The 100 or so Limerick supporters congregated on the covered terrace made enough noise for thousands as the players moved towards them after this landmark success for the Shannonsiders on Friday night.
It was in celebration of a first Munster final appearance since 1998 that now awaits the team after they eased to a thoroughly deserved eight-point win over a Clare side considered hot favourites to advance to a fourth minor decider in five seasons.
A second-quarter blitz did for Limerick here — a glorious 15-minute spell that yielded 1-7 as they recovered brilliantly from a slow start in which Clare dominated thanks to early points via Craig Riordan (2) and Odhrán Cunningham.
It was captain Darragh Murray, ably supported by his midfield partner Jack Somers, that led the Limerick charge after wing-back Lorcan Murphy opened their account just before the water-break — Murray hit 1-4, with his 22nd-minute penalty being the decisive score after keeper Cian Corry was adjudged to have foot-blocked Emmet Rigter’s goal effort.
They never looked back, with Somers, Conal Ó Duinn, and Ruairi Cronin also landing points before the break as they moved 1-8 to 0-5 clear. “That was the winning of the game for us,” said manager Kevin Denihan afterwards, “and after that, it was all about protecting the lead and going seven, eight, and nine points clear”.
Clare did rally in the early stages of the second half as Óisín Sexton and Craig Riordan landed scores, but their faint hopes were extinguished thanks to goals either side of the water break by Ronan Quirke and Emmet Rigter. The home side’s misery was then compounded when Sean Rynne was red-carded before the end.
“We see what the hurlers are doing,” continued Denihan. “They are an inspiration and John Kiely is a clubmate of mine. These lads are aspiring to do something similar. This is not just the last few weeks and months, this is a four-year project and this is the future of Limerick football.”
D Murray (1-4, 1-0 pen, 2f, 1 ’45), R Quirke (1-0), E Rigter (1-0), C Ó Duinn (0-2), L Murphy (0-1), R Cronin (0-1), J Somers (0-1), M Nolan (0-1), S Geraghty (0-1).
C Riordan (0-6, 2 ’45, 2f), O Cunningham (0-1), C Meaney (0-1), O Sexton (0-1), S Rynne (0-1), D O’Brien (0-1), S McMahon (Miltown) (0-1).
C MacInnes, C Quigley, J Behan, D Clifford; L Murphy, A Neville, C O’Mahony; J Somers, D Murray; M Nolan, E Rigter, O Farrell; C O Duinn, R Cronin, R Quirke.
C Ryan for Quigley (44), S Geraghty for Quirke (45), C Boyle for O’Mahony (45), S Cross for Nolan (54), O O’Sullivan for Ó Duinn (58).
C Corry; A Kelly, J Cullinan, B McNamara; O Cunningham, D Comber, J Moloney; D O’Brien, C Fennell; C Meaney, S McMahon (Banner), O Sexton; J Doherty, C Riordan, S Lynne.
C Gavin for Fennell (half-time), L Doolin for Doherty (45), S McMahon (Miltown) for McMahon (48).
C Dineen (Cork)