Clare 1-23 Limerick 0-14
By Eoghan Cormican, Gaelic Grounds
A commanding closing 22 minutes from Clare - during which they outscored the hosts by 0-14 to 0-5 - propelled the Banner to a Munster SFC meeting with Kerry on the first weekend of June.
This was Clare’s fourth consecutive Munster quarter-final win over Limerick and this was also the most comprehensive of the quartet as Colm Collins’ side opened and finished proceedings most strongly.
With Limerick having cut the margin to three, 1-9 to 0-9, early in the second-half, Clare answered this with five-in-a-row to put paid to any notion of a comeback. Eoin Cleary, excellent for winners throughout, accounted for two of this five, one off either foot.
Subs Gavin Cooney, Conor Finucane, Gearoid O’Brien, Martin O’Leary and Conal Ó hAinifein all wrote their names onto the scoresheet approaching the finish as the visitors ran out comfortable 12-point winners.
Clare led 1-9 to 0-7 at the break but Limerick would have been pretty content to see the gap at five given they trailed 1-6 to 0-1 after 17 minutes.
It was all Clare in that first quarter, with Eoin Cleary (0-2), Keelan Sexton, David Tubridy (free), Pearse Lillis and Jamie Malone all kicking points. All Limerick could muster early on was a Jamie Lee free and they fell further behind when Kieran Malone kicked to the net after Limerick Donal O’Sullivan saved his initial effort.
Eight in the clear, Clare went back into their shell instead of further wielding the knife into their opponents, the home side registering six of the next seven scores to cut the margin to three (1-7 to 0-7).
Jamie Lee had Limerick’s first from play at the beginning of this spell and that was followed by white flags from Danny Neville (0-2), Sean McSweeney, another from Lee, and Paul White.
They had it back to three after Jamie Lee and McSweeney both slotted frees at the beginning of the second-half, but that was as close as they would come.
Clare, who kicked four wides early in the second period, didn’t get their first of the half until the 48th minute. Thereafter, the floodgates opened and it was one-way traffic to the finish line.
Kerry next in Killarney, they'll need to improve massively if they're to challenge the Kingdom.
Scorers for Clare: K Malone (1-3); E Cleary (0-5); D Tubridy (0-3, 0-1 free); E Courtney, C Finucane (0-2 each); P Lillis, C O’Connor, J Malone, K Sexton, G O’Brien, M O’Leary, C Ó hAinifein, G Cooney (0-1 each).
Scorers for Limerick: S McSweeney (0-5, 0-5 frees); J Lee (0-3, 0-1 free), J Ryan (0-3, 0-2 frees); D Neville (0-2); P White (0-1).
Clare: E Tubridy; G Kelly, C Brennan, E Collins; C O’Dea, A Fitzgerald, P Lillis; G Brennan, C O’Connor; K Malone, E Cleary, J Malone; E Courtney, K Sexton, D Tubridy.
Subs: C Ó hAinifein for Kelly (42 mins); G O’Brien for Sexton (58); G Cooney for Tubridy (64); C Finucane for K Malone (66); M O’Leary for Courtney (67); E O’Connor for Collins (69)
Limerick: D O’Sullivan; G Noonan, S O’Dea, D Connolly; P Maher, C Fahy, G Browne; M Fitzgibbon, D Treacy; D Neville, S McSweeney, P White; J Lee, P Begley, P Nash.
Subs: I Corbett for Nash (45, bc); J Ryan for Begley (49); K Ryan for Lee (54); D Daly for Browne, D Lyons for Fitzgibbon (62); P Scanlon for Neville (64)
Referee: N Mooney (Cavan).