilly for Flanagan.
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway)