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Tony Kelly hits 0-17 but Limerick's dominance books Munster semi-final spot and lands league title

Semple Stadium hosted today’s game.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Limerick 0-36
Clare 1-23

SO MUCH FELT different for a championship Sunday and yet there were still familiar themes at play as the 2020 Munster hurling championship eased into life.

The Semple Stadium stands devoid of fans. The October start date for a summer tradition. A yellow sliotar flying around as winter closes in. All jarring aspects but this game also provided telling reminders.

Such as Limerick’s inter-county dominance as they advanced to a semi-final date with Tipperary next Sunday while also picking up the Division 1 league trophy they had first began the defence of last January.

And the afternoon also offered a reminder of the attacking wizardry of Tony Kelly, the Clare player putting on the outstanding individual show as he chalked up a remarkable total of 0-17. Eight of those arrived from play as the Ballyea man was in prolific form with some sublime attacking contributions.

tony-kelly-celebrates-a-score Tony Kelly celebrates a score for Clare. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Yet Limerick’s strength and class told as this game progressed. They hit 0-21 in the second half alone with Aaron Gillane, Gearoid Hegarty and Tom Morrissey all excelling in that department. Ryan Taylor cracked home a fine goal for Clare in the 47th minute as they hung in contention yet they were overpowered by the finish.

Half-time saw the teams locked together at 0-15 apiece yet the action had been illuminated by an individual rather than influenced by the collective.

Kelly was in mesmeric early form as he shot over a dozen points. Free-taking duties contributed seven of those but he was hauled down for one himself by Gearoid Hegarty, who was booked as a result, and snapped over five beautiful efforts from play. His eight in the first quarter edged Clare ahead 0-9 to 0-7 by the water break.

Starting out at right corner-forward Kelly wreaked havoc in his floating role while the sharpness of David Reidy’s movement was another issue that Limerick had difficulty in grappling with.

cathal-malone-and-barry-nash Cathal Malone in action against Barry Nash Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Still there was evidence of Limerick’s sluggishness dissipating as the game progressed. For instance they outscored Clare 0-8 to 0-2 between the 22nd and 34th minutes. Hegarty was particularly prominent, one delightful handpass providing Peter Casey with the simple task of pointing. That would have heartened John Kiely after a combination of misplaced handpasses and over-carrying in defence had coughed up frees and point-scoring opportunities early on.

Yet Kelly twice and a fine Diarmuid Ryan strike left the teams tied at the break.

john-kiely-with-brian-lohan John Kiely with Brian Lohan after the game.

Limerick thundered into the second half action. They rattled off six points in the first five minutes, a scoring blast that was indicative of their determined mood. The only juncture at which they wavered in the second half was when Clare countered briefly. Kelly atoned for a couple of misses after half-time by landing a brace and then Taylor gathered the break from a Cathal Malone delivery.

The Clooney-Quin mank was direct in his running and packed enough venom into his shot that it raised a green flag despite Nickie Quaid getting a touch to the ball.

That left Clare 0-21 to 1-17 adrift but it was as close as they would get. Limerick always looked capable of pushing further ahead, their accuracy was better and with 11 players getting in on the act, they had no shortage of point-takers.

Declan Hannon collected the league silverware afterwards and Tipperary loom large next Sunday. Clare head to the qualifiers in November. The 2020 season is starting to pick up pace at last.

declan-hannon-lifts-the-league-trophy Declan Hannon lifts the league trophy. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-12 (0-9f, 0-1 ’65), Gearoid Hegarty 0-5, Tom Morrissey 0-4, Kyle Hayes, Diarmaid Byrnes, Peter Casey 0-3 each, Graeme Mulcahy 0-2, Seamus Flanagan, Cian Lynch, Declan Hannon, Pat Ryan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 0-17 (0-8f), Ryan Taylor 1-1, Cathal Malone, Diarmuid Ryan 0-2 each.

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Limerick

1. Nicky Quaid (Effin)

2. Sean Finn (Bruff)
3. Dan Morrissey (Ahane)
4. Barry Nash (South Liberties)

5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell)
6. Declan Hannon (Adare – captain)
7. Paddy O’Loughlin (Kilmallock)

8. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell)
9. William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh)

10. Gearoid Hegarty (St. Patrick’s)
11. Kyle Hayes (Kildimo/Pallaskenry)
12. Tom Morrissey (Ahane)

14. Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell)
15. Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh)
13. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock)

Subs

21. Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh-Castlemahon) for Mulcahy (blood) (31)
Mulcahy for Flanagan (33)
23. Darragh O’Donovan (Doon) for Tom Morrissey (58)
21. Flanagan for Casey (59)
26. Pat Ryan (Doon) for Mulcahy (64)
25. David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca) for O’Donoghue (64)
18. Jerome Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for Nash (72)

Clare

1. Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

2. Jack Browne (Ballyea)
3. Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown)
18. Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones)

6. Patrick O’Connor (Tubber)
5. Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge)
4. Stephen O’Halloran (Clarecastle)

8. David McInerney (Tulla – captain)
14. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)

10. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe)
11. David Reidy (Éire Óg)
12. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona)

9. Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
15. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)
13. Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin)

Subs

20. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones) for Fitzgerald (half-time)
7. Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona) for Reidy (55)
19. Domhnall McMahon (Michael Cusacks) for McInerney (64)
21. Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones) for Taylor (70)

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Semple Stadium

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