As in their two previous outings, Limerick had a poor first half but, this time, they failed to ignite after the break.
Bereft of penetration once they moved out of their own half, their opponents pounced when they forced turnovers and gave them a lesson in how to finish at the other end.
The result leaves the visitors sizing up their promotion prospects and will be hoping for a repeat of Gary Brennan’s dominance in midfield and the accuracy of David Tubridy and Shane McGrath up front. Meanwhile Limerick, for a third season in a row, are in a battle to survive.
Tubridy and McGrath opening the scoring for Clare before home goalkeeper Brian Scanlon came up to send over a ‘45’. Varying the restarts gave Limerick more possession as Seanie Buckley replied to Eoin Cleary but their ponderous buildup failed to make any progress.
Seán Collins and four in a row from Tubridy extended the Banner lead before Ian Ryan’s free on the stroke of half-time reduced the gap to 0-9 to 0-3.
Limerick restarted with a bit more fire in their bellies but their early attacks came to nothing. Once again they were punished and when Cleary and McGrath finished off breaks from deep and Tubridy punished a misdirected kickout, remaining hopes of a rally fizzled out.
Taking the foot off the gas and bringing on subs, Clare gave their hosts some space for Seán McSweeney and Danny Neville to strike but then hit back through McGrath and Collins. Another Limerick burst yielded four but that was met by Brennan fisting McGrath’s bomb to the net. Cleary kicked just wide moments later before Ryan sent over a pair of injury-time frees to close the scoring.
D Tubridy 0-7 (3f, 1 ‘45’), S McGrath 0-3, G Brennan 1-0, E Cleary, S Collins 0-2 each.
I Ryan 0-5 (5f), S McSweeney 0-2, B Scanlon (‘45’), S Buckley, D Neville, S Cahill 0-1 each.
J Hayes, C O’Dea, K Harnett, M McMahon; J Malone, Gordon Kelly, S Malone; G Brennan, P Lillis; S Collins, E Coughlan, S McGrath; P Burke, E Clarey, D Tubridy.
K Sexton for P Burke (43), D Ryan for S Malone (43), S Haugh for E Coughlan (52), S O’Donoghue for D Tubridy (60), Graham Kelly for S Collins (71), M Malone for S McGrath (71).
B Scanlon; J McCarthy, P Browne, S O’Dea; M Donovan, I Corbett, B Fanning; Tom Lee, S Buckley; C Sheehan, D Tracey, D Neville; I Ryan, B O’Donovan, P Nash.
S Cahill for B Fanning (26), S McSweeney for B O’Donovan (33), G Hegarty for C Sheehan (h-t), P Ranahan for T Lee (bc, 40), P White for P Nash (54).
J Hickey (Carlow).