Munster club decider ends all square

Na Piarsaigh's Shane Dowling and goalkeeper Donal Touhy of Crusheen. Picture: INPHO

AIB Munster Club SHC final: Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) 1-11 Crusheen (Clare) 0-14

Clare defender Pat Vaughan cracked over a late free to send this AIB Munster Club SHC final to a replay next Sunday afternoon.

Vaughan and his Crusheen team-mates had the better of the first half at Semple Stadium, breaking into a 0-9 to 1-3 interval lead thanks to a strong finish.

Adrian Breen opened the scoring for Na Piarsaigh after Vaughan’s radar was off from two early frees.

Young midfielder Shane Dowling kept the Limerick champions in front at 0-3 to 0-2 and fired home a 17th minute penalty after Kevin Downes was brought down.

Just when it seemed like Crusheen were getting into their stride, courtesy of successive points from Jamie Fitzgibbon and Vaughan, a high ball in caused problems for the Clare defence and danger man Downes drew the foul.

But Na Piarsaigh failed to add to their tally in the closing 13 minutes before half-time as Crusheen put together some excellent passages of play.

The prominent Patrick Meaney struck over two terrific points to get the Banner men level, and then they kicked on with equally accurate efforts from Fergus Kennedy, Ciaran O’Doherty and Vaughan.

It was the Shane Dowling show for Na Piarsaigh in the early part of the second half as he hit four successful frees, cancelling out scores from Crusheen captain Gerry O’Grady and Kennedy.

The teenage star and eventual man-of-the-match added a fifth soon after and Crusheen, with Vaughan showing a keen eye for the posts, had a real fight on their hands.

Cathal King and John Madden raised two more white flags for Na Piarsaigh to draw them level at 1-10 to 0-13 and set up a thrilling climax to this provincial decider.

They nipped ahead when David Breen found his range, but Vaughan, Crusheen’s defensive anchor, held his nerve to point a late free and set up a rematch at the Thurles venue next Sunday (throw-in 2pm).

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