Tubridy guides Clare towards McGrath Cup title

Clare 1-6 Limerick 0-8

Clare 1-6 Limerick 0-8

A gutsy second-half display, topped off by David Tubridy's penalty strike, guided Clare to their first McGrath Cup title since 2002 at Cooraclare this afternoon.

Limerick led for much of this contest and three successive points from John Cooke, Michael Crowley and Dermot Phelan had them 0-5 to 0-2 in front by half-time.

However, scores from Frank O'Dea and Tubridy maintained Clare's challenge and Limerick defender Diarmuid Carroll's dismissal for two bookable offences helped turn the game in the Banner men's favour.

In a low-scoring opening, Limerick took the initiative and led 0-2 to 0-1 after five minutes thanks to points from midfielder John Cooke and free-taker Ian Ryan.

David Russell sandwiched in a point for Frank Doherty's Clare side who, having had the better of possession, managed to level the tie when the 20-year-old Turbridy bisected the posts in the 24th-minute.

But Limerick, who started with the same attacking unit that saw off Limerick IT in the semi-finals, hit form coming up to the break with Cooke, Crowley and Phelan all on target.

Having hit five wides to Limerick's two in the opening half-hour, Clare should have been a lot closer and aided by the wind, they launched a fiery fightback in the second half.

Despite losing the services of Carroll, Limerick stayed in front and led by 0-7 to 0-4 going into the closing quarter-hour. Ian Ryan and Ger Collins both raised white flags to keep Mickey Ned O'Sullivan's charges ahead.

A Russell point crept Clare closer and they won a crucial penalty in the 59th minute when Colm Dillon was fouled close to the square.

Tubridy stepped up and nervelessly slammed his kick to the top left corner, past the dive of Sean Kiely, to edge the Banner men in front.

It was a crucial strike as Clare had spurned a chance a few minutes earlier when Stephen Hickey watched his effort bounce back off the post.

Another O'Dea point gave Clare some breathing space in injury-time, but there was still time for Kieran O'Callaghan to fire over a free for Limerick.

Clare were made to fight all the way, something which greatly encouraged their boss Doherty with the National League just a week away.

Afterwards, the Galway native said: "I was very proud of the players. They kept going right to the final whistle and showed a lot of heart and determination.

"The league is where we want to do a bit of damage but (winning) this is a bonus for us and it's nice to have a bit of silverware to start the year off."

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