Munster Senior Hurling League Final:
CLARE SECURED THEIR first silverware since the 2013 All-Ireland and more importantly maintained their perfect start to 2016 following a highly competitive Munster Hurling League Final against neighbours Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds this evening.
In front of a healthy 4,853 attendance, extra-time loomed as the hosts fought back from a 0-15 to 0-11 deficit to level the tie with less than three minutes remaining, only for Banner substitute Cathal O’Connell to make an immediate impact and get his side over the line with a late brace.
In truth, it was an even tie throughout, with the sides level on six occasions in the opening half alone. Limerick held the whip early on, predominantly through Declan Hannon and Cian Lynch but Clare eventually settled to their task with seven different scorers helping them to a 0-12 to 0-10 half-time advantage.
Colin Ryan (3), Bobby Duggan (2), John Conlon (2) and Peter Duggan (2) grabbed the majority of the Banner’s scores while Hannon (3), Paul Browne (2), Cian Lynch (2) and Barry Nash (2) did likewise for Limerick. However, the home side also passed up four very scoreable placed balls, a trend that would worryingly continue into the new half as Clare started to pull away.
After Hannon had opened the second-half scoring, Ryan and both Duggans stretched Clare’s advantage to four, but some wayward shooting ensured that they would fail to add to that tally for the next 15 minutes.
To their credit, a resilient Limerick fought their way back into the tie, mainly through Hannon and Nash to finally gain parity and they could have even snatched victory only for goalkeeper Andrew Fahey to deny Limerick substitute Kevin O’Brien from point-blank range in the 66th minute.
Instead, it was a Clare replacement who took the honours, as O’Connell fired a superb point from the right corner before feeding off club-mate John Conlon for a second. It was ultimately enough for Davy Fitzgerald’s side to cement the first trophy of the new season in what was a good pre-league work-out for both counties.
Scorers for Clare: Colin Ryan 0-5 (2f); Bobby Duggan, Peter Duggan 0-3 each; John Conlon, Cathal O’Connell 0-2 each; Cian Dillon, David Fitzgerald, Conor Cleary 0-1 each
Scorers for Limerick: Declan Hannon 0-7 (3f); Barry Nash 0-4; Paul Browne, Cian Lynch 0-2 each; Darragh O’Donovan, Pat Ryan 0-1 each
1. Andrew Fahey (Whitegate)
17. Jack Browne (Ballyea)
3. Patrick O’Connor (Tubber)
4. Paul Flanagan (Ballyea)
5. Cian Dillon (Crusheen) (Captain)
6. David McInerney (Tulla)
7. Conor Cleary (Kilmaley)
8. Gearoid O’Connell (Ballyea)
9. David Reidy (Éire Óg)
10. Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin)
11. Colin Ryan (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
12. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona)
13. John Conlon (Clonlara)
14. Darach Honan (Clonlara)
15. Bobby Duggan (Clarecastle)
20. Tony Kelly (Ballyea) for Fitzgerald (44)
18. Brendan Bugler (Whitegate) for Dillon (48)
23. Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge) for O’Connell (63)
25. Cathal O’Connell (Clonlara) for Honan (64)
21. Conor McGrath (Cratloe) for Ryan (68)
1. Nickie Quaid (Effin)
2. Sean Finn (Bruff)
3. Dan Morrissey (Ahane)
4. Richie English (Doon)
5. Paudie O’Brien (Kilmallock)
6. Barry O’Connell (Kildimo Pallaskenry)
7. Seamus Hickey (Murroe Boher)
8. Paul Browne (Bruff)
9. James Ryan (Garryspillane)
10. Darragh O’Donovan (Doon)
11. Gavin O’Mahony (Kilmallock)
12. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell)
13. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock)
14. Declan Hannon (Adare)
15. Barry Nash (South Liberties)
23. Tom Morrissey (Ahane) for Mulcahy (half-time)
18. Richie McCarthy (Blackrock) for O’Brien (half-time)
21. Pat Ryan (Doon) for Browne (42, in)
22. Sean Tobin (Murroe Boher) for O’Donovan (50)
26. Kevin O’Brien (Patrickswell) for O’Mahony (63)
Referee: Nathan Wall (Cork)