Clare’s thirteen game winning streak in the U21 grade came to a devastating end as Limerick claimed the Munster title for a seventh time.
Venue: Cusack Park
Having held a two point lead at half-time the general consensus around Cusack Park was that Clare would push on in the second half to complete a four-in-a-row but that push never materialised instead it was a mere prod as Limerick outscored them 0-12 0-07 in the second half to take the spoils in an exciting contest.
Na Piarsaigh’s David Dempsey was first off the mark with the tie less than a minute old as he plucked the sliotar in the air from a David McCarthy puckout and shot straight between the posts. The resulting puckout from Keith Hogan was won by Cian Lynch who passed to Darragh O’Donovan and he put Limerick two up.
Shane Gleeson got Clare up and running on the second minute having been on the receiving end of an Ian Galvin pass for their first white flag. A great delivery from Ben O’Gorman found Shane O’Donnell with plenty of room to manoeuvre and the Éire Óg man turned on to his right side to level matters on the fourth minute. Shane Gleeson and Bobby Duggan added further points to give Clare a two point advantage with six minutes on the clock.
Limerick replied with six unanswered scores to overturn the gap to a four point lead in their favour. Ronan Lynch hit the first four of these scores from placed balls. Kilmallock’s Robbie Hanley made the most of a Barry O’Connell interception from Shane Gleeson as did David Dempsey when Shane O’Brien struck the sliotar straight to him by splitting the posts.
A quick puckout from Hogan landed in the hand of Ben O’Gorman with the Wolfe Tones man handpassing to Eoin Quirke and he pointed from the middle of the field. Conor Cleary caught the subsequent puckout passed to Kevin Hehir who saw a roaming Bobby Duggan and the Clarecastle made no mistake and was on target two minutes later from a free.
Doora/Barefield’s David Conroy finally got the Clare crowd to test their vocal chords twenty five minutes in as the midfielder added an inspirational score which was created by a bat down from Aidan McGuane along with a pass from Ian Galvin. Galvin shoved Clare in front on the twenty sixth minute with a point of his own.
Cian Lynch opened his account a minute later after shooting with time on his hands in the middle of the park to equalise. Ian Galvin and Ronan Lynch swapped scores before points from Gleeson and Duggan left the Banner with a two point advantage at the break.
Clonlara’s Ian Galvin made the most of an excellent Shane O’Donnell handpass and this was followed by a wonderful sideline cut from Stephen Ward to increase Clare’s lead to four points but they would go the next eleven minutes without a score.
Ronan Lynch was on target with the next five scores to put Limerick one point ahead. Three of these came from frees with Lynch’s movement off the ball and reading of the game along with work out the field from Cian Lynch and Diarmaid Byrnes creating the points from play.
Freetakers Bobby Duggan and Ronan Lynch traded scores to leave the Treaty County one point clear with forty seven minutes on the clock. Colin Ryan and Eoin Quirke both added points for their respective teams shortly after with passes from Cian Lynch and Aidan McGuane assisting them in their efforts.
Keith Hogan was called upon when Senior star Cian Lynch glided through the heart of the Clare defence with ease but the agile Clooney/Quin forced a 65 which Ronan Lynch stuck between the posts. Tom Morrissey made the most of a mishit clearance from Ian Galvin as the Ahane got his first score of the day on the fifty third minute and this was followed by another Ronan Lynch point.
The reigning champions fought back with efforts from Galvin and Duggan which lowered the gap to two points with two minutes of normal time remaining. Doon’s Pat Ryan was picked out by a Cian Lynch pass and he made no mistake to put the visitors firmly in the driving seat. Michael O’Malley brought the distance back to two only for Jack Kelliher to point with his first touch of the game just like the semi-final to secure Limerick’s seventh Munster U21 Hurling title.
Clare defeated Waterford because they showed an immense workrate. They didn’t match that when it came to the final as Limerick showed a greater desire on the day. Physically Clare were inferior to their opponents, not once was a Limerick player put on his backside while it did happen to the Banner men and it gave the visitors a massive lift. The puckout tactic utilised has to come into question as it put Clare’s defence under pressure immediately and Keith Hogan was flawless from play but was let down by the system he had to adhere to.
At times Donal Moloney’s men took too much of the ball but Clare’s running game did work on several occasions when things were going well. The Clare crowd getting agitated over this issue during the matches didn’t help matters but when it broke down it was frustrating to watch. Limerick incorporated a two man full-forward line and Clare struggled to cope with it and they responded by fouling which was punished by Ronan Lynch who got nine points from frees. They faded in the second half as they failed to supply Shane O’Donnell with enough possession and an attacker of his calibre needs to be brought into the game at all costs.
When they reflect on the year there will be more positives than negatives for Clare. The only negative being the result of this game. Ten of the starting fifteen are underage next year and this experience will certainly stand to them. David Conroy got through an amount of work at midfield while Shane O’Donnell when supplied with ball caused trouble.
John Kiely and his management team did their homework and got an outstanding result because of it. They deployed Cian Lynch as a roaming third midfielder and he swept up break after break, although the Patrickswell man only got one point he was involved in some shape or form with the majority of Limerick scores. With a lack of space around the middle third it ensured it put Clare under pressure and limited the amount of ball they hit into their attack.
Limerick learned more from their semi-final outing than Clare did when beating Waterford. Kiely’s men found out that shooting from distance wasn’t their strong point and cut down on the reckless shooting. They also had the self-belief from the semi-final that they could hold on if things were going against them, this was evident at the beginning of the second half when they found themselves four points in arrears but they clawed their way back into the game point after point.
As they prepare for a semi-final outing with Galway on August 22nd, Limerick will take great confidence from this Munster success but they continue to allow the opposition back into the game when dominating and on this occasion they were fortunate Clare didn’t score a goal. Ronan Lynch was outstanding as he had the umpires reaching for a flag every time he got in possession, Cian Lynch likewise had a major bearing on proceedings creating attacks at every opportunity, Pat Ryan was lively in the middle of the park while Colin Ryan had the Clare full-back line under constant pressure.
Speaking after the game, Clare manager Donal Moloney conceded that his side failed to match Limerick as the game reached the melting pot. “They grew as the game went on, they got momentum and passes started working out for them, when that happens it’s difficult to turn the tide back and we tried hard to get a goal near the end”. Full interview with Donal will appear on The Clare Herald tomorrow.
Limerick: David McCarthy (Glenroe); Richie English (Doon), Mark O’Callaghan (Knockaderry), Michael Casey (Na Piarsaigh); Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell), Barry O’Connell (Killdimo/Pallaskenry), Gearoid Hegarty (St Patricks); Darragh O’Donovan (Doon) (0-01), Cian Lynch (Patrickswell) (0-01), Pat Ryan (Doon) (0-01); Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh) (0-13 9f 2’65), Robbie Hanley (Kilmallock) (0-01), David Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh) (0-02); Colin Ryan (Pallasgreen) (0-01), Tom Morrissey (Ahane) (0-01). Subs: Sean Flanagan (Feehanagh/Castlemahon) for Hegarty (33), Andrew La Touche Cosgrave (Monaleen) for Hanley (35), Sean Finn (Bruff) for O’Callaghan (45), Jack Kelliher (Patrickswell) (0-01) for Morrissey (61), David Condron (Granagh/Ballingarry) for Dempsey (62).
Clare: Keith Hogan (Clooney/Quin); David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona), Shane O’Brien (Clonlara); Aidan McGuane (Kilmaley), Conor Cleary (St Josephs Miltown Malbay), Ben O’Gorman (Wolfe Tones na Sionna); David Conroy (St Josephs Doora/Barefield) (0-01), Eoin Quirke (Whitegate) (0-02), Kevin Hehir (Inagh/Kilnamona); Bobby Duggan (Clarecastle) (0-06 5f), Shane Gleeson (Cratloe) (0-03), Ian Galvin (Clonlara) (0-04), Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg) (0-01), Stephen Ward (Clarecastle) (0-01), Ryan Taylor (Clooney/Quin) (0-01). Subs: Michael O’Malley (Kilmaley) (0-01) for Gleeson (35), Niall Deasy (Ballyea) for Hehir (47), Diarmuid Moloney (Broadford) for Ward (52), Colin Crehan (O’Callaghans Mills) for Taylor (59).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)
All photos by John Meyler Photography