Clare 0-19 Limerick 0-17
FOR the first time since 1997, a memorable year for Clare hurling, the Banner County will contest the minor and senior Munster hurling finals on the same afternoon.
A thrilling victory over Limerick, in a game that required extra time at Cusack Park on Wednesday, has given an unfancied Clare side a place in Sunday week’s final in Thurles, a game that will be a curtain-raiser to the senior final between Clare and Cork.
The minors will know their opponents on Thursday evening, when Cork play Tipperary at Thurles in the second semi-final.
There were some outstanding performances, as the Sean Doyle-managed side overcame a fancied Limerick side in front of an attendance of 3,697.
Equally, there are some areas of concern for Clare, not least their tally of 22 wides over the 80 minutes.
Clare’s never-say-die attitude proved crucial in the final analysis and while Limerick threw everything at the home side in the closing minutes, they simply refused to yield.
Weather conditions deteriorated shortly before the game, and the thick drizzle made it difficult for players.
The Clare team showed five changes in personnel from that which comfortably overcame Waterford in the opening round at the beginning of April.
Omitted were corner-backs Cian McInerney (captain) and Conor Ferns, midfielder Cathal Darcy, who was ruled out due to a hand injury and forwards Gearóid Cahill and Conor Tierney.
They were replaced by Sean Crowley, Bradley Higgins, Eoin Fitzpatrick, Riain Considine and Paul Corry.
Limerick raced into a four-point lead after 11 minutes, all four scores coming from their impressive centre-forward Paul O’Brien.
A further two minutes had elapsed before Clare opened their account through Tiernan Agnew. He added three more in the next 10 minutes to level the game at 0-4 each.
Points were exchanged before the visitors opened a two-point margin with four minutes to go.
Tiernan Agnew from a free and an excellent score from Gary Cooney, captain of the side in the absence of Cian McInerney, tied up the game again at 0-7 each, as Tipperary referee Philip Kelly sounded the half-time whistle. Just six seconds of injury time was played.
Clare returned with Conor Tierney in their attack in place of Paul Corry, but it was Limerick who scored first, Paul O’Brien adding to his tally.
The half was eight minutes old before Clare hit the front for the first time through Gary Cooney. Agnew then landed another free to double the home side’s advantage.
Limerick responded with a brace and the sides were level with just under 10 minutes to play. When Clare opened a three-point lead in as many minutes, a place in the final beckoned but the Anthony Daly-coached Limerick came storming back with three in-a-row to leave the sides level at 0-14 each at the end of normal time.
Each side managed two points in the first period of extra time, by which time they had been level on no less than nine occasions.
Limerick hit the front in the second period but a point from Tiernan Agnew levelled the tie again, before Gary Cooney gave Clare a lead they would not relinquish. Cooney struck again in the final minute to seal a tremendous victory.
Clare: Eamonn Foudy (Inagh-Kilnamona); Sean Crowley (Kilmihil), Ross Hayes (Crusheen), Bradley Higgins (Kilmaley); Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe, 0-1), Cian Minogue (Bodyke), Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona, 0-1); Keith White (Inagh-Kilnamona), Lee Brack (Clarecastle); Tiernan Agnew (Sixmilebridge, 0-10), Riain Considine (Cratloe), Eoin Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona); Paul Corry (Sixmilebridge), Gary Cooney (O’Callaghan’s Mills, 0-4), Breffni Horner (Crusheen, 0-1).
Subs: Conor Tierney (Doora-Barefield) for Corry; Colin Haugh (Ruan) for Considine; Gearóid Cahill (Corofin, 0-1) for E Fitzgerald; Cian McInerney (Inagh-Kilnamona) for Crowley (inj); Eoghan Wallace (Clarecastle) for Ryan (inj); Tom O’Rourke (Kilmaley) for Brack in extra-time; Killian Mc Dermott (Clarecastle) for White in extra-time.
Limerick: Daithi Heffernan; Conor Flahive, Conor Nicholas, Ciaran Barry; Mikey O’Brien (0-1), Jerome Boylan, Kevin Boner; Dan Minehan (0-1), Michael O’Grady; Paul O’Riordan, Paul O’Brien (0-9), David Woulfe (0-4); Dylan O’Shea (0-1), Ronan Connolly (0-1), Gearóid Barry.
Subs: Brian O’Grady for O’Riordan; Ryan Tobin for Barry; Rory Duff for M O’Grady.
Referee: Philip Kelly, Tipperary.