Clare push Limerick challenge aside

Clare 2-21 Limerick 0-10

Clare 2-21 Limerick 0-10

Clare sailed out to a comprehensive 2-21 to 0-10 win in their All-Ireland SHC qualifier against a below-par Limerick side in Ennis today.

Tony Griffin (13 minutes) and Declan O'Rourke (30) both netted for the Banner men as they led by 2-07 to 0-03 at half time. Frees from Barry Foley (0-02) and Mark Keane were all the Shannonsiders had to show for the opening half.

Limerick fared little better in the second period with only Ollie Moran impressing. Griffin ran up his tally to 1-05, O'Rourke had 1-03 and Niall Gilligan (0-04) and Jonathan Clancy (0-03) were also on form for Clare.

Robust challenges aside, Limerick were simply not at the races and will have to have a stern examination of themselves before their next Section B outing.

The quality of hurling in the opening stages was poor and the game remained scoreless until Niall Gilligan flung over a classy point in the twelfth-minute. Moments later, Clare snuck in for the opening goal as Griffin turned his man and blasted past stranded Limerick stopper Brian Murray. Both Alan Markham and Griffin added points as Anthony Daly's men eased into a 1-03 to no score advantage.

Limerick waited a full 17 minutes before Foley clipped over his first free. After a missed '65', Foley added his second free from 50 yards out - Colin Lynch was penalised.

Signs that all were not well in the Limerick camp became obvious when a clearly annoyed Brian Geary, who was played out of position on the 40, was replaced by Mark Keane - just ten minutes before the break.

A point from Clancy and O'Rourke's goal, set up by two brilliant passes from Lynch and Markham, compounded Limerick's woes. O'Rourke added a point for Clare's seventh score from play.

Keane and Gilligan then swapped frees before goalscorer Griffin swung over another point and Keane flicked an easy free off the upright at the other end.

Trailing by 0-03 to 2-07 at the break, Limerick manager Joe McKenna simply had to shuffle his pack but his replacing of goalkeeper Murray with Timmy Houlihan did nothing to his side's flailing attack.

Keane did cut the gap with a couple of frees as the second half opened, but Clare always had the answers. Gilligan (0-02) and Brian O'Connell cancelled out a Foley effort on 46 minutes.

O'Rourke and Clancy scored to put twelve points between the sides with 20 minutes remaining. Substitute Derek Quinn and Griffin notched further points as Daly's side led by 14 points - 2-14 to 0-06 - and Limerick's wides tally ran to 17.

As tempers began to boil with Clare keeper Davy Fitzgerald enjoying an easy afternoon and goading the opposition at times, substitute Willie Walsh amazingly struck over Limerick's first point from play in the 66th-minute.

By that time, Clare were coasting with Griffin (0-02), Clancy, substitute Barry Nugent (0-02), Fergal Lynch and O'Rourke adding to their tallies - in all, nine Banner players got on the scoresheet. The less said about Limerick's performance the better.

Clare: D Fitzgerald; G O'Grady, B Lohan, F Lohan; B O'Connell (0-01), S McMahon, G Quinn; J Clancy (0-03), C Lynch; D O'Rourke (1-04), T Carmody, D McMahon; N Gilligan (0-04 (1f)), A Markham (0-01), T Griffin (1-05).

Subs used: F Lynch (0-01) for Carmody (45 mins), D Quinn (0-01) for Gilligan (48), B Nugent (0-01) for D McMahon (55), D O'Connell for Markham (61), D Hoey for G Quinn (64).

Limerick: B Murray; M O'Riordan, K Breen, D Reale; S Hickey, S Lucey, M Foley (0-01 (1 '65')); O Moran, C Fitzgerald; M O'Brien (0-01), B Geary, B Foley (0-02 (2f)); A O'Shaughnessy, B Begley, D Ryan.

Subs used: M Keane (0-04 (4f)) for Geary (25 mins), T Houlihan for Murray (half time), N Moran (0-01) for B Foley (36), P O'Grady for Fitzgerald (47), D O'Grady for O'Shaughnessy (54); W Walsh (0-01) for Ryan (blood sub).

Referee: Seamus Roche (Tipperary).

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