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Ronan Connolly of Limerick in action against Gary Cooney and David Reidy of Clare during their Munster Hurling Cup Final at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly

HURLING: Limerick lay down early derby marker

Munster Hurling Cup Final
Limerick 0-27 Clare 0-18

FIRST blood to Limerick following a commanding derby victory over hosts Clare to cement the Munster Hurling Cup honours on Sunday afternoon, writes Eoin Brennan.

A first Shannonside derby meeting since 2020, the neighbours are scheduled for two more 2022 clashes in Cusack Park over the next four months, with Limerick, backed by only seven of the twenty players that lined out in last August’s All-Ireland Final, seizing control from an early stage and never loosening their grip thereafter.

With almost 50 shots at the posts including a whopping 19 wides, the back-to-back All-Ireland champions remain the side to beat in the country, with a timely barometer given to home side Clare of the standard of physicality, movement and passing required at the top table.
That said, Clare had only six survivors themselves from the team that started against Cork in the All-Ireland Qualifiers last July but while Mark Rodgers was Clare’s most electric player overall allied to a strong opening period from Diarmuid Ryan, there were also scoring senior debuts from the bench for Patrick Crotty and Robin Mounsey.

Limerick meanwhile had ten different scorers, with David Reidy steering the ship predominantly through placed balls (0-12) while Gearoid Hegarty, Richie English, Brian O’Grady, Cathal O’Neill and Darren O’Connell were others to impress in the comprehensive win.

Clare started on top, with David Reidy firing three of the first four points by the seventh minute. However, that was as good as it got for the home side who were firmly on the backfoot for the remainder. A six point unanswered blitz including a brace of booming points from wing-back Colin Coughlan powered Limerick into a lead that they would never look like relinquishing, carving out a 0-17 to 0-9 interval lead before actually stretching the gap to eleven by the 59th minute.

Clare did have their chances to alter the narrative but glorious goal chances for Cathal Malone and substitute Ryan Taylor at the start of the second and third quarters respectively went abegging.

True to form, Clare kept plugging away and thanks to Mounsey (2), Crotty and the tieless Rodgers eventually lowered the arrears to nine. However, while it’s still only January, Clare clearly have much to do to reel in the gap before the acid test of their Munster Championship derby rematch on Sunday, May 8.

Limerick: David McCarthy (Glenroe); Barry Nash (South Liberties) (Captain), Dan Morrissey (Ahane), Richie English (Doon); Colin Coughlan (Ballybrown), Ronan Connolly (Adare), Paddy O’Loughlin (Kilmallock); Brian O’Grady (Kilteely/Dromkeen), William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh), Cathal O’Neill (Crecora Manister), David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca), Gearoid Hegarty (St. Patrick’s); Oisín O’Reilly (Kilmallock), Pat Ryan (Doon), Darren O’Connell (Kildimo/Pallaskenry) Subs: Adam English (Doon) for Ryan (46), Rory Duff (Mungret St. Paul’s) for O’Donoghue (54), Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for Hegarty (54)

David Reidy (0-12, 11f); Darren O’Connell (0-3); Colin Coughlan, Oisin O’Reilly, Brian O’Grady, Adam English (0-2 each); Pat Ryan, Gearoid Hegarty, Richie English, Cathal O’Neill (0-1 each)

Clare: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle); Mike Gough (Smith O’Brien’s), Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), Paul Flanagan (Ballyea); Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), Jason McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona), Aaron Fitzgerald (Éire Óg); Jack Browne (Ballyea), Paddy Donnellan (Broadford); Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge), David Reidy (Éire Óg), Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge); Domhnall McMahon (Michael Cusack’s), Mark Rodgers (Scariff), Gary Cooney (O’Callaghan’s Mills) Subs: Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin) for Golden (HT), David McInerney (Tulla) for Donnellan (HT), Shane Meehan (Banner) for McMahon (44), Darragh Lohan (Wolfe Tones) for Fitzgerald (46), Patrick Crotty (Scariff) for Cooney (53), Robin Mounsey (Ruan) for McCarthy (53)

Scorers: David Reidy (0-9, 6f, 2’65); Diarmuid Ryan, Cathal Malone, Mark Rodgers, Robin Mounsey (1’65) (0-2 each); Patrick Crotty (0-1)

Referee: Conor Doyle (Tipperary)

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