Limerick 3-18 Clare 0-13: All-Ireland champions Limerick began their title defence with this comfortable 14-point Munster quarter-final win over Clare.
With seven of this Limerick U21 panel part of John Kiely’s senior set-up, the Treaty looked far stronger on paper and they eventually wore down this Clare outfit, three goals between the 45th and 55th minute killing off this game as a contest.
Five of Limerick’s starting six forwards scored from play and come their semi-final against Tipperary next month, they’ll be strengthened by the return of two-time All-Ireland U21 medal winner Peter Hayes who missed this game because of a shoulder injury.
Ahead by 0-14 to 0-11, Limerick finally managed to rise the green flag on the three quarter-hour mark, Barry Murphy putting through Seamus Flanagan. Oisin O’Reilly sent Conor Boylan inside the cover for their second, with sub Mark O’Dwyer landing their third with his first touch of the game.
Despite being under the cosh for most of the half, not to mention the five goal scares they had to endure, Clare somehow went at half-time only two, 0-10 to 0-8, in arrears.
The visitors to Ennis wasted little in asserting themselves and had hit the front 36 seconds in, Conor Boylan’s shot whizzing inches over the Clare crossbar. They’d account for five of the next six scores, racing into a 0-6 to 0-1 lead by the 14th minute.
They could have had three goals by this juncture. Brian Ryan was looking for the net when tallying his second point, Clare ‘keeper Killian Nugent kept out a Conor Boylan drive, while Pauric McNamara got in a last ditch hook to deny the same player.
Two further opportunities would present themselves later in the half, both falling to Darren O’Connell in the one play - his first shot struck team-mate Brian Ryan, while Nugent dealt with his follow-up.
Clare finished the half the stronger, sub Padraic O’Loughlin, Gary Cooney and two Aidan McCarthy frees bring them back within touching distance of their opponents. That was as close as they would come.
Scorers for Limerick: B Ryan (0-6); B Murphy (0-5, 0-4 frees); C Boylan, S Flanagan (1-2 each); M O’Dwyer (1-1); P O’Loughlin, D O’Connell (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clare: A McCarthy (0-6, 0-6 frees); G Cooney, P O’Loughlin (0-2 each); S O’Loughlin, S Conway, M Corry (0-1 each).
Limerick: J Power (Monaleen); B McPartland (Doon), J Adams (Ballybrown), J Flynn (Patrickswell); D Minehan (Ahane), K Hayes (Kildimo Pallaskenry), T Grimes (Na Piarsaigh); P O’Loughlin (Kilmallock), M Mackey (Adare); B Ryan (South Liberties), B Murphy (Doon), S Flanagan (Feohanagh); D O’Connell (Kildimo Pallaskenry), C Boylan (Na Piarsaigh), O O’Reilly (Kilmallock).
Subs: P Ahern (Killeedy) for O’Connell (44 mins); W O’Meara (Askeaton) for Minehan (49); M O’Dwyer (Monaleen) for O’Reilly (54); M Houlihan (Kilmallock) for Ryan (56); B Timmins (Murroe Boher) for McPartland (58)
Clare: K Nugent (O’Callaghan Mills); B Higgins (Kilmaley), R Hayes (Crusheen), C O’Halloran (Éire Óg, Ennis); D Ryan (Cratloe), J McCarthy (Inagh Kilnamona); P McNamara (Kilmaley); M Corry (Clooney/Quin), K Galvin (Clonlara); S Conway (Feakle), G Cooney (O’Callaghan Mills), A McCarthy (Inagh Kilnamona); J Carmody (Kilmaley), C Guilfoyle (Newmarket-on-Fergus), B Connors (Cratloe).
Subs: P O’Loughlin (Clonlara) for Carmody (21 mins); S O’Loughlin (Kilmaley) for Conway (29); L O’Connor (Newmarket-on-Fergus) for Corry (HT); C Darcy (Kilmaley) for Galvin (39); M O’Shea (Smith O’Briens) for Connors (52).
Referee: P Kelly (Tipperary).