Munster SHC: Clare march on
Munster Senior Hurling Championship
CLARE 0-26 LIMERICK 0-15
By Eoin Brennan at Cusack Park, Ennis
Clare gathered further momentum to ensure a second successive Munster Final appearance after brushing off the challenge of previously unbeaten Limerick.
In front of a capacity crowd of 18,803, Cusack Park again proved Clare's trump card as they led from start to finish in what was essentially a provincial semi-final showdown.
Following an opening win over Waterford three weeks previously, the Banner County were bolstered by a late smash-and-grab victory over Tipperary last time out to provide an unprecedented level of assuredness in their final group outing.
Peter Duggan kept up his unerring form from placed balls with a 13 point haul to top up his side's margin throughout.
Equally, Tony Kelly revelled in the space left by the dismissal of a player from each side with a punishing five point second half blitz while John Conlon maintained his form with four and Jamie Shanahan perfectly operated as a sweeper and chief distributor to the forwards in a five star display.
Clare's greater appetite was apparent from the outset as Duggan and targetman John Conlon kept the best efforts of Shane Dowling placed balls and Tom Morrissey at bay to open up a 0-10 to 0-7 advantage by the 29th minute.
Both sides would be reduced to 14 players just before the break as Limerick substitute Tom Condon and Clare's David Reidy both received straight reds for off-the-ball incidents as Clare took a 0-13 to 0-09 advantage into the break.
With the wind to come, Limerick required a spark to ignite their recovery, but found themselves increasingly firefighting as the new half developed as Clare always seemed able to maintain a five point gap.
Without a goal, Limerick's challenge faded in the final quarter, with their bruising three match schedule in as many weeks allowing Clare to flesh out the final margin with the last seven points as their attacking triumvirate Duggan (3), Kelly (2) and Conlon powered their side to a Munster Final rematch with Cork in a fortnight's time.
Scorers for Clare:Peter Duggan 0-13 (10fs, 1'65), Tony Kelly 0-5 (1'65), John Conlon 0-4, David Fitzgerald 0-2, Colm Galvin, Jamie Shanahan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick:Shane Dowling 0-4 (4fs), Tom Morrissey 0-3, Kyle Hayes, Darragh O'Donovan (sideline), Cian Lynch, Diarmaid Byrnes, Seamus Flanagan, Gearoid Hegarty, Dan Morrissey, Aaron Gillane 0-1 each.
CLARE:Donal Tuohy; Jack Browne, Patrick O'Connor, David McInerney; Seadna Morey, Conor Cleary, Jamie Shanahan; Colm Galvin, Cathal Malone; Peter Duggan, Tony Kelly, David Reidy; Podge Collins, John Conlon, Shane O'Donnell.
Subs: David Fitzgerald for Morey (14, inj), Jason McCarthy for Malone (54), Ian Galvin for Fitzgerald (61), Conor McGrath for O'Donnell (65), Mikey O'Neill for Collins (70).
LIMERICK:Nicky Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Darragh O’Donovan, Cian Lynch; Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Seamus Flanagan, Shane Dowling, Graeme Mulcahy.
Subs: Tom Condon for Finn (13, inj), Richie McCarthy for Mulcahy (HT), Aaron Gillane for Flanagan (49), David Dempsey for Hegarty (56), Barry Nash for English (64).
REFEREE:James Owens (Wexford).