Clare 1-13 Limerick 0-15
When the gods smile they bring happiness to those bestowed with their favour. This most certainly was the case before 4,500 spectators on Saturday evening. Lady luck was also playing for Clare as it appeared with the game in the mix with two minutes to go that once more victory was to be turned into glorious defeat.Questions would be asked of the management had Clare lost this game with the full backline and half backs in difficulty for the last twenty minutes and in retrospect the problems were present in the first half as Limerick had threatened but no scores were created. With success the difficulties encountered enroute to the win can often be diluted but one hopes that this will not be the case in the aftermath of this hard earned and just about deserved success.
Two late points of the highest quality under the most intense pressure from David Tubridy sent Clare through to their first Munster senior final since 2000. Two minutes into the second half it looked as if Clare could relax in the final quarter as they were 1-10 to 0-4 clear having scored early in the second half to reconfirm their apparent superiority. As had been the case in the junior game Clare not their opponents looked like the side that had the championship opener under their belt. Limerick for the whole of the first half were in second gear and whilst they had a few half chances had not the power nor good fortune when required to turn possession into scores.
Looking for their first Munster final spot in 12 years Clare blasted into the Limerick challenge in the opening ten minutes as Gary Brennan in outstanding form at midfield, Micheal McDermott's side had kicked five points before Limerick hit the target after 15 minutes.
Limerick settled without hitting a multitude of scores with Ian Ryan and Iain Corbett causing problems down the right side of the Clare rearguard they soon gained a foothold to reduce the deficit 0-05 to 0-03, with former young footballer of year contender Ryan on target with two points.
Despite being just two point clear the visitors to Pairc na nGael were clearly in control and they responded and in the 23rd minute centre-back Gordon Kelly ran onto a pass from Shane McGrath, carried from the 45m line and blasted past Brian Scanlon from the edge of the large rectangle for a great Clare goal. It must be noted that the effort from Kelly received a slight deflection that caught the Limerick netminder. Little complaint, however from the Clare support who were in seventh heaven wondering when this fairy story would end.
Shane McGrath whose father John was one of the stars of Clare football in the 1970s and won championships with his native Shannon Gaels extended the visitors's lead directly after the restart and there seemed to be no way back for the home side. How the game changed in the next twenty minutes will give the Clare management and players never mind supporters cause for concern as they are unlikely to build up such a commanding half time lead in the munster final. A collapse of the magnitude experienced against Limerick would be fatal beyond comprehension.
Ian Ryan was nigh on unstoppable as he inspired the Limerick revival hitting seven points in the second half as they battled back from being 1-09 to 0-03 behind after Gordon Kelly goaled for the Bannermen. But Ryan inspired the revival hitting three of his seven second half points in a row and Stephen Kelly also found the range to pull Limerick to within five points. The home side continued to chip away at the lead with Ryan getting them on level terms but just when it appeared they would go on and book a Munster final place for the third time in four years, Clare again rallied and Tubridy secured victory with two points in the closing three minutes to set up a Munster final showdown.
Clare had solid displays from their forward division led with distinction by David Tubridy aided well by Rory Donnelly, Shane McGrath, Alan Clohessy as Gary Brennan was supreme in the first half with veteran Gary Quinlan consistent in his efforts. In the defence work is required yet hope is there of a positive Munster final display as Clare all year have been one of the meanest side in terms of goal concession. Defenders Kevin Hartnett, Laurence Healy, Mark McMahon and Gordon Kelly were to their fore.
Scorers -- Clare: D Tubridy 0-5 (1 '45', 1f), R Donnelly 0-3, G Kelly 1-0, S McGrath 0-2, G Brennan 0-1, A Clohessy 0-1, G Quinlan 0-1. Limerick: I Ryan 0-10 (5f), G Collins 0-2, S O'Carroll 0-1, S Kelly 0-1, E O'Connor 0-1.
Clare: J Hayes; K Hartnett, S McNelis, L Healy; M McMahon, G Kelly, J Hayes; G Brennan, G Quinlan; S McGrath, E Coughlan, A Clohessy; M O'Shea, D Tubridy, R Donnelly. Subs: S Brennan for Quinlan (58), N Browne for Coughlan (62), D Russell for McGrath (65), B Hartnett for McNelis (66).
Limerick: S Scanlon; L O'Dwyer, J Riordan, P Browne; S Lavin, J McCarthy, P Ranahan; T Lee, P Kinnerk; I Corbett, S Kelly, S Buckley; G Collins, S O'Carroll, I Ryan. Subs: J O'Meara for Kinnerk (27), E O'Connor for Kelly (53), J Cooke for Corbett (56), J Donovan for O'Carroll (62), G O'Connell for Buckley (70).
Referee: D Fahy (Longford)
By Michael O Connor.
The feel good factor that enveloped Clare football in the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday evening began with this comprehensive win by the Clare junior football team over their Waterford counterparts. Less than three week previous the future of this team had been thrown in doubt with the resignation of the manager Colm Collins and his management team when they found apathy amongst the footballers of the county towards this competition.
This unknown at the time was a stroke of genius as it highlighted the problem. Work was put into the issue with the appointment of genial ex county board chairman Michael McDonagh as liaison officer as he alongwith Collins rallied players and this time a solid group of players were put in place. There would some who suggest that a number who played this game should be with the senior panel expect for their reluctance to commit to the effort and resilience required.
When the panel for this semi final was announced it was apparent that their efforts had been successful as an experienced group of players had been assembled with Kilmurry Ibrickane players to the fore suggesting that a wealth of experience would be available. There was an added incentive for this team to win this round as the final against Cork or Kerry would be played in the banner county and who knows it might just be played in Miltown who was granted secondary county grounds status in the last year. With this as a sweetener the odds suggested that Clare would give their all.
Noel Downes settled the nerves with a second minute point as early spectators to the Limerick venue were hardly sitting in their seats. Waterford’s Gavin Crotty responded within a minute as the decies who had overcome Limerick were expected to have benefitted from the game as Clare had practically no game time bar a challenge or two against club sides. This inexperience did not seem to hinder Clare as they rattled in the intervening five points to surge five points clear by the 13th minute. Noel Downes hit two including a 45 after his initial goal effort was saved by Paul Houlihan. Cillian Malone from Kilfenora sent over a 20 metre free as Paul Reidy and Paudge McMahon were also on target as one could sense that Clare even with just the first quarter ending were in the driving seat against a limited Waterford side.
The best rally that Clare’s opponents could manage in the first half was a brace of scores from David Power and Adam O Loughlin to narrow the Clare lead after 22 minutes to three points. The banner men consoliated their position on the scoreboard with a seventh first half score from Paudge McMahon as Edmund Hogan had the final score of the half to leave Clare (0-7) to (0-4) clear but far more in control on the field of play than the scoreline suggested.
To finish off this tie and confirm their superiority early in the second half the Clare men required an early salvo of scores and this materialised as Paul Reidy and Noel Downes once more were on target in the 35th and 38th minutes respectively. A lull in the game that was relatively lifeless in the second half saw only score in the following twelve minutes with Gavin Crotty on the scoreboard for Waterford as Clare were still (0-9) to (0-5) ahead having not score for nearly a quarter of the game. Waterford used up all their energies to little avail and when Clare launced one final assault on the Decies goal they hit four points between the 51st and 56th minute to seal the game beyond any doubt and a place in the Munster final. The games top scorer Noel Downes hit another brace of scores as his partners in the scoring stakes Paul Reidy and Paudge McMahon hit their 3rd points each respectively. Eight kilmurry Ibrickane players ended on the field when the final whistle went as Edmund Hogan had two consolation scores for the Decies as the first half a glorious double was achieved with a lot less ease than the senior side of the bargain.
Best for Clare who will need to upgrade their panel considerably as they look a little sluggish to have a realistic chance of capturing the Munster title were Darren Hickey, Paul O Connor, Conor Ryan, Paul Reidy, Paudge McMahon, man of the hour Noel Downes, Paul Reidy and veteran full back Darragh Kelly.
CLARE: Pierse DeLoughrey, Enda Ralph, Darragh Kelly, Darren Hickey, Seanie Malone, Paul O Connor, Shane Hickey, Conor Ryan, Keith King, Chris Dunning, Dessie Molohan, Paul Reidy (0-3), Paudge McMahon (0-3), Noel Downes (0-6), Cillian Malone (0-1). Subs: Ian McInerney for Molohan, Niall Hickey for Malone, Sean Cormican for Dunning, Kevin Cahill for Reidy, Evan Talty for Malone.
WATERFORD: Paul Houlihan, Justin Walsh, Declan Prendergast, Ger Dunphy, Shane Lannon, Eddie Rockett, Richie Hennessy, Ronan Cahill, Adam O Loughlin (0-1), David Power (0-1), Gavin Crotty (0-3), Paul Power, Edmond Hogan(0-2), Mitchell Casey, John Coffey. Subs: Martin Walsh for Lannon, Michael O Gorman for Dunphy, Padraig Larking for Hennessy, Patrick Lynch for Power.
Referee: John Joy (Kerry).