THE Clare footballers didn’t match the heights of their league form but they did just enough to edge past Limerick and into a Munster semi-final meeting with Kerry in Killarney in two weeks time. The game was played a pedestrian pace but Clare’s greater scoring spread eventually divided the teams.
A minute into injury time Limerick’s Danny Neville reduced the deficit to just two points, 0-15 to 0-13 but a minute later Clare’s Jamie Malone put over his sides and the games final score.
Limerick did mount a last attack but Joe Hayes was very solid under dropping ball which had been delivered by Peter Nash.
Following a very poor first half, in the sides kicked 13 wides between them, Clare led 0-5 to 0-4. Substitute Podge Collins, who replaced the injured Cathal O’Connor in the 33rd minute, kicked Clare a point ahead in first half injury time.
Limerick edged the first ten minutes in terms of creating scoring chances but couldn’t score with Brian Donovan, Garrett Noonan, Seanie Buckley, Paul White and Brian Fanning all contributing to their wides tally.
Clare could have goaled in the seventh minute when Keelan Sexton shot wide after nice build up play involving David Tubridy and Jamie Malone.
Points from an Ian Ryan free and Cian Sheehan helped the home county into a 0-2 to 0-0 lead, before Cathal O’Connor put over Clare’s first point, having missed a good chance minutes earlier.
Keelan Sexton, Seán Collins and David Tubridy from a free, put over Clare’s next three points before Podge Collins effort just before half-time. Ian Ryan added a further pointed free for Limerick with Cian Sheehan and Seanie Buckley adding their points from play. The opening 35 minutes were ponderous and slow with Clare playing with nowhere closet to the fluency evident in their league final defeat of Kildare in Croke Park.
However they did start the second half with somewhat more urgency. Keelan Sexton and Eoin Cleary kicked them 0-7 to 0-4 ahead. Cleary added a further point from play while Jamie Malone put over three second half points from the half forward line. Podge Collins, Shane McGrath, David Tubridy with one from play and another from a free and Gary Brennan, completed Clare’s second half scoring tally.
Cathal O’Connor confirmed afterwards that he should be fit for the semi-final. He was replaced by Podge Collins just before half time, having picked up a bang on the arm.
Clare will hope to up the pace and quality of their game for the Munster semi-final. They will have to do so if they are to match the 2015 All-Ireland finalists.
Clare: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey); Dean Ryan (Éire Óg), Kevin Harnett (Meelick), Martin McMahon (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Seán Collins (Cratloe), Gordon Kelly (St Joseph’s, Miltown), Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora); Gary Brennan (Clondegad-captain), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen); Eoin Cleary ((Miltown), Jamie Malone (Corofin), Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare); Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane), David Tubridy (Doonbeg), Pat Burke (Kilmacud Crokes).
Subs: Podge Collins for Cathal O’Connor (inj-33), Shane McGrath (Thomas Davis) for Pearse Lillis (48), Seanie Malone (St Joseph’s, Miltown) for Gordon Kelly (50-BC), Shane Hickey (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Cian O’Dea, Enda Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Pat Burke (both 57).
Scorers: Jamie Malone (0-3), David Tubridy (0-3, 0-2f), Podge Collins, Eoin Cleary, Keelan Sexton (0-2 each), Cathal O’Connor, Sean Collins, Shane McGrath, Gary Brennan (0-1 each).
Black Card: Gordon Kelly.
Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan; Johnny McCarthy, Padraig Browne, Stephen Cahill; Brian Fanning, Sean O’Dea, Paul White; Cian Sheehan, Darragh Treacy; Garrett Noonan, Peter Nash, Seanie Buckley; Ian Ryan (captain), Danny Neville, Sean McSweeney.
Subs: Eoin Hogan for Sean McSweeeny (29), Killian Ryan for Garrett Noonan (57), Paul Hannon for Brian Fanning (59), Hugh Bourke for Eoin Hogan (64), Cillian Fahy for Paul White (70).
Scorers: Ian Ryan (0-8, 7f), Danny Neville (0-2), Cian Sheehan, Seanie Buckley, Stephen Cahill (0-1 each).