McCarthy's Limerick scrape past Clare

LIMERICK 3-13 CLARE 1-18

In what proved to be the game of the day, Justin McCarthy was left celebrating his first NHL Division 1 game as Limerick manager as the Shannonsiders prevailed over Clare in a nip-and-tuck affair at the Gaelic Grounds.

The Limerick team which took to the pitch included seven newcomers to National League hurling and they showed their mettle in the opening half, moving 3-09 to 0-07 ahead by half-time.

McCarthy's new-look side owned the second quarter, with Andrew O'Shaughnessy (2) and Wayne McNamara accounting for their goals during that profitable period.

These Munster rivals were level-pegging in the opening stages. Tony Griffin showed well for what was an experienced Clare outfit - he landed two early points, with O'Shaughnessy and Paul Browne, with his first senior score, notching Limerick's two openers.

Barry Nugent and Donal O'Grady then traded points, with O'Grady's effort coming from 95 metres out after he gathered a poor Clare clearance.

And Limerick soon stepped up a gear as they foraged into a 0-08 to 0-06 lead. Seamus Hickey notched one of the points of the year so far when he covered 70 yards on an amazing solo run before firing between the posts.

O'Shaughnessy was fouled for a 29th minute penalty and he dusted himself to blaze the placed ball to the net and move McCarthy's men into a five-point lead.

Clare were coming under constant pressure and it was no surprise that Limerick, enjoying a real purple patch, collected two more goals before the break.

Wayne McNamara put his name to one and O'Shaughnessy increased his influence with his superbly-timed second strike. He pulled first time on the ball after Gavin O'Mahony had dangled a free in towards the square.

David Breen took his personal haul to 0-03 when he nabbed the second half's opening point, moving Limerick 3-10 to 0-07 ahead in the process.

But then Clare built momentum with a fantastic string of points - six in all - to put the game right back in the melting pot. The lively Colin Ryan hit two of the scores.

Barry Nugent added another point before Ryan flicked home the Banner's only goal, midway through the half.

Browne and O'Shaughnessy did their best to keep Limerick on track but further points from Tony Carmody, Ryan, who scored 1-06 in all, and Diarmuid McMahon had the hosts under all sorts of pressure.

In a thrilling finale, McMahon cut the gap to just a single point and while O'Shaughnessy was able to reply, Clare had a last-gasp chance to score what would have been the match-winning goal.

They set up a 21-yard free for themselves in injury-time. Carmody stepped but got under his shot too much and the ball flew over the crossbar for a point.

Limerick gritted their teeth and hung on for a morale-boosting victory, which they merited for their superb first-half display.

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