Limerick began their 2020 season in a positive fashion with a well-deserved two-point victory over Clare in the McGrath Cup at Mick Neville Park in Rathkeale.
In a game that saw the sides level five times, Limerick came out on top with three of the last four points against a Clare side that had to wait until the second half for their first score from play.
Jamie Lee was in superb form for Limerick with 0-6, while Newcastle West clubmate Iain Corbett sent over two points from centre back.
Limerick now play Waterford on Thursday in a bid to reach the McGrath Cup decider for the first time since 2017.
Corbett opened the scoring in the second minute and it was immediately followed up by a fine Tony McCarthy effort for the home side. Eoin Cleary got Clare off the mark on 12 minutes with a ’45, but Lee fired over a long range free to give Limerick a 0-3 to 0-1 lead.
However, Clare hit the front by virtue of a Keelan Sexton penalty after Cleary was adjudged to have been fouled by Limerick keeper Donal O’Sullivan. Lee and Cleary exchanged two frees each in the lead up to half time that left the score at the break all square at 0-6 to 1-3.
Limerick made a fast start to the second half with the first four points with Cillian Fahy (two), Adrian Enright, and Seamus O’Carroll all hitting the target.
Clare soon clawed their way back once more when Cleary and Sexton combined for the latter to slot his second goal past O’Sullivan.
Sexton and an Aidan Davidson mark saw Clare go 2-5 to 0-10 ahead going into the final 10 minutes. However, Lee, Danny Neville, and Lee again saw Limerick go two points clear late on, but Pearse Lillis ensured a nervy finish.
Any fears of a late Clare leveller were allayed when Corbett sent over his second to secure the victory for Limerick.
Scorers for Limerick: J Lee 0-6 (4f), I Corbett and C Fahy 0-2 each, T McCarthy, A Enright, S O’Carroll and D Neville (m) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: K Sexton 2-1 (1-0 pen, 1f), E Cleary 0-3 (3f), A Davidson (m) and P Lillis 0-1 each.
Limerick: D O’Sullivan; P Maher, B Fanning, L Murphy; T McCarthy, I Corbett, B Childs; T Griffin, A Enright; P De Bruin, C Fahy, S O’Carroll; J Lee, P Begley, D Neville.
Subs: G Noonan for Maher (30, inj), H Bourke for Begley (ht, inj), J Ryan for Griffin (54), D O’Doherty for Fanning (55), R Glynn for De Bruin (64).
Clare: S Ryan; C Morrissey, K Harnett, E Collins; D Ryan, P Lillis, C O’hAinifein; C Russell, C O’Connor; C Rouine, E Cleary, C Downes; M O’Leary, J McGann, K Sexton.
Subs: A Davidson for O’Leary (45), E McMahon for Downes (49), C O’Dea for Collins (52), D O’Neill for McGann (57), D Masterson for Rouine (58).
Referee: C Lane (Cork)