There was little between the sides in the opening quarter: John Looney opened the scoring for Clare before Padraig Scanlon equalised with a free.
It was tit-for-tat thereafter with Scanlon and Seamus O’Carroll to the forefront for the hosts, while Michael Duffy was the go-to man in the Clare attack.
Bringing their sweeper up to the middle, the hosts saw more of the ball, and Jamie Lee’s introduction transformed their attack as he pointed off his first touch.
Duffy replied with a free but Limerick’s tails were up when Lee added his second before Tony McCarthy slid the ball under Pierce de Loughrey for the game’s opening goal.
Scanlon then added a point before James Brouder denied Looney for Limerick to lead 1-7 to 0-4 at the break.
Limerick resumed where they left off as Lee, Scanlon and Lee again sniped forward to stretch the gap to nine. O’Carroll then had their second goal with a powerful drive into de Loughrey’s top corner.
Clare were given the space to press forward as Limerick’s intensity eased off. Quick points from Looney and Jim Downes shaved the gap and skipper Paudge McMahon and Looney’s 45 added another pair before Limerick midfielder Tommy Childs was black-carded.
However, Limerick struck black through Scanlon and O’Carroll’s 45 after de Loughrey had saved off Lee.
But Clare weren’t dead yet. When Downes pointed and McMahon popped up at the end of a lightning move to smash to Brouder’s net, Limerick looked on the ropes as Duffy followed up with a point.
Lee replied with three minutes to go but, as David Ward picked up a black, frees from Seán O’Donoghue and Downes and a Looney 45 left just a goal between the sides.
Liam Tierney almost grabbed it but Brouder blocked his fisted effort with the last touch of the game.
S O’Carroll 1-3 (0-3 45s), P Scanlon (3f), J Lee 0-5 each, T McCarthy 1-0.
Ml Duffy, (2f), J Looney (2 45s) 0-4 each, P McMahon 1-1, J Downes 0-3 each, S O’Donoghue 0-1 (f).
J Brouder; T McCarthy, M O’Sullivan, M O’Keeffe; J Bourke, L O’Dwyer, M O’Donovan; T Childs, T McMahon; D Ward, S Murphy, K Daly; P Scanlon, S O’Carroll, D Lyons.
J Lee for D Lyons (inj 18m).
P de Loughrey; R O’Connor, J O’Dea, D Owens; C Ó hAiniféin, L Tierney, M Malone; K O’Connor, J Looney; S O’Donoghue, C Brennan, D Collins; P McMahon, M Duffy, C Murray.
C Pyne for R O’Connor (ht), J Downes for K O’Connor (35m), N Bonfil for C Murray (35m), T Downes for J O’Dea (46m), E Tubridy for M Duffy (58m).
M Collins (Cork).