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Clare’s Diarmaid Cahill takes a point from play ahead of Limerick's Ciarán Barry and Paddy O'Donovan. Photography by Eugene McCafferty Clare 1-19 Limerick 2-21

More clinical Limerick take opening derby spoils

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Munster Hurling League Group A Round 1

Limerick 2-21 Clare 1-19

The first Shannonside derby spoils went the All-Ireland champions’ way after holding off hosts Clare in the chilly night air of Clarecastle’s new astro facility which had a capacity 1,500 attendance, writes Eoin Brennan.

A late goal in each half proved crucial in maintaining Limerick’s advantage, with an injury-time first coming against the run of play to hand Limerick a 1-10 to 0-10 interval cushion.

Both sides were extremely experimental though so not much could be read into any tactical gameplay, instead the inordinate wide count on both sides (Clare 18, Limerick 14) perhaps indicative of their first competitive outing of 2024.

That said, Clare’s greater profligacy was notable in the second period as they frustratingly looked to close the gap and ironically while they struggled to create any clearcut goal chances, a late consolation came by means of a large dollop of fortune as goalkeeper Eamon Foudy’s monster free from his own half was spilled by his counterpart Jamie Power on the 70 minute mark.

With only four of the 24 players on show for the Banner were survivors from their last outing against Kilkenny in Croke Park in the All-Ireland Semi-Final last summer, the competition for places in the squad for the impending National League took precedence.

Experienced duo Diarmuid Ryan and David Reidy led by example but there were also impressive showings from Cian Galvin, Ross Hayes, Darragh Lohan, Mark Rodgers, Davie Conroy, Keith Smyth, Gearoid Sheedy and Paddy Donnellan who kept up the fight until the final whistle.

Captain Dan Morrissey, Colin Coughlan, Cathal O’Neill, Adam English and Patrick O’Donovan stood out for Limerick as did Shane O’Brien who had a real mixed night in front of the posts in hitting four points from twelve attempts.

John Kiely’s side started the brighter as they peppered the home posts with a series of wides and points to power 0-7 to 0-3 clear by the end of the opening quarter while also seeing a Shane O’Brien shot blocked by Darragh Lohan.

Clare finally settled into their stride as the half progressed, hitting five points in as many minutes through as many different players (Mark Rodgers, David Reidy, Keith Smyth, Davie Conroy and Diarmuid Cahill) to actually nudge in front to edge in front for the first time in almost half an hour at 0-10 to 0-9 by the 33rd minute.

A Colin Coughlan equaliser allied to an injury-time counterattack goal teed up by Adam English for Cathal O’Neill to race through and find the net proved a decisive sucker-punch for the home side just before the break at 1-10 to 0-10.

With Patrick O’Donovan punishing every indiscretion at one end while Clare switched between four attacking freetakers, the gap only widened on the resumption as seven points separated the sides by the 50th minute.

A three point burst through Smyth (2) and Davie Conroy did make things interesting at the turn of the final quarter at 1-17 to 0-16 but Clare were too light and nice up front and inconsistent in front of the posts to sustain a backlash as instead Limerick fired the next four points, two from O’Brien, to put the tie to bed entering the final ten minutes at 1-21 to 0-16.

Things would get worse for Clare when Eamonn Foudy’s excellent full length save to deny O’Brien was returned with interest to the net by substitute Jack Flynn to put ten points between the sides by the 66th minute.

Credit the Banner though for not dropping their heads as Foudy’s fortuitous goal from 90 metres was capped off by points for Conroy and debutant Keelan Hartigan to leave the final scoreline more realistic.

Clare will have to pick up the pieces fast as a trip to Páirc Uí Rinn is imminent against Cork on Sunday, with both sides looking to get off the mark ahead of the National League opening round rematch in Ennis three weeks later. (2pm)

Limerick: Jamie Power (Monaleen); Fergal O’Connor (Effin), Dan Morrissey (Ahane), Emmet McEvoy (Na Piarsaigh); Mark Quinlan (Garryspillane), Ethan Hurley (Newcastle West), Ciaran Barry (Ahane); Barry Murphy (Doon), Colin Coughlan (Ballybrown); Micheál Houlihan (Kilmallock), Patrick O’Donovan (Effin), Cathal O’Neill (Crecora/Manister); Donnacha Ó Dálaigh (Monaleen), Shane O’Brien (Kilmallock), Adam English (Doon)

Subs: Aaron Costello (Kilmallock) for O’Connor (HT), David Fitzgerald (Kildimo/Pallaskenry) for Quinlan (HT), Joe Fitzgerald (Monaleen) for Murphy (HT), Luke Flynn (Granagh/Ballingarry) for English (49), Liam Lynch (Mungret/St Paul’s) for O’Neill (54), Oisin O’Reilly (Kilmallock) for Ó Dálaigh (56), Mike Keane (Adare) for McEvoy (61), Darragh Langan (Monaleen) for Barry (61)

Scorers: Patrick O’Donovan (0-7, 5f); Shane O’Brien (0-4); Cathal O’Neill (1-1); Luke Flynn (1-0); Donnacha Ó Dalaigh, Colin Coughlan, Adam English (0-2 each); Mark Quinlan, Barry Murphy, Micheál Houlihan (0-1 each)

Clare: Eamonn Foudy (Inagh-Kilnamona); John Conneally (Clooney-Quin), Conor Leen (Corofin), Paul Flanagan (Ballyea); Cian Galvin (Clarecastle), Conn Smyth (Feakle), Darragh Lohan (Wolfe Tones); Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), Shane Meehan (Banner); Colm O’Meara (Clonlara), Davie Conroy (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), Keith Smyth (Killanena); Diarmuid Cahill (Corofin), Mark Rodgers (Scariff), David Reidy (Éire Óg)

Subs: Ross Hayes (Crusheen) for Leen (16, inj), Steven Conway (Feakle) for Cahill (HT), Gearoid Sheedy (Ogonnelloe) for O’Meara (HT), Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin) for Rodgers (HT), Keelan Hartigan (Scariff) for Meehan (47), Paddy Donnellan (Broadford) for Smyth (49), Jack Kirwan (Parteen-Meelick) for Reidy (57), David Tuohy (Clarecastle) for Flanagan (57), Dylan McMahon (Clonlara) for Lohan (63, inj)

Scorers: Mark Rodgers (3f), Davie Conroy (1f) (0-4 each); David Reidy (1’65), Keith Smyth (1f) (0-3 each); Eamonn Foudy (1-0f); Shane Meehan (0-2); Diarmuid Cahill, Paddy Donnellan, Keelan Hartigan (0-1 each)

Referee: Alan Tierney (Tipperary)

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