GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Phase III: Clare 1-20 Limerick 3-18
Limerick sealed a place in the quarter-finals of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship with an impressive defeat of neighbours Clare in an exciting game at Thurles on Saturday.
Limerick hit goals at crucial stages of the game, with Wayne McNamara giving them the best possible start in the fourth minute with a stunning effort and Seán Tobin landing a sucker punch just before the break after Clare had battled back well.
Limerick led by 2-9 to 0-14 at the break and hit another well-timed goal five minutes after the restart when Declan Hannon swept home a third goal, which gave his side a 3-10 to 0-15 lead.
Although Clare ensured a frantic finish when Tony Kelly buried a 21-yard free with three minutes left, Shane Dowling hit his eighth free of the game in added time to seal a famous win.
Limerick had heroes all over the field, but Niall Moran was simply outstanding for them on the edge of the square, hitting five points from play in a man-of-the-match winning performance.
Clare were 0-2 to 0-1 ahead in the early stages, with Kelly and Nicky O’Connell registering their scores.
However, Limerick hit a superb goal after just four minutes, when McNamara struck a goal of the season contender, his fine shot leaving Clare goalkeeper Pa Kelly with no chance.
Moran was making hay at full-forward for the Shannonsiders in the first quarter, and his third point of the game gave his side a 1-3 to 0-3 lead in the sixth minute.
Clare hit back with points from Aaron Cunningham and O’Connell, who fired over after Limerick goalkeeper Nickie Quaid had made a superb save.
Limerick should really have netted a second when Tobin was played through on goal in the 16th minute, but his shot was well stopped by Kelly.
Clare finally started to get on top when Colm Galvin hit a fine score from play; indeed Davy Fitzgerald’s side hit a real purple patch, grabbing seven points without reply in a seven-minute spell, with Conor McGrath on target with four of those, to lead by 0-13 to 1-6.
However, Dowling stopped the rot with a score from a free for Limerick, before John Allen’s side registered a second goal against the run of play, Tobin getting his hurley to a long-range Gavin O’Mahony free to touch the sliotar past Kelly. Dowling followed that goal up with two quick frees and suddenly Limerick were two points clear again.
Three minutes into first half added time, Clare pulled one back when Kelly’s free was deflected over the bar by O’Mahony, leaving the Banner County trailing by 0-14 to 2-9 at the break.
Clare were level within a minute of the restart when O’Connell landed yet another free, but Limerick struck another seam of form to take complete control of the game.
Tobin started that spell with a score from play, before Hannon pounced on a loose ball after a long delivery into the attack and hit a ground-stroke under the flailing Kelly. The Shannonsiders hammered home their advantage with three successive points, the renascent Moran hitting his fifth from play in that spell.
Clare finally gained a second half toehold thanks to frees from O’Connell and McGrath, but Limerick hit back just as quickly, as Dowling struck his fifth and sixth successful placed balls of the day to leave six points between the sides yet again.
Clare went in search of goals in the final quarter, but they couldn’t find a way past Quaid, who made a superb save from Tony Kelly’s 21-yard free on the hour mark.
After a 13-minute fallow period without a single score, Dowling hit a free for Limerick before Clare found the goal they craved, as Tony Kelly hammered a 21-yard free to the back of the net with three minutes left.
However, Limerick were the better side on the day and they deservedly claimed victory thanks to scores from sub Kevin Downes and a late insurance score from the faultless Dowling.
Clare Scorers: T Kelly 1-2 (1-1f), N O’Connell 0-4 (0-3f), C Galvin 0-3, A Cunningham 0-1, J Conlon 0-2, C McGrath 0-6 (0-4f), B Bugler 0-1, P Donnellan 0-1.
Limerick Scorers: N Moran 0-5, W McNamara 1-0, G Mulcahy 0-2, S Dowling 0-8 (0-8f), G O’Mahony 0-1 (0-1f), S Tobin 1-1, D Hannon 1-0,
Clare: P Kelly; D O'Donovan, C Dillon, S Morey; B Bugler, P Donnellan, N O'Connell; C Galvin, S Collins; F Lynch, J Conlon, T Kelly; A Cunningham, C McGrath, D Honan.
Limerick: N Quaid; S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon; W McNamara, D O'Grady, G O'Mahony; J Ryan, P O'Brien; S Dowling, B Geary, D Breen; G Mulcahy, N Moran, S Tobin
Referee: Brian Gavin