Kennedy’s men keep Clare run going with first Munster intermediate title

FOLLOWING the success of the minors on Sunday, Clare capture their second Munster hurling title in three days when their intermediate side captured a first provincial crown at Cusack Park in Ennis last night.

Though the winning margin was small, the home side dominated for the most part, a late Limerick goal by wing-back Niall Maher putting a respectable sheen on the scoreboard.

Clare started briskly in an entertaining opening half and had two scores on the board inside three minutes, through captain Tony Carmody and Declan O’Rourke.

Limerick midfielder Conor Allis opened his team’s account when he landed a 65 in the fifth minute. Clare’s speedy wing-forward Daire Keane and Limerick’s Sean Madden exchanged points before Keane popped up again to record the game’s first goal on 10 minutes.

Daragh Keane then collected a bouncing ball before drilling low to the back of the Shannonsiders’ net. Niall Gilligan added a pointed free to leave the hosts 1-4 to 0-2 ahead and firmly in command.

However, a resolute Limerick knuckled down and when corner-forward Michael Ryan split the Clare defence before shooting past Fahey, the deficit was reduced to just one point by the 17th minute.

Ryan again and Tommy Quaid then added points to give the visitors the lead for the first time. Gilligan had two pointed frees for the home side before Dinny O’Connor replied for Limerick in injury-time to leave it level at the half time, 1-6 apiece.

From the restart, Niall Gilligan shot Clare in front once more with a well-taken point before midfielder Ronan Keane struck for a fantastic goal four minutes in. His blinding pace deceived the Limerick defence and his shot beat goalkeeper Barry Hennessy.

A number of well-taken points by Gilligan kept his county in pole position. Clare’s introduction of Pádraig Hickey also gave them extra firepower up front.

Pádraig Hickey was introduced early in the half and his contribution of two valuable points gave Clare some breathing space.

Limerick stayed in touch thanks to some good scores by Conor Allis, wing-forward Seanie O’Brien and Maher’ goal, but Kevin Kennedy’s side eased home will now face Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final on August 13.

Scorers for Clare: N Gilligan 0-6 (4f); R Keane, D Keane 1-2 each; D O’Rourke, P Hickey 0-2 each, T Carmody 0-1.

Scorers for Limerick: M Ryan, N Maher 1-1 each; C Allis 0-4 (2 65); S O’Brien, D O’Connor 0-2 each; S Madden, T Quaid, N Kennedy 0-1 each.

CLARE: A Fahy, M O’Regan, P Kelly, A Brigdale, J Fennessy, M Hawes, K Moynihan, R Keane, S Golden, D Keane, K Dileen, T Carmody (capt), M Duggan, D O’Rourke N Gilligan.

Subs: M Earley for O’Regan (21), P Hickey for Duggan (36), J O’Connor for Dileen (50).

LIMERICK: B Hennessy, S Browne, J Dillon (capt), D Moloney, N Maher, P Begley, T O’Callaghan, C Allis, D Hanley, D Ahearne, S Madden, S O’Brien, M Ryan, D O’Connor, T Quaid.

Subs: N Kennedy for Madden (37), S Dowling for Hanley (45), E Gleeson for Ahearne (57),

Referee: C McAllister (Cork).

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