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Clare and Limerick play out thrilling draw to set up Munster final date

The two counties will meet again in the Munster SHC final following a gripping contest in Ennis.

Clare's Tony Kelly makes a break past Diarmuid Byrnes of Limerick.
Clare's Tony Kelly makes a break past Diarmuid Byrnes of Limerick.
Image: Tom Maher/INPHO

Clare 0-24 

Limerick 1-21

Páraic McMahon reports from Cusack Park, Ennis

CLARE AND LIMERICK will meet in the Munster senior hurling championship final after they served up a thrilling draw in Ennis on Sunday evening. 

It was a certainly a contest to remember and one which will surely whet the appetite for the provincial final when the two counties will cross swords once again.

Tony Kelly served up a masterclass, finishing with 0-16 to his name, two of his frees landing over the crossbar from his own 60 yard line. The Clare captain delivered his best championship performance of the year as the hosts came to within moments of defeating the reigning All-Ireland and Munster champions.

A hamstring injury ruled Aaron Gillane out of the clash, while Graeme Mulcahy and Darragh O’Donovan were also late omissions from the Limerick team. Doon’s O’Donovan would make an invaluable addition from the bench with a point on 61 minutes.

John Kiely’s charges finished the tie with 14 men following the dismissal of Gearoid Hegarty for a second bookable offence. Referee Colm Lyons spent plenty of time consulting with his umpires before showing the former Hurler of the Year the line, resulting from an altercation with temporary substitute Aaron Fitzgerald.

In what was a rip-roaring opening half, the sides were level on seven different occasions. The attendance of 18,129 in an electric Cusack Park embraced a real spectacle for the counties 12th championship meeting.

Diarmuid Byrnes with three scores, Seamus Flanagan and Gearoid Hegarty nudged Limerick into a 0-05 0-03 lead inside the opening 10 minutes only for Clare to respond with three Tony Kelly scores on the bounce.

jason-mccarthy-challenges-kyle-hayes Clare’s Jason McCarthy challenges Kyle Hayes of Limerick. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

Conor Boylan caught a subsequent Nickie Quaid puckout and brushed off the challenge of Diarmuid Ryan but the Cratloe defender manage to make a superb hook, the breaking ball was claimed by Boylan who offloaded to Kyle Hayes and he struck the sliotar past Eibhear Quilligan for the game’s only goal on 14 minutes.

Once again, Clare’s response was admirable as they hit the next four points. Freetakers David Reidy and Byrnes levelled for Limerick and Clare came back via Kelly including two monster frees from his own 60 yard line.

A four point march from Byrnes on the double plus singles by Hegarty and Tom Morrissey steadied the ship before Kelly and Reidy traded efforts leaving the half-time score at 0-15 0-12.

Wides increased on the resumption but the intensity did not drop, and in the second half the sides were level on seven occasions. Kelly continued to be chief scorer for Brian Lohan’s men with Byrnes unerring on placed balls at the other end.

Unsurprisingly, entering the final quarter the teams were level, and the tit-for-tat battle would continue to the death, Limerick taking the advantage twice only for the Banner to come back via Diarmuid Ryan and Ryan Taylor.

tempers-flare-between-john-conolon-and-robbie-hanley Tempers flare between Clare's John Conlon and Robbie Hanley of Limerick. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

Then with six minutes of normal time remaining, the Treaty County were reduced to 14 men with Hegarty getting his marching orders. Limerick would not panic and instead went ahead courtesy of an excellent O’Donovan score. Clare replied through championship debutant Shane Meehan and they went one clear following a Taylor point.

With 37 minutes played in the second half, Diarmaid Byrnes stepped up to nail the equaliser and ensure the sides would finish on level terms.

For Clare, Tony Kelly was at his scintillating best, Conor Cleary, Rory Hayes and David McInerney were also to the fore. Limerick’s Mike Casey succeeded in keeping Peter Duggan scoreless over the hour, he along with William O’Donoghue, Diarmaid Byrnes and Gearoid Hegarty impressed for the champions.

Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 0-16 (10frees, 1 ’65), David Fitzgerald and Diarmuid Ryan and Ryan Taylor 0-2 each, David McInerney and Shane Meehan 0-1 each.

Scorers Limerick: Diarmaid Byrnes 0-9 (7frees, 1 ’65), Gearoid Hegarty and David Reidy (4frees), Kyle Hayes 1-0, Seamus Flanagan, Tom Morrissey, Oisin O’Reilly and Darragh O’Donovan 0-1 each. 

Clare

1. Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

4. Paul Flanagan (Ballyea), 3. Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), 2. Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones)

5. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), 6. John Conlon (Clonlara), 7. David McInerney (Tulla)

10. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge), 22. Jason McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona)

8. David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona), 12. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg), 15. Ryan Taylor (Clooney/Quin)

11. Tony Kelly (Ballyea), 14. Peter Duggan (Clooney/Quin), 13. Robin Mounsey (Ruan)

Subs:

19. Shane Meehan (Banner) for McCarthy (HT)

26. David Reidy (Éire Óg) for Mounsey (46)

25. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones) for Duggan (72)

Limerick

1. Nickie Quaid (Effin)

2.  Sean Finn (Bruff), 3. Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh), 4. Barry Nash (South Liberties)

5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell), 6. Declan Hannon (Adare), 7. Dan Morrissey (Ahane)

23. Robbie Hanley (Kilmallock), 8. William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh)

10. Gearoid Hegarty (St Patricks), 12. Tom Morrissey (Ahane), 26. David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca)

14. Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh-Castlemahon), 11. Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), 18. Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh)

Subs:

15. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock) for Boylan (53)

9. Darragh O’Donovan (Doon) for Hanley (56)

25. Oisin O’Reilly (Kilmallock) for Flanagan (56)

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)

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Páraic McMahon

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