Munster SHC: Impressive Limerick triumph
Munster Senior Hurling Championship
LIMERICK 1-28 CLARE 0-13
By Daragh Small at LIT Gaelic Grounds
Aaron Gillane hit 1-11 as the reigning All-Ireland champions Limerick made it clear they have no intention of giving up their title without a fight as they cruised to an 18-point win over neighbours Clare at the LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
Limerick would have surrendered their All-Ireland crown if they lost but they controlled the game from the outset as Clare fell to a second successive heavy defeat in the Munster SHC and are no longer in control of their own destiny.
John Kiely’s men pulled away towards the end of the first half. Peter Duggan was Clare’s only scorer as they turned around facing a 0-15 to 0-7 deficit at the interval. Limerick were awesome and already had eight different players on the scoresheet.
And once Gillane struck a goal in the second half Limerick raced through the gears to make a statement in the sun.
It was fascinating first half in front of 29,611. The home side dominated largely, but Clare stuck in the game and only fell away in the closing five minutes.
Gillane scored a free in the second minute but Duggan cancelled that out with his first of six first half frees. The impressive Gillane tapped over his first from play and Limerick could have run away with it, as they pulled clear and took a 0-6 to 0-1 lead after 10 minutes.
It was hectic stuff, Gillane scored a third point before further efforts from Hayes, Gearoid Hegarty and an inspirational point from Declan Hannon, after a pass from Tom Morrissey.
But following a difficult week for the county Clare were never likely to reproduce the form that saw them hammered at home to Tipperary, and Duggan took the fight to Limerick. He scored his and Clare’s second point in the 12th minute and added two more frees either side of a Gillane point, also from a free.
Clare only trailed by a goal but they were being made to work hard for their scores while Tom Morrissey and Graeme Mulcahy scored at will up the other end.
The personal battle between John Conlon and Sean Finn continued to bristle, but the Limerick All-Star corner-back wasn’t giving much away to his All-Star opponent.
Duggan kept tagging on frees and he scored Clare’s first point from play on the half-hour mark. At that stage Clare only trailed 0-11 to 0-7 but Limerick finished the half like champions. They scored four points in a row with William O’Donoghue, Hegarty, Gillane and Peter Casey all on target. The hosts took a comfortable eight-point lead into the break.
Gillane drove an early nail in the coffin, his free made it 0-16 to 0-7 inside two minutes of the resumption. Tony Kelly became the second Clare point-scorer in the 40th minute and although Duggan scored again Limerick were just too far in front.
Limerick began to cut loose and they hit five successive points, with Gillane’s ninth giving them a 0-21 to 0-9 advantage with 20 minutes left. Limerick flexed their muscles with Darragh O’Donovan, Shane Dowling, Dan Morrissey, Seamus Flanagan and Pat Ryan all introduced en route to a devastating win.
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 1-11 (7fs, 65), Peter Casey 0-4, Tom Morrissey 0-3, Gearoid Hegarty 0-2, Graeme Mulcahy 0-2, Shane Dowling 0-1 (f), Declan Hannon 0-1, Kyle Hayes 0-1, William O’Donoghue 0-1, Diarmaid Byrnes 0-1, Darragh O’Donovan 0-1.
Scorers for Clare: Peter Duggan 0-11 (0-8f, 0-1sl), Tony Kelly 0-1, Colm Galvin 0-1.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Paddy O’Loughlin; Cian Lynch, William O’Donoghue; Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Graeme Mulcahy, Peter Casey.
Subs: Darragh O’Donovan for O’Donoghue (55), Shane Dowling for Hegarty (56), Dan Morrissey for Hannon (62), Seamus Flanagan for Casey (62), Pat Ryan for Mulcahy (68).
CLARE: Donal Tuohy; David McInerney, Patrick O’Connor, David Fitzgerald; Cathal Malone, Conor Cleary, Jack Browne; Shane Golden, Colm Galvin; Peter Duggan, Tony Kelly, Podge Collins; Aron Shanagher, John Conlon, Shane O’Donnell.
Subs: Jason McCarthy for Cleary (2, blood), Cleary for J McCarthy (5), J McCarthy for Cleary (28, blood), Cleary for J McCarthy (30), Aidan McCarthy for Golden (half-time), Diarmuid Ryan for Shanagher (49), Seadna Morey for Fitzgerald (52), J McCarthy for Collins (58), Niall Deasy for O’Donnell (66).
REFEREE: James Owens (Wexford).