Clare secured their place in the semi-finals of the Munster Senior Football Championship with a three point win over Limerick in what was a very dull start to the Championship.
Venue: Gaelic Grounds, Limerick
It was an opening half to forget and could have been mistaken for a challenge game. The shooting from both sides was criminal with Limerick hitting eight wides and Clare six, two of those were glorious goal opportunities that Keelan Sexton and Cathal O’Connor failed to put away.
Ian Ryan and Cian Sheehan gave Limerick a two point advantage with eleven minutes on the clock. Clare responded via Coolmen’s Cathal O’Connor who would later be replaced with a hand injury at the end of the half. A further free from Ryan increased the gap.
With twenty minutes on the clock Colm Collins’ men were back on level terms following points from Keelan Sexton and Sean Collins. Seanie Buckley and David Tubridy traded scores before substitute Podge Collins made his presence known by pointing to give Clare a one point lead at the break.
Indiscipline on Clare’s behalf hindered their ability to pull away from the opposition in the second half. Limerick’s first four scores of the half came from placed balls with Gordon Kelly receiving a black card for one such foul. Over the course of the game they conceded twenty six frees in comparison to Limerick’s sixteen.
Early efforts from Keelan Sexton and Eoin Cleary gave the Banner some breathing space however Limerick would stay in contention with frees from Ian Ryan and Danny Neville. Shane McGrath, David Tubridy, Gary Brennan, Eoin Cleary, Podge Collins and Jamie Malone chipped in on the scoring to extend the lead to four points.
With five minutes of injury time played a nervy finish ensued with Ian Ryan and Danny Neville lowering the gap to two points. Hard-work from Enda Coughlan in the corner resulted in a turnover that was finished off by a Jamie Malone point to seal the win.
Best for the Banner were Sean Collins, Kevin Hartnett and Eoin Cleary while the introduction of Podge Collins brought a new lease of life to the game.
Clare now play Kerry in Killarney in two weeks and a considerable improvement will be needed if Clare are to cause a massive upset.
Clare: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey); Dean Ryan (Éire Óg), Kevin Hartnett (Meelick), Martin McMahon (Kilmurry/Ibrickane); Sean Collins (Cratloe) (0-01), Gordon Kelly (St Josephs Miltown), Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora); Gary Brennan (Clondegad) (0-01), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen) (0-01); Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare), Jamie Malone (Corofin) (0-03), Eoin Cleary (St Josephs Miltown) (0-02); Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry/Ibrickane) (0-02), Pat Burke (Kilmacud Crokes), David Tubridy (Doonbeg) (0-03 2f). Subs: Podge Collins (0-02) for O’Connor (33) (Inj), Shane McGrath (Thomas Davies) (0-01) for Lillis (47), Seanie Malone for Kelly (49) (BC), Shane Hickey (Kilmurry/Ibrickane) for O’Dea (56), Enda Coughlan (Kilmurry/Ibrickane) for Burke (56).
Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan (Monaleen); Padraig Browne (Fr Caseys), Johnny McCarthy (St Kierans), Stephen Cahill (Mountcollins) (0-01); Brian Fanning (Pallasgreen), Sean O’Dea (Kilteely/Dromkeen), Paul White (Rathkeale); Seanie Buckley (Dromcollogher/Broadford) (0-01), Darragh Treacy (St Kierans); Garrett Noonan (Dromcollogher/Broadford), Ian Ryan (St Senans) (0-08 7f), Cian Sheehan (Newcastlewest) (0-01); Sean McSweeney (St Kierans), Danny Neville (Ballysteen) (0-02 1f), Peter Nash (Kilteely/Dromkeen). Subs: Eoin Hogan (Na Piarsaigh) for McSweeney (29), Killian Ryan (Mungret) for Noonan (56), Paul Hannon (Newcastlewest) for Fanning (58), Hugh Bourke (Adare) for Hogan (63), Cillian Fahy (Dromcollogher/Broadford) for White (71).
Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)
All photos by David Crimmins