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Goals from O'Donnell and McGrath key as Clare reach first Munster hurling final since 2008

A provincial decider beckons for the Banner on 9 July.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Clare 3-17
Limerick 2-16

Fintan O’Toole reports from Semple Stadium, Thurles

MUNSTER HAS PROVEN a barren hunting ground for the Clare hurlers in recent times but today they managed to reverse the trend of disappointments in Semple Stadium.

Their livewire attacking duo of Conor McGrath and Shane O’Donnell deserved much of the credit, weighing in with a combined total of 3-5 from play.

That in essence was the difference in this Munster semi-final as Clare’s inside forwards providing a greater cutting edge than their Limerick opponents and that ensured the Banner can look forward next month to a first provincial hurling decider since 2008.

Clare bossed the opening period. O’Donnell had raised two green flags inside 13 minutes, showing glimpses of the damage his electric attacking style can cause. McGrath looked in a mood to cause trouble as well and between them, they had struck 2-4 by half-time.

Limerick will have regrets over both goals in not dealing adequately with deliveries to their goalmouth and O’Donnell seized on the break on each occasion to find the net.

Limerick only made inroads for a short time frame midway during the half, but they mined that for all it was worth. Between the 20th and 25th minutes, Limerick struck 1-5 without reply to alter the complexion of a game that was drifting beyond them.

The goal was supplied by debutant David Dempsey, reacting best to whip a rebound to the net after Cian Lynch’s low shot was blocked by Andrew Fahy. Kudos to Shane Dowling for his vision at the start of the move as his handpass split the defence to release Lynch.

They cut that deficit to level but Paul Browne’s 25th minute point was their last score of the first half as Clare produced another hot scoring streak.

Seamus Hickey, Richie English with Peter Casey and Shane O'Donnell Limerick and Clare players battle for possession. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

They rattled off five points before the interval – Conor Cleary, O’Donnell, David Reidy, John Conlon and McGrath all contributing – to surge in front 2-10 to 1-8.

Limerick pushed hard early in the second half as they whittled Clare’s advantage away to three points on a couple of occasions. However their good work was undone when Clare got in for their third goal in the 50th minute, the alert McGrath rushing in to flick home a long clearance by Cleary.

After that Clare never looked in jeopardy yet they struggled to completely close the door on Limerick.

After Aaron Cunningham was pulled down in the 66th minute, Tony Kelly had the chance to stretch their lead but he unleashed a fierce drive that saw the ball fly low and wide of the post.

Teenager Kyle Hayes got in after that at the other end for a well-taken goal on his Limerick senior championship debut yet Clare had laid the foundations for this victory early on.

Gerry O’Connor and Donal Moloney’s senior summer reign got off to a positive start.

Kyle Hayes celebrates after scoring Kyle Hayes celebrates finding the net for the Limerick hurlers Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Scorers for Clare: Shane O’Donnell 2-2, Conor McGrath 1-3, David Reidy 0-5 (0-5f), John Conlon 0-2, Conor Cleary, Ian Galvin, Jason McCarthy, Colm Galvin 0-1 each.

Scorers for Limerick: Shane Dowling 0-7 (0-7f), David Dempsey, Kyle Hayes 1-1 each, Paul Browne (0-1 sideline), Cian Lynch 0-2 each, Peter Casey, Pat Ryan, Barry Nash 0-1 each.

Clare

1. Andrew Fahy (Whitegate)

2. Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge)
3. David McInerney (Tulla)
4. Patrick O’Connor (Tubber – captain)

5. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona)
6. Conor Cleary (St. Joseph’s Miltown)
7. Gearóid O’Connell (Ballyea)

8. Colm Galvin (Clonlara)
9. David Reidy (Éire Óg)

10. Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
11. Podge Collins (Cratloe)
12. John Conlon (Clonlara)

13. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones)
14. Conor McGrath (Cratloe)
15. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)

Subs

20. Jason McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona) for O’Connell (53)
22. Ian Galvin (Clonlara) for Collins (59)
23. Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones) for Shanagher (63)
21. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge) for McGrath (65)
25. Cathal McInerney (Cratloe) for Kelly (69)

Limerick

1. Nickie Quaid (Effin)

2. Sean Finn (Bruff)
3. Richie McCarthy (Blackrock)
4. Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh)

5. Dan Morrissey (Ahane)
6. Declan Hannon (Adare)
7. Seamus Hickey (Murroe/Boher)

8. Paul Browne (Bruff)
9. James Ryan (Garryspillane – captain)

10. Shane Dowling (Na Piarsaigh)
11. David Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh)
12. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell)

13. Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh)
14. Kyle Hayes (Kildimo/Pallaskenry)
15. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock)

Subs

18. Gavin O’Mahony (Kilmallock) for Hannon (blood) (24)
Hannon for O’Mahony (26)
24. Barry Nash (South Liberties) for Mulcahy (half-time)
17. Richie English (Doon) for Mike Casey (40)
20. Tom Morrissey (Ahane) for Peter Casey (53)
21. Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell) for Dowling (57)
22. Pat Ryan (Doon) for Ryan (57)

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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