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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020

5 talking points after Limerick's Munster success over Clare

We discuss the red cards, Limerick’s staying power and the emergence of Cian Lynch and Aaron Cunningham.

Clare's Patrick Donnellan was red-carded.
Clare's Patrick Donnellan was red-carded.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

1. Red card drama

TWO RED CARDS being brandished on the first blockbuster hurling day of the summer is bound to provoke debate. Clare will have little reason to quibble with Patrick Donnellan’s dismissal but the rash decision by an experienced player is damaging to them.

His suspension will now kick in and that’s four sending-off’s in Clare’s last three championship games. They can’t afford those losses.
Limerick lost Seanie Tobin just seconds after thrusting him into the fray. They’d question the red card given the frequency of challenges similar to that in games. It nearly cost them as well as Clare benefited with the match being restored to a 14 v 14 affair.

2. Limerick’s staying power

For a county that went 17 years without winning the Munster title and were locked in a cycle of provincial losses, this Limerick group have discovered the knack of winning in their province. That’s a fourth victory now in their last five Munster senior ties and just like last summer’s semi-final success over Tipperary, this was a game where they needed to show grit at the finish to claim the spoils.

It’s a boost to manager TJ Ryan in the wake of another dispiriting league campaign where they failed to get out of Division 1B. For four of their starting side, this victory is a welcome antidote after the pain of Kilmallock’s humbling All-Ireland club final loss. It’s been a tough spring but the summer now looks brighter for Limerick.

3. Clare feel the pain of defeat again

The pain of defeat was etched on the faces of the Clare players and management team afterwards. Since the exhilarating high of 2013, they suffered a chastening season last year and lost key components to their team before today’s clash.

Patrick Donnellan and manager Davy Fitzgerald speak to referee Colm Lyons Davy Fitzgerald speaks to referee Colm Lyons. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The desire to atone was intense but despite a brave effort, they came up short. It’s an early season setback that leaves them with six weeks to ponder before the circuitous qualifier route beckons. There was plenty positive aspects to their display today and they nearly chiselled out a draw. The ultimate loss creates more uncertainty.

4. Cian Lynch announces his senior arrival

Players graduating instantly from the minor ranks to the senior stage are rare in modern hurling. But eight months after captaining his county in an All-Ireland minor final, Cian Lynch stepped into the white heat of a Munster senior battle.

He didn’t wilt, chipping in with 0-3 from play, winning frees and giving Domhnall O’Donovan an uncomfortable afternoon. Lynch’s carefree play was a joy to watch as he had the audacity to try a range of tricks.

TJ Ryan described him as ‘a gem’ afterwards and he’s a discovery that really strengthens Limerick’s cause.

5. Aaron Cunningham puts his hand up for Clare

With Podge Collins immersed in football and Conor McGrath sidelined with injury, Clare need some more attackers to roll of that U21 conveyor belt. The threat of Tony Kelly and Shane O’Donnell is well-advertised and opposition teams plot accordingly.

Thus the emergence of Aaron Cunningham today is a welcome one for the Banner. Cunningham has played in the last three All-Ireland U21 finals but injury problems and a competitive attack have made securing a senior starting spot tricky.

He was introduced in the 47th minute today and walked off the pitch afterwards with 2-1 to his name. His eye for a goal and directness make him a valuable asset. Clare will hope this is the sign of things to come from the Wolfe Tones club man.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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