Clare were edged out by their neighbours Limerick in a closely contested McGrath Cup encounter on Wednesday night.
Venue: St Patricks GAA, Rhebogue
By Jamesy McConigley
Colm Collins’ men opened the scoring on the fifth minute with Shane McGrath hand passing over from close range. Seamus O’Carroll and Eoin Cleary exchanged score’s while Keelan Sexton extended his sides lead. The dynamic Danny Neville who impressed throughout the night, cut the gap for the treaty county when he split the post with his effort.
The game kicked into life midway through the first half and the visitors really should have lengthened their lead, Gearoid O’Brien found himself in space but the debutant was thwarted by Donal O’Sullivan. From the resulting save, Darragh Tracey waltzed past the guest’s defence and buried past Joe Hayes in the Clare goal to give Limerick a 1-02 to 0-03 advantage.
Clare hit a purple patch towards the rear of the opening half, Keelan Sexton converting two frees either side of a Sean McSweeney point, giving them a one point lead. The home team didn’t want to be outshined in front of their sizable support and began to dominate in possession. Daniel Daly and Neville kicked two divine scorers to push Billy Lee’s side back in front. At the interval, Clare trailed 0-07 to Limerick 1-05.
Just after the restart, Clare could have instantly raised a green flag but Shane McGrath hammered his effort straight at O’Sullivan and pasted up a glorious opportunity. A carbon copy of the first half, Clare’s demise was punished by a clinical Limerick team, directly from McGrath’s mishap, John Hayes’ mishandling of the ball set Seamus O’Carroll to fire past the helpless the Lissycasey net minder.
Colm Collins will feel that passing up gilt edged goal chances along with their ten wides were the downfall to his sides loss, but the principle goal for him in this competition will be to judge the individual performances of various players.
Limerick were now in the ascendancy with Sean Mc Sweeney scoring another placed ball leaving the home team 2-06 to 0-07 with 42 minutes on the clock.
For the next fifteen minutes, neither side could hit the target with an attempt. Cleary and O’Carroll traded scorers before the score of the game, Cian O’Dea arrowed a stupendous shot off the underside of the crossbar and into the Limerick net in the hope of breathing life into the visitors but that’s as good as it got for the Banner.
O’Carroll, Mc Sweeney and substitute Brian Donovan kicked the home team into a 2-11 to 1-09 lead. Eoin Cleary grabbed a goal late on but it was only a consolation as the composed duo O’Carroll and Mc Sweeney punished the tired defenders.
Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan; Daniel Daly, Johnny Mc Carthy, Sean O’Dea; Paul White, Iain Corbett, Paul Hannon; Darragh Tracey, David Ward; Peter Nash, Ger Collins, Danny Neville; Sean Mc Sweeney, Seamus O’Carroll, Jamie Lee. Subs: Padraig Quinn for Daniel Daly, Jamie Lee for James Naughton, Brian Fanning for David Ward, Brian Donovan for Danny Neville, Killian Ryan for Paul White and Garrett Noonan for Peter Nash
Clare: Joe Hayes; Darren Nagle, John Hayes, Martin Mc Mahon; Cian O’Dea, Gordon Kelly, Liam Markham; Gary Brennan, Catha O’Connor; Darragh Bolton, Shane Mc Grath, Shane Brennan; Eoin Cleary, Keelan Sexton, Gearoid O’Brien. Subs: Jamie Malone for Darragh Bolton, Ciaran Russell for Liam Markham, Seanie Malone for Gearoid O’Brien, Eoghan Collins for Darren Nagle.
Referee: Padraig O’Sullivan