A strong finish to both halves propelled Limerick to a first Munster MHC title since 2014 in today’s curtain-raiser.
Clare, who managed just one point in the third quarter, had the deficit back to a point, 0-12 to 1-8, when Shane Meehan goaled on 46 minutes. There was a smidgen of doubt attached to the score as the sliotar, initially, appeared to have gone wide, but the umpire deemed the ball had flown through a hole in the net and the green flag duly stood.
Limerick’s response was the winning of the game as less than a minute later they had engineered a goal of their own, Patrick O’Donovan with a one-handed flick to the net after fine work by Eddie Stokes and Aidan O’Connor.
Points thereafter from O’Connor and midfielder Patrick Reale sent the Treaty County six clear, 1-14 to 1-8, and it was a lead they held onto from there to the finish.
Clare will have been disappointed to clip just two scores in the opening 20 minutes of the second-half, having also run into a barren spell midway through the first-half.
Limerick, despite falling three behind in the first quarter, rallied well thereafter to lead by 0-9 to 0-7 at half-time. Central to their two-point interval advantage was four unanswered points between the 20th and 25th minute, all four of which were supplied by lively half-forward Cathal O’Neill. The Crecora Manister youngster would finish the half with six points beside his name and was only one of two Limerick players to find the target in the first 25 minutes.
Patrick O’Donovan, when shoving the hosts into a 0-7 to 0-6 lead on 26 minutes, became just the third player in green to split the posts. Adam English added his name to the growing list shortly after to keep Limerick noses in front.
Clare had a far greater spread of scorers, with six different players contributing, but their poor return of just two scores between the 18th minute and call for half-time undid their bright start.
J Franklin (Kilteely-Dromkeen); R Lyons (Monaleen), E Hurley (Newcastle West), F O'Connor (Effin); J Quilty (Blackrock), A Murrihy (Ahane), C Coughlan (Ballybrown); P Kirby (Patrickswell), P Reale (Knockainey); C O’Neill (Crecora-Manister), E Stokes (Doon), A English (Doon) ; A O'Connor (Ballybrown), P O'Donovan (Effin), L Lynch (Mungret St Pauls).
D Hegarty (St Patrick’s) for Lynch (58); M Cremin (Newcastle West) for O’Donovan (60); C Casey (Ahane) for Stokes (63 mins); C Hanley Clarke (Kilmallock) for English (64).
A Shanahan (Tulla); C Galvin (Clarecastle), A Hogan (Feakle), S Devanney (Sixmilebridge); O’Donnell (Crusheen), C O’Meara (Clonlara), T Butler (St Joseph’s Doora Barefield); C Murphy (O’Callaghans Mills), O Clune (Feakle); D Downes (Sixmilebridge), C Hegarty (Inagh/Kilnamona), K O’Connor (Corofin); D Cahill (Corofin), J Collins (Éire Óg), S Meehan (The Banner).
S Ronan (Kilmaley) for Cahill (43 mins).