Munster Minor Football Championship Semi-Final
Limerick 3-11 Clare 0-12
CLARE’S hopes of reaching a fourth Munster Minor Final in five years were dashed by a vengeful Limerick who raided for three timely goals to floor their hosts in Cusack Park, Ennis this evening, reports Eoin Brennan.
After eight successive defeats to their neighbours in as many seasons, Limerick were full value for victory as their physical superiority and greater scoring efficiency overpowered Dermot Coughlan’s young side who never recovered from a wasteful opening quarter.
Despite facing into a sizeable breeze, the Banner hit the ground running but seven shots at the posts only yielded a Craig Riordan free by the tenth minute. Those misses would almost be immediately punished when Limerick, in a rare attack, managed to put Emmet Rigter through on goal only for his attempt to ricochet off the crossbar and line before bouncing into the welcome arms of goalkeeper Cian Corry.
A relieved Clare did finally hone their radar with points through Odhran Cunningham and Riordan to take a 0-3 to 0-1 advantage into the water break. However, it would be a complete role reversal for the second quarter as Limerick laid siege on the Clare half to outscore the home side by 1-7 to 0-2.
Captain Darragh Murray led by example with 1-4 of that tally, highlighted by a 23rd minute penalty after Corry’s save from Rigter was controversially adjudged to have been a footblock at 1-5 to 0-4. It would be a decisive moment as a buoyant Limerick grabbed the last three points of the half, two from Murray, to take a 1-8 to 0-5 advantage into the break.
With the wind to come, Clare didn’t panic and got themselves back on track with early singles through Oisin Sexton and Craig Riordan to lower the arrears to four by the two-thirds mark. However, Limerick could afford to sit deep, soak up Clare’s pressure and strike on the counter-attack, a formula that almost resulted in a goal for Conall Ó Duinn, only for Corry to tip his stinging effort over the bar.
Clare wouldn’t be as fortunate four minutes later when towering targetman Ruairi Cronin’s half-blocked shot was finished to the net by Ronan Quirke just before the final water break at 2-10 to 0-08.
And any hopes of a Banner backlash would soon evaporate on the resumption when Rigter produced a brilliant solo run before cooly finishing to the net.
Clare kept up the fight and would be rewarded with three of the last four points, two from Riordan. However, a Conor Meaney goal attempt drifted just wide of the far post while Clare’s disappointing evening was compounded as Sean Rynne received a red card approaching the hour mark.
On the flip side, it was a momentous evening for Limerick as they qualified for their first Munster Minor Football Final since 1998 where they will play Cork on Wednesday week.
Limerick: Craig MacInnes; Culann Quigley, Jamie Behan, Darragh Clifford; Lorcan Murphy, Aaron Neville, Cathal O’Mahony; Jack Somers, Darragh Murray; Marc Nolan, Emmet Rigter, Oisin O’Farrell; Conall Ó Duinn, Ruairi Cronin, Ronan Quirke. Subs: Callum Ryan for Quigley (44), Sean Geraghty for Quirke (46), C Boyle for O’Mahony (47), S Cross for Nolan (54), O O’Sullivan for Ó Duinn (58)
Scorers: Darragh Murray 1-4 (1-0 Pen, 2f, 1’45); Ronan Quirke, Emmet Rigter 1-0 each; Conall Ó Duinn 0-2, Lorcan Murphy, Ruairi Cronin, Jack Somers, Marc Nolan, Sean Geraghty 0-1 each
Clare: Cian Corry (Killimer); Aaron Kelly (Wolfe Tones), James Cullinan (Ennistymon), Brian McNamara (Ennistymon); Odhran Cunningham (Killimer), Diarmuid Comber (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Josh Moloney (Killimer); Dylan O’Brien (Kilrush Shamrocks), Conor Fennell (Kilrush Shamrocks); Conor Meaney (Lissycasey), Sean McMahon (Banner), Oisin Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane); James Doherty (Clarecastle), Craig Riordan (Wolfe Tones), Sean Rynne (Ennistymon). Subs: Cillian Gavin (Clondegad) for Fennell (HT), Lorcan Doolin (Ballyvaughan) for Doherty (46), Sean McMahon (St Joseph’s Miltown) for McMahon (48)
Scorers: Craig Riordan (0-6, 2f, 2’45), Odhran Cunningham, Conor Meaney, Oisin Sexton, Sean Rynne, Dylan O’Brien, Sean McMahon (Miltown) (0-1 each)
Referee: Cormac Dineen (Cork).