Limerick 3-18 Clare 0-13
By Seanus Hayes - Clare Champion
The worst fears of Clare hurling fans were realised at Cusack Park this evening when the county’s under 21 hurlers suffered a fourteen point defeat from defending Munster and All-Ireland champions Limerick.
Twelve months ago at the Gaelic grounds in Limerick, the Shannonsiders emerged with a thirteen point victory and Clare had hoped to close the gap considerably this time around.
They looked to be in a good position at half time when just two points separated the teams, Limerick leading on a score of 0-10 to 0-8.
Just over a minute into the second half Conor O’Halloran saw red and his sending off was a major blow to Clare. With fourteen men they battled bravely in the third quarter but Limerick pulled away in the final quarter and they scored 2-4 without reply in the last twelve minutes as they sealed their place in the semi-final against Tipperary in Thurles next month.
Both managers, Pat Donnelly (Limerick) and John Carmody agreed that the sending off was “a huge blow”.
“We felt we were in a good position at half time but beaten by fourteen points, the better team won and there is no doubt about that”, Carmody commented.
According to Donnelly “the sending off had a big bearing on the game. We were going well for twenty three minutes of that first half but we let them back into it. We dropped our workrate a bit but I was confident enough at half time”.
With Paddy O’Loughlin and Mike Mackey controlling the midfield exchanges, Limerick dominated the opening quarter and Clare were fortunate not to have been much more that five points (0-2 to 0-7) down at the mid point of the first half.
With five minutes remaining in the half Limerick led by six points, 0-10 to 0-4 but Clare finished the half strongly shooting four unanswered points to go to the break with the scoreline at 0-10 to 0-8.
Clare battled bravely throughout the third quarter but when Seamus Flanagan fired home their first goal at the mid point of the half it gave his side a six point advantage and there was no way back for the Banner outfit after this.
Further goals from Conor Boylan and Mark O’Dwyer, with his first action after being introduced, gave a more accurate reflection of Limerick’s dominance and comfortably sent them through to the semi-final .
Brian Ryan, scorer of six points from play, was named as the man of the match and others to impress for the winners were Kyle Hayes, Paddy O’Loughlin, Barry Murphy, Conor Boylan and Seamus Flanagan.
For a disappointing Clare, Killian Nugent, Jason McCarthy, Diarmuid Ryan and Gary Cooney did best.
Limerick; Jamie Power; Brian McPartland, Josh Adams, John Flynn; Daniel Minehan, Kyle Hayes, captain, Thomas Grimes; Paddy O’Loughlin (0-1), Mike Mackey; Brian Ryan (0-6), Barry Murphy (0-5) Conor Boylan (1-2); Darren O’Connell (0-1), Seamus Flanagan (1-2), Oisin O’Reilly;
Subs; Paudi Ahern for O’Connell; Willie O’Meara for Minehan Mark O’Dwyer (1-1) for O’Reilly; Micheál Houlihan for Ryan; Brian Timmins for McPartland;
Clare; Killian Nugent; Bradley Higgins, Ross Hayes, Conor O’Halloran; Diarmuid Ryan, Jason McCarthy, Captain Padraig McNamara; Michael Corry (0-1), Kieran Galvin; Aidan McCarthy (0-6), Gary Cooney (0-2), Steven Conway (0-1); Joe Carmody, Colin Guilfoyle, Billy Connors;
Subs; Padraig O’Loughlin(0-2) for Carmody; Sean O’Loughlin (0-1) for Conway; Niall O’Connor for Corry; Cathal Darcy for Galvin; Michael O’Shea for Connors;
Referee; Philip Kelly, Tipperary;