By John Fogarty
Limerick 1-19 Clare 2-15
Adare's John Fitzgibbon was the hero for Limerick but Clare were left counting the cost of their indiscipline in a niggly and sometimes ugly Munster quarter-final.
Played out in front of a 21,493 Thurles crowd, each side were reduced to 14 men, Limerick losing Seanie Tobin just seconds after he arrived on the field after an altercation with Pat O'Connor.
Limerick led by two points at that stage and went three up when the excellent Cian Lynch, shortening his grip, sent over his third of the game. Their goal had come in the 52nd minute when a long Shane Dowling ball was misjudged by Patrick Kelly and Domhnall O'Donovan, allowing Graeme Mulcahy to find the net.
That pushed Limerick into a six-point advantage but Clare substitute Aaron Cunningham, with his first taste of action, snaffled a goal with some set-up play from Shane O'Donnell. His second goal in the 64th minute was a peach and there was nothing Barry Hennessy could do about it.
That brought Clare to within a point of their neighbours and O'Donnell, with his first score of the afternoon, levelled the game only for Fitzgibbon to find his range from long distance two minutes from the end of normal time.
O'Connor had a chance to square it up again but his shot strayed wide.
Just one minute of additional time was provided by referee Colm Lyons although it appeared the fourth official had signalled for four. However, Clare could have few excuses, their defence guilty of coughing up too many frees.
A disappointing first half was ended by a nasty row involving several players which was initiated by a challenge by Tony Kelly on Donal O'Grady just as Lyons called half-time.
After it petered out, Clare vice-captain Pat Donnellan was issued with a straight red card for raising his hurley to O'Grady's face.
Colin Ryan and Dowling were top scorers in the first half with five and four points from frees respectively although Ryan missed a relatively easy effort as did Dowling on a few occasions.
Facing the wind, Clare would have been slightly more content to be just one point behind at the changeover (0-9 to 0-8) before Donnellan's departure. O'Donnell was dangerous when isolated on Richie McCarthy although Lynch, who bagged himself two points before the interval, was causing havoc in the Clare full-back line.
Limerick twice led by three points in the 13th and 22nd minutes and goal chances were few and far between - Dowling's attempt to surprise the Clare defenders on the goal-line with a close range free in the fourth minute was easily negotiated while Colin Ryan was fouled just as he honed in on goal in the 34th minute.
Scorers for Limerick: S Dowling (0-11, 10 frees, 1 65); G Mulcahy (1-1); C Lynch (0-3); P O'Brien, S O'Brien, T Condon, J Fitzgibbon (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clare: C Ryan (0-7, 5 frees); A Cunningham (2-1); J Conlon, T Kelly (0-2 each); S Golden, D Reidy, S O'Donnell (0-1 each).
CLARE: P Kelly; D O'Donovan, C Dillon, D McInerney; J Browne, Conor Ryan, P Donnellan; G O'Connell, P O'Connor; S Golden, T Kelly, Colin Ryan; J Conlon, S O'Donnell, D Reidy.
Subs for Clare: A Cunningham for D Reidy (48); S Morey for D O'Donovan (55); B Duggan for G O'Connell (58); D Honan for S Golden (67); N O'Connell for T Kelly (69, inj).
Sent off: P Donnellan (h-t, straight).
LIMERICK: B Hennessy; S Walsh, R McCarthy, S Hickey; T Condon, G O'Mahony, S O'Brien; J Ryan, P O'Brien; D O'Grady, D Hannon, P Browne; G Mulcahy, S Dowling, C Lynch.
Subs for Limerick: S Tobin for D O'Grady (55); D Morrissey for S Walsh (63); W McNamara for S Hickey (inj), J Fitzgibbon for J Ryan (both 66); K Downes for P Browne (70+1).
Sent off : S Tobin (56, straight).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork)