Sometimes early January days have a habit of coughing up false dawns, but the manner in which this experimental Limerick side cantered to an eight-point success over a disappointing Clare on Sunday was a real signpost of intent.
John Kiely’s side were always in control, buoyed by a fast start that saw them open up 0-9 to 0-2 lead after the first quarter they were never really troubled as a tour de force from David Reidy that yielded 1-12 eased them towards a final joust against Cork.
“It’s our first outing of 2020 and in terms of what we’re looking for they delivered,” said Kiely afterwards.
“The attitude was very, very good. They worked very hard as a team. We tried to use the ball well.
“What we’re trying to do with the boys in training is what we’re seeing on the field.”
This was their precise possession game which exposed Clare early on, with a run 0-8 without reply in a ten-minute spell in that opening quarter badly exposing a Clare side that failed to get to the pitch of the game when aided by the wind.
The home side finally roused themselves before a bumper attendance of 3,312 in the closing 10 minutes before the break thanks to two booming efforts from Diarmuid Ryan and Niall Deasy’s accuracy from placed balls, but the game of catch-up that saw the deficit reduced to a 0-13 to 0-9 by half-time always seemed destined to grind to a halt.
It did thanks to the flair Limerick had in attack as they eventually turned the screw when aided by the elements, with Aidan Breen and Tom Morrissey each bagging 0-4 from play, while Reidy eventually killed off the stout resistance provided by Niall Deasy when crashing to the net on 55 minutes after Graeme Mulcahy had created the initial opening.
That strike put the reigning Munster and national league champions 1-19 to 0-15 clear, a seven-point margin that would have reached double digits by endgame only for Aron Shanagher to whip a low shot to the net on 67 minutes when a speculative lob by Tony Kelly broke kindly for him on the edge of the square.
“We just didn’t come out of the blocks,” reflected Clare boss Brian Lohan afterwards, “but we from there we picked it up.
“The second half was even enough without them being too uncomfortable. But at the end of it’s the first week in January.”
John Kiely, meanwhile, was looking towards the end of January as much as next weekend’s Munster League final against Cork. “We have to go to Thurles on January 25 to play Tipperary and it’s going to be a huge challenge for us. We also know we’re going to have to improve for this final against Cork. They’ve been very impressive in the competition so far, so we know what to expect there.”
Scorers for Limerick: D Reidy (1-12, 9f, one ’65), A Breen (0-4), T Morrissey (0-4), R Connolly (0-2), J Considine (0-2), R Hanley (0-1), D O’Connell (0-1), D O’Donovan (0-1).
Scorers for Clare: N Deasy (0-11, 6f, two ’65), A Shanagher (1-1), D Ryan (0-2), S O’Halloran (0-1), M O’Neill (0-1), C Guilfoyle (0-1), T Kelly (0-1), L Corry (0-1).
LIMERICK B Hennessy; T Condon, M Casey, A Costello; B Nash, D Morrissey, P O’Loughlin; R Connolly, R Hanley; D O’Donovan,T Morrissey, C Boylan; A Breen, D Reidy, D O’Connell.
Subs: J Considine for Hanley (51), D Dempsey for Boylan (54), G Mulcahy for O’Connell (54), B O’Grady for Condon (59), B Ryan for Reidy (64).
CLARE: E Quilligan; P Fitzpatrick, C Cleary, A McCarthy; M O’Malley, J Browne, S O’Halloran; T Kelly, S Golden; A Shanagher, R Taylor, D Ryan; C Guilfoyle, N Deasy, M O’Neill.
Subs: D McMahon for Ryan (44), S McMahon for O’Neill (44), G Cooney for Taylor (54), L Corry for O’Malley (58).
Referee: Kevin Jordan (Tipperary)