By John Fogarty
Limerick 0-13 Clare 0-16
Clare have won through to a Munster semi-final with Kerry but with little ease and even less panache at a sun-kissed Gaelic Grounds.
Colm Collins’ men only went ahead with the last point of the first half and their indiscipline allowed Ian Ryan to keep Limerick within touching distance of them for most of the second half.
In a dire affair, Limerick’s attack offered little from open play and it wasn’t until the 63rd minute that their forward line scored from play, Ryan the scorer.
It was in the last 20 minutes of normal time that Clare actually looked like a team bound for Division 2 next season. Gary Brennan, subdued by his high standards, pointed from distance to stretch Clare’s lead to three.
They were four up with a Jamie Malone score in the 62nd minute and restored that lead in the 68th minute only for Limerick to rattle off two in quick succession. Malone provided security with a fisted point late in injury-time when the goal was a-begging.
We would much prefer if we kept the synopsis of the first half to the score-line at half-time – Clare 0-5 Limerick 0-4. So bad was it that there were ironic cheers when Ryan sent over a free in the 11th minute. It came after an opening nine minutes where there was a wide for every point, Limerick the guiltier of the pair.
That being said, Limerick were the more dominant side in the opening quarter and led by 0-3 to 0-1 when Ryan punished a kick-out error with another free in the 15th minute. Clare had two goal chances – Keelan Sexton kicking wide from close range in the seventh minute and then Malone inexplicably hand-passing to the net, which was instantly disallowed, in 17th minute.
Through Sexton and Sean Collins points, Clare were back on level terms and, although they went behind again when Seanie Buckley opened them up on the half hour mark, Tubridy sent over a long free and substitute Podge Collins turned his marker to split the posts and give the visitors their lead at the break.
Scorers for Limerick: I. Ryan (0-8, 7 frees); D. Neville (0-2, 1 free); C. Sheehan, S. Buckley, S. Cahill (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clare: D. Tubridy (2 frees), J. Malone (0-3 each); K. Sexton, P. Collins, E. Cleary (0-2 each); C. O’Connor, S. Collins, S. McGrath, G. Brennan (0-1 each).
LIMERICK: D. O’Sullivan; S. Cahill, P. Browne, J. McCarthy; B. Fanning, S. O’Dea, P. White; S. Buckley, D. Treacy; G. Noonan, I. Ryan (c), C. Sheehan; P. Nash, D. Neville, S. McSweeney.
Subs for Limerick: E. Hogan for S. McSweeney (29); K. Ryan for G. Noonan (57); P. Hannon for B. Fanning (59); H. Bourke for E. Hogan (64); C. Fahy for P. White (70+2).
CLARE: J Hayes; M. McMahon, K. Harnett, D. Ryan; S. Collins, G. Kelly, S. O’Dea; G. Brennan (c), C. O’Connor; P. Lillis, J. Malone, E. Cleary; K. Sexton, D. Tubridy, P. Burke.
Subs for Clare: P. Collins for C. O’Connor (inj 34); S. Malone for G. Kelly (black, 51); S. Hickey for C. O’Dea, E. Coughlan for P. Burke (both 57).
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)