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Munster Senior Football Quarter Final 2018

posted 23 May 2018, 14:58 by John O'Sullivan

CLARE…………..1-23   LIMERICK…………..0-14

By Michael O Connor.

Clare, touted by all to ease into the semi finals of the Munster title race had in previous years struggled past Limerick in Ennis or Pairc na nGael.  A disappointing attendance greeted the two teams onto the pitch as the game at the feeling of a National League game played in summer conditions.

Clare made a positive start despite an early wide from Jamie Malone and led (0-4) to (0-1) after Eoin Cleary opened the scoring in the first minute. Keelan Sexton and Pearse Lillis added further scores with Sean McSweeney responding for Limerick from a 7th minute placed ball. Positions meant little on the field as at times Limerick had just Patrick Begley on his own in the Clare half of the field. 11 minutes elapsed before the home side struck their first wide from their second meaningful attack. The blanket defence provided by Limerick did little for the game but really it was always Clare who looked more comfortable and pacy when on the attack without ever really threatening Donal O Sullivan.

A surging run through the centre by Jamie Malone who had been a constant thorn in the Limerick side ended with his effort flying over the bar after 14 minutes of low key action dominated in the main by the visitors. Eoin Cleary added the sixth Clare score as the omens appeared dark for Billy Lee’s men. The mood worsened for the shannonsiders as Kieran Malone at the second attempt got the ball past Donal O Sullivan in the Limerick goal. Limerick responded with a Jamie Lee point as his side were (1-6) to (0-2) in arrears entering the 20th minute of the opening half.

Danny Neville and Eoin Cleary exchanged scores by the 25th minute as the tempo of the game decreased markedly. Just as it appeared that the white flag would be raised by the home side they came thundering into the game with four points in as many minutes to half the Clare lead. Sean McSweeny, Jamie Lee, Danny Neville and Paul White were the scorers before Kieran Malone settled the nerves with a much needed Clare score. Eamonn Tubridy was the hero of the first half as he engineered a point blank save to deny Jamie Lee a certain goal in the 30th minute. From this let off Clare still did not look comfortable but fortunately Limerick did not look like scoring anything after their five minute burst. David Tubridy stretched Clare five clear in the 33rd minute from play and at the interval Colm Collin’s men led (1-9) to (0-7) and maybe a little fortunate despite dominating 20 minutes of the first half.

Limerick struck for two scores early in the new half courtesy of Jamie Lee and Sean McSweeney to cut the Clare lead to a goal in the 40th minute. This was as good as it got for the home side who simply ceased to compete from then on as Limerick were outscored (0-14) to (0-5) for the last 25 minutes.

Kieran Malone and Eimhin Courtney and a great effort by Cathal O Connor brought Clare back into the ascendancy and from this moment Clare never looked like leaking any further salvo of scores that would cause undue concern. Eoin Cleary hit a brace in two minutes and by the 55th minute Limerick were eight down and depending  on Donal O Sullivan to deny the inrushing Jamie Malone a second Clare goal. Limerick rallied with a score before David Tubridy was on target as Gearoid O Brien replaced Keelan Sexton. O Brien was soon on the scoresheet as Limerick began to empty the bench with Kieran Malone reaching a personal tally of (1-3) entering the final ten minutes. Conal O hAinifein made his debut a scoring one to boot in the 64th minute. Josh Ryan struck his third score as he led a one man Limerick attack that was totally ineffective for the game bar the five minute first half effort.  Eimhin Courtney as well as Gavin Cooney and Martin O Leary who were also introduced hit over minors as Clare led double scores entering five minutes of injury time in front of an attendance of 2,304. Conor Finucane from Lissycasey also introduced hit over two points in the third minute of injury time as spectators bemoaned the huge injury time that was allocated due the large volume of replacements. The winners move onto a meeting with Kerry in two weekends time whilst a Limerick side with many issues off the park face into the qualifiers. Clare were served well by Cillian Brennan, Eoghan Collins, Pearse Lillis, top scorer Kieran Malone, Eoin Cleary, Eimhin Courtney, David Tubridy. Youth had its day as well with five of the six replacements getting on the scoresheet with 13 Clare scorers in total on target.

CLARE: Eamon Tubridy; Gordon Kelly, Cillian Brennan, Eoghan Collins; Cian O'Dea, Aaron Fitzgerald, Pearse Lillis (0-01); Gary Brennan, Cathal O'Connor (0-01); Kieran Malone (1-03), Eoin Cleary (0-05), Jamie Malone (0-01); Eimhin Courtney (0-02), Keelan Sexton (0-01), David Tubridy (0-03, 0-01f)

SUBS: Conal Ó hAiniféin (0-01) for Kelly (41), Gearoid O'Brien (0-01) for Sexton (57), Gavin Cooney (0-01) for Tubridy (63), Conor Finucane (0-02) for K. Malone (65), Martin O'Leary (0-01) for Courtney (67), Einne O'Connor for Collins (69)

LIMERICK: Donal O’Sullivan; Paul Maher, Sean O’Dea, David Connolly; Paul White (0-01), Cillian Fahy, Gordon Browne; Darragh Treacy, Michael Fitzgibbon; Danny Neville (0-02), Sean McSweeney (0-05, 0-05f), Gareth Noonan; Jamie Lee (0-03, 0-01f), Patrick Begley; Peter Nash

SUBS: Iain Corbett for Nash (45, Black Card), Josh Ryan (0-03, 0-02f) for Begley (49), Killian Ryan for Lee (53), Daniel Daly for Browne (61), Davy Lyons for Fitzgibbon (61), Padraig Scanlon for Neville (63)

Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan).