Clare dominant at the Gaelic Grounds

Limerick 1-13 Clare 2-24

Limerick 1-13 Clare 2-24

Davy Fitzgerald’s Clare produced a stunning performance against Limerick in tonight’s Allianz National Hurling League Division 1B clash at the Gaelic Grounds to run out winners by 14 points.

A replay was needed to separate the counties in the recent Waterford Crystal Cup semi-final but it was a vastly different story in front of 5,390 spectators in Limerick city this evening.

Clare recovered from a sluggish start to run riot and it was young forward Conor McGrath who caught the eye with a sensational individual haul of 1-10.

Leading by 1-12 to 1-8 at half-time, Clare stepped on the gas after half-time to leave Limerick trailing in their slipstream.

McGrath was brilliant from play and on frees while former U-21 star John Conlon was superb in the second half as Clare upped the ante to blow away John Allen’s Limerick.

Clare were 11-8 with the bookies before throw-in but made a mockery of those odds to romp home by 13 points what was a repeat of last year’s Division 2 final between the two counties.

Clare’s early progress under 1995 and 1997 All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Fitzgerald has been impressive, with a place in next Sunday’s Waterford Crystal Cup final against Tipperary already secured.

But this was a huge step-up from Clare’s previous outings, including that Waterford Crystal semi-final, and the manner of defeat will concern new Limerick boss Allen, who guided Cork to All-Ireland glory in 2005.

Cratloe star McGrath’s goal in the 56th minute handed Clare a 2-19 to 1-10 lead and the remainder of the game was played in challenge match mode.

With Limerick forward Declan Hannon ruled out through injury, the scoring responsibility fell on the shoulders of his former Ardscoil Rís schoolmate Shane Dowling.

And Dowling hit five points in the first half as this floodlit encounter swung in Limerick’s favour during the opening exchanges, before Clare took over completely.

Niall Moran’s second minute goal for Limerick, batted past Patrick Kelly after the full-forward took a pass from captain David Breen, was the difference between the two sides for the first 15 minutes.

With 21 minutes on the watch, Moran popped over a delightful point to hand the hosts a 1-6 to 0-4 lead but they would not score again for 13 minutes as Clare unloaded with a devastating scoring blitz.

The Banner County hit 1-8 without reply to turn a five-point deficit into a six point lead and the scoring purple patch was kickstarted by Colin Ryan’s 22nd-minute goal.

Free-taker Conor McGrath was involved in the move but the creator was Fergal Lynch with a lovely reverse pass that found Ryan in acres of space, and the Newmarket corner forward did the rest with a blistering finish.

Scorers:

Limerick: S Dowling 0-7 (4f), J N Moran 1-1, C Allis 0-2 (1 sl), D O’Grady, J Ryan & K Downes 0-1 each.

Clare: C McGrath 1-10 (0-8f), C Ryan 1-1, J Conlon 0-4, N O’Connell 0-3, C McInerney & S Collins 0-2 each, P Donnellan & F Lynch 0-1.

LIMERICK: N Quaid; P Browne, R McCarthy, T Condon; C Allis, W McNamara, G O’Mahony; D O’Grady, J Ryan; S Dowling, D Breen, S O’Brien; G Mulcahy, N Moran, M Ryan.

Subs: P O’Brien for J Ryan (inj, 9), S Walsh for O’Mahony (h.t.), K Downes for S O’Brien (h.t.), T Quaid for M Ryan (46), J O’Brien for O’Grady (62).

CLARE: P Kelly; D O’Donovan, C Dillon, C Cooney; J McInerney, P O’Connor, B Bugler; P Donnellan, N O’Connell; J Conlon, S Collins, F Lynch; C McInerney, C Ryan, C McGrath.

Subs: L Markham for Lynch (65), E Barrett for Bugler (65), C Galvin for Ryan (66).

Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary)

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