Munster SFC: Limerick prevail following penalty shootout
Munster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
Limerick 2-16 Clare 1-19 AET
Limerick win 4-1 on penalties
By Eoin Brennan at Cusack Park, Ennis
Limerick eventually prevailed on penalties in easily their most extraordinary Shannonside derby with Clare on Saturday evening.
With the Banner bidding for a sixth consecutive championship victory over their nearest neighbours, Limerick came to Ennis with the momentum of Division Three promotion behind them and duly played out a titanic battle that ebbed and flowed over 150 minutes.
Indeed, it had to take a unique penalty shoot-out to finally separate them as Limerick clinically killed off their hosts with unerring kicks from Iain Corbett, Robbie Bourke, Brian Donovan and James Naughton to finally set-up a Munster Semi-Final against Tipperary.
Clare had their chances to avoid such a dramatic crescendo but failed to convert glorious opportunities coming down the final straight in normal time. Unquestionably, the most decisive moment was Limerick captain Donal O’Sullivan’s remarkable 60th minute point blank save to deny Gavin Cooney who seemed to have the goal at his mercy when teed up by Cian O’Dea following an interception.
With the sides level, a goal at that stage would have surely ended matters. However, on a night of such heightened drama, not even that would have been a certainty.
Both had their periods of dominance in the opening half as Clare, despite playing into the conditions, snatched the whip hand early on, led by Aaron Griffin, to carve out a 0-5 to 0-3 lead by the turn of the first quarter.
Limerick would wrestle back control through as four unanswered points were capped off by a wondergoal from experienced full-back Brian Fanning who embarked on an almost incredulous 90 metre run to finish the net at 1-7 to 0-5 by the 28th minute.
Only four minutes later, Fanning turned villain when dragging back Gavin Cooney for a penalty that the evergreen David Tubridy finished to the left corner as Clare lowered Limerick’s half-time lead to three at 1-9 to 1-6.
The second half was much more evenly-matched, with the home side relentlessly breathing down Limerick’s necks only to be fended off each time they got to within striking distance. Limerick did have a great chance to put clear daylight between the sides in the 55th minute when Hugh Bourke offloaded to the overlapping Cian Treacy to bear down on goal but his powerful shot just cleared the crossbar at 1-13 to 1-11.
Instead, Clare clawed their way back into contention to finally pul level by the 64th minute when Cooney and debutante replacement Brendy Rouine fired over successive points.
Four subsequent missed chances including that O’Sullivan save frustrated the home side’s efforts to edge in front until Jamie Malone popped up with a 74th minute point at 1-14 to 1-13.
However, Limerick never reached for the panic button and cooly orchestrated a last gasp free that substitute Robbie Bourke arrowed over from 40 metres to force extra-time.
Clare took up the mantle on the restart thanks to a trio of Eoin Cleary points, only to be rocked back on their heels on the stroke of half-time when Bourke raided for an injury-time goal ago boost Limerick into the ascendancy at 2-15 to 1-17.
Indeed, it had to take Clare captain Eoin Cleary to dissect the posts with an equalising score in the 90th minute to prolong this compelling derby.
However, there was no doubting the victors in an intriguing penalty shoot-out as Limerick were flawless to secure their first championship victory over Clare in 13 years.
Scorers for Limerick: Josh Ryan 0-6 (5f), Robbie Bourke 1-2 (2f), Brian Fanning 1-0, Cillian Fahy 0-2, Peter Nash 0-2, Hugh Bourke 0-1, Darragh Treacy 0-1, Adrian Enright 0-1, Brian Donovan 0-1.
Scorers for Clare: Eoin Cleary 0-6 (2f), Aaron Griffin 0-4, David Tubridy 1-1 (1-0 Pen) Darren O’Neill 0-2, Brendy Rouine 0-2 (1f) Pearse Lillis 0-1, Emmet McMahon 0-1, Gavin Cooney 0-1, Jamie Malone 0-1.
Limerick: Donal O Sullivan; Michael Donovan, Brian Fanning, Sean O’Dea; Cian Sheehan, Iain Corbett, Paul Maher; Darragh Treacy, Cillian Fahy; Adrian Enright, Brian Donovan, James Naughton; Hugh Bourke, Josh Ryan, Peter Nash.
Subs: Jim Liston for M. Donovan (53), Diarmuid Kelly for Enright (58), Robbie Bourke for Ryan (64), Gordon Brown for Maher (64), Tommy Griffin for B. Donovan (69), Killian Ryan for Kelly (70), B. Donovan for H. Bourke (74), Colm McSweeney for Sheehan (77).
Clare: Tristan O’Callaghan; Cillian Rouine, Cillian Brennan, Manus Doherty; Eoghan Collins, Ciaran Russell, Cian O’Dea; Jamie Malone, Darren O’Neill; Emmet McMahon, Eoin Cleary, Pearse Lillis; Gavin Cooney, David Tubridy, Aaron Griffin.
Subs: Daniel Walsh for Collins (55), Brendy Rouine for Tubridy (57), Ciaran Downes for Lillis (64), Podge Collins for McMahon (66), Conor Jordan for P. Collins (70), Darragh McDonagh for Doherty (79), Ciaran Morrissey for Brennan (80), Joe McGann for Cooney (80).
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).