By Daragh Small at the LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick
REIGNING ALL-IRELAND CHAMPIONS Limerick sent out a clear message that they are not going to surrender their crown without a fight.
John Kiely’s men faced the possibility of being dumped out at the LIT Gaelic Grounds but they thumped Clare in front 29,611.
A week on from their biggest ever championship defeat in charge of Clare, it got worse for Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor.
Clare didn’t do a whole lot wrong in the first half but Peter Duggan was their only scorer as they faced a 0-15 to 0-7 deficit at the interval. Limerick were awesome and already had eight different players on the scoresheet by the break.
But Aaron Gillane fired the crucial goal in a second half where Limerick made a statement as the flares lit and hope returned to the ranks.
As expected, it was fascinating first half, dominated largely by the home side. But Clare stuck in the game and only fell away in the closing five minutes.
It was perfect conditions for hurling, and Limerick almost had the ball in Donal Tuohy’s net with just 32 seconds on the clock but for the intervention of David McInerney when Kyle Hayes looked to be through on goal.
Gillane scored a free in the second minute but Duggan cancelled that out with his first of six first half frees.
Gillane tapped over his first from play and Limerick could have run away with it, as they pulled clear and took a 0-6 to 0-1 lead after 10 minutes.
It was hectic stuff, Gillane scored a third point before further efforts from Hayes, Gearoid Hegarty and an inspirational point from Declan Hannon, after a pass from Tom Morrissey.
Limerick’s Peter Casey and Gearoid Hegarty with David Fitzgerald of Clare.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
But following a difficult week for the county Clare were never likely to reproduce the form that saw them hammered at home to Tipperary, and only Duggan took the fight to Limerick.
He scored his and Clare’s second point in the 12th minute and added two more frees either side of a Gillane point, also from a free.
Clare only trailed by a goal but they were being made to work hard for their scores while Tom Morrissey and Graeme Mulcahy scored at will up the other end.
The personal battle between John Conlon and Sean Finn continued to bristle, but the Limerick All-Star corner-back wasn’t giving much away to his All-Star opponent.
Duggan kept tagging on frees and he scored Clare’s first point from play on the half-hour mark. At that stage Clare only trailed 0-11 to 0-7 but Limerick finished the half like champions.
They scored four points in a row with William O’Donoghue, Hegarty, Gillane and Peter Casey all on target. The hosts took a comfortable eight-point lead into the break.
Gillane drove an early nail in the coffin, his free made it 0-16 to 0-7 inside two minutes of the resumption.
Clare’s Patrick O’Connor and Graeme Mulcahy of Limerick.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
Tony Kelly became the second Clare point-scorer in the 40th minute and although Duggan scored again Limerick were just too far in front.
Limerick began to cut loose and they hit five successive points, with Gillane’s ninth giving them a 0-21 to 0-9 advantage with 20 minutes left.
Limerick flexed their muscles with Darragh O’Donovan, Shane Dowling, Dan Morrissey, Seamus Flanagan and Pat Ryan all introduced en route to a devastating win.
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 1-11 (0-7f, 0-1 65), Peter Casey 0-4, Tom Morrissey 0-3, Gearoid Hegarty 0-2, Graeme Mulcahy 0-2, Shane Dowling 0-1 (0-1f), Declan Hannon 0-1, Kyle Hayes 0-1, William O’Donoghue 0-1, Diarmaid Byrnes 0-1, Darragh O’Donovan 0-1.
Scorers for Clare: Peter Duggan 0-11 (0-8f, 0-1sl), Tony Kelly 0-1, Colm Galvin 0-1.
1. Nickie Quaid (Effin)
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2. Sean Finn (Bruff)
3. Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh)
4. Richie English (Doon)
5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell)
6. Declan Hannon (Adare)
7. Paddy O’Loughlin (Kilmallock)
8. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell)
9. William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh)
10. Gearoid Hegarty (St Patricks)
11. Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry)
12. Tom Morrissey (Ahane)
13. Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell)
14. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock)
15. Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh).
24. Darragh O’Donovan (Doon) for O’Donoghue (55)
20. Shane Dowling (Na Piarsaigh) for Hegarty (56)
22. Dan Morrissey (Ahane) for Hannon (62)
21. Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh-Castlemahon) for Casey (62)
26. Pat Ryan (Doon) for Mulcahy (68).
1. Donal Tuohy (Crusheen)
3. David McInerney (Tulla)
2. Patrick O’Connor (Tubber)
22. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona)
5. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)
7. Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown)
6. Jack Browne (Ballyea)
8. Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge)
9. Colm Galvin (Clonlara)
10. Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quinn)
11. Tony Kelly (Ballyea) Capt
15. Podge Collins (Cratloe)
24. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones na Sionna)
14. John Conlon (Clonlara)
13. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg Inis)
17. Jason McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona) for Cleary (2, blood)
7. Conor Cleary for J McCarthy (5)
17. Jason McCarthy for Cleary (28, blood)
7. Conor Cleary for McCarthy (30)
18. A McCarthy for Golden (half-time)
12. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe) for Shanagher (49)
4. Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge) for Fitzgerald (52)
17. Jason McCarthy for Collins (58)
20. Niall Deasy (Ballyea) for O’Donnell (66).
Referee: James Owens (Wexford).
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