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posted 5 Jun 2017, 08:40 by John O'Sullivan

CLARE...........3-17         LIMERICK.............2-16

By Michael O Connor.

Objective one achieved for Clare. Summer hurling attained without a backdoor key required. Objective two will now focus in on at worst a competent Munster final effort with success the end result if all facets of the structure succeed. The headlines of this win over Limerick show the key forwards on form backed up by positive efforts on each line. Behind the headlines might read that defensive pace issues continue to exist and that the positioning of Tony Kelly to facilitate others may hinder the overall effectiveness of the team. 

Limerick for their part had a strong Clare with Paul Kinnerk and Joe O Connor heavily involved with the management team as well as Alan Cunningham in the background. Shane Dowling opened the scoring from a free and were aided by the stiff breeze in the opening half. He added a second free by the second free before Conor McGrath opened the Clare account. John Conlon intercepted a ball on the wing and his long drive broke in the Clare square and Shane O Donnell was on hand to first time to the net. David Reidy and Paul Browne (sideline) added points before O Donnell weaved through the Limerick defence for this second goal after 14 minutes. He added a point immediately after and now Clare were six points clear.  Eight points was the gap following points from Colm Galvin and David Reidy as it appeard a champagne display was in the offering from Clare.

The next eight minutes, however quelled any thoughts of immediate all Ireland glory for Clare as Limerick raced through Clare and indeed the banner men were lucky not to concede as much more as they eventually did. Limerick were level courtesy of a David Dempsey goal who was set up by Cian Lynch. Peter Casey, Cian Lynch (2) and Shane Dowling were amongst the point scorers.

Conor Cleary responded from play as Clare regained the lead on the 30th minute mark and the winning of the tie came about with the subsequent strong showing of Clare in the final minutes with scores from Shane O Donnell, David Reidy, Conor McGrath plus a super effort from Conlon that left Clare (2-10) to (1-8) ahead at the break.

 Following the five minutes of Limerick superiority and the Clare recovery to go in five points clear at the break the feeling was that Pat O Connor's side had gained a strong level of control once again.

Clare had two wides from frees by David Reidy in the early moments of the second half as David Dempsey and sub Barry Nash narrowed the Limerick deficit to three points. Both sides shared four points before the 47th minute as Dowling (2) for Limerick with McGrath and Conlon with another great point left Clare (2-12) to (1-12) ahead. Limerick were in control of the game for large tracts of the third quarter but had no punch to hurt Clare. Other more tier 1 teams given same chance would score goals against Clare.

 The crucial score that hurt Limerick beyond repair was a deft flick to the net by Conor McGrath with twenty minutes left to send Clare six clear. Shane Dowling, David Reidy and impressive sub Jason McCarthy added minors to leave Clare seven clear. Both sides emptied their benches with the game in the last 15 minutes. Kyle Hayes and Pat Ryan narrowed the Clare lead to five points. Seadna Morey raced up the field and made no mistake from 60 yards. Aaron Cunningham won a penalty that was sent inches wide by Tony Kelly who was replaced soon after. Ian Galvin who will play for some years for Clare stretched Clare seven clear coming into injury time before Kyle Hayes struck for a consolation goal.

Had it been announced before the game that Aron Shanagher, Podge Collins, Tony Kelly, David Reidy and Colm Galvin would score only one point from play Limerick's odds would have been drastically culled. More to work on for Clare but the potential is there if currently dormant.

Best for Clare included Seadna Morey, David McIneney,  Podge Collins, John Conlon, Jason McCarthy, Shane O Donnell, Conor McGrath, Colm Galvin and Conor Cleary in patches. Limerick showed glimpses of promise but no consistency. An improvement in the latter could see John Kiely's men offer a strong challenge in the qualifiers. Best for the Shannonsiders included Kyle Hayes, Shane Dowling from frees, Paul Browne, Cian Lynch in the first half, Barry Nash, Seamus Hickey, Dan Morrissey and David Dempsey.

CLARE: Andrew Fahy (Whitegate), Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge), David McInerney (Tulla), Patrick O Connor (Tubber), Gearoid O Connell (Ballyea), Conor Cleary (St Josephs)(0-1), David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona), Colm Galvin (Clonlara)(0-1), David Reidy (Eire-og)(0-5), Tony Kelly (Ballyea), Podge Collins (Cratloe), John Conlon (Clonlara)(0-2), Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones),  Shane O Donnell (Eire-og) (2-2), Conor McGrath (Cratloe) (1-3). Subs: Jason McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona)(0-1) for O’Connell, Ian Galvin (Clonlara)(0-1) for Collins, Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones) for Shanagher, Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge) for McGrath, Cathal McInerney (Cratloe) for Kelly (69)

LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid (Effin), Sean Finn (Bruff), Richie McCarthy (Blackrock),. Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh),  Dan Morrissey (Ahane), Declan Hannon (Adare), Seamus Hickey (Murroe/Boher), Paul Browne (Bruff) (0-1), James Ryan (Garryspillane), Shane Dowling (Na Piarsaigh) (0-7), David Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh)(1-1),  Cian Lynch (Patrickswell)(0-2), Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh)(0-1), Kyle Hayes (Kildimo/Pallaskenry) (1-1), Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock). Subs: Barry Nash (South Liberties)(0-1) for Mulcahy, Richie English (Doon) for M Casey, Tom Morrissey (Ahane) for Peter Casey,  Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell) for Dowling, Pat Ryan (Doon)(0-1) for Ryan (57).

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath).