Cathal O’Neill top-scores as Limerick keep minor hopes alive

Cathal O’Neill top scored once again for Diarmuid Mullins’ side. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Limerick 0-16 - 0-13 Clare

Limerick kept their Munster MHC hopes alive with an impressive three-point win over their near-neighbours Clare at LIT Gaelic Grounds.

Cathal O’Neill top scored once again for Diarmuid Mullins’ side. The Crecora-Manister clubman finished with seven of Limerick’s total.

Limerick led for most of the game and were thoroughly deserving of their winning margin over a Clare side that had Shane Meehan as their star performer.

It was the home side that made all the running in the opening stages with efforts from Patrick Reale, Aidan O’Connor and Adam English finding the target.

Clare didn’t get on the board until Cormac Murphy scored on 10 minutes, but Cathal O’Neill’s first of the afternoon reasserted Limerick’s good start.

Shane Meehan reduced Limerick’s lead to two moments after O’Neill’s first, but a free and an excellent point from play by the Limerick number 12 saw his side 0-6 to 0-2 ahead on 18 minutes.

Another excellent Limerick score by Patrick Kirby from the middle of the park saw his side in firm control in the final minutes of the half.

However, there was a sting in the Clare tail with points from Kevin Smyth, Meehan and Murphy saw the score at 0-7 to 0-6 in Limerick’s favour at half time.

Clare’s dominance continued at the beginning of the second half when Meehan picked off his third of the game with an excellent long range score, and Smyth’s third free of the contest put them into the lead for the first time.

Limerick found their feet again, however, with Adam Murrihy levelling and two O’Neill frees in a row putting them back into the ascendency.

Murrihy’s second point of the half stretched that to three, before Meehan’s fourth score of the afternoon kept Clare in it.

O’Neill, Liam Lynch and Kirby then put Limerick into a 0-14 to 0-9 advantage and at that stage, with nine minutes remaining, they looked home and hosed.

However, Clare rallied for a second time in the contest with four on the trot, but Limerick finished strong with the final two scores to keep their chances of Munster glory alive.

Scorers for Limerick: C O’Neill 0-7 (5f), A English, P Kirby and A Murrihy 0-2 each, P Reale, A O’Connor and L Lynch 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clare: K Smyth 0-5 (5f), S Meehan 0-4, C Murphy 0-2, S Ronan and C Galvin 0-1 each.

Limerick: J Franklin; R Lyons, M Keane, F O’Connor; J Quilty, E Hurley, A Murrihy; C Casey, P Kirby; A English, P Reale, D Hegarty; A O’Connor, C O’Neill, L Lynch.

Subs: E Stokes for Hegarty (h-t), P O’Donovan for Reale (42), C Hanley Clarke for Lynch (59).

Clare: A Shanahan; S Devanney, A Hogan, C McGroary; J Collins, C O’Meara, T Butler; O Clune, C Hegarty; C Murphy, S Meehan, O O’Donnell; C Galvin, D Cahill, K Smyth.

Subs: S Ronan for Cahill (40), D Downes for O’Donnell (42), K O’Connor for Murphy (55), S Punch for Smyth (58).

Referee: M Maher (Cork).

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