Munster U-20 Hurling Championship Semi-Final
THERE was no doubting the result in the Gaelic Grounds on Monday night as Clare tried as much as they were allowed against a Limerick side who were stronger and more dominant possessing the key players in the right positions and this sealed a place in the Munster final, reports Michael O’Connor.
Two replacements on the Clare side from the opening round win over Kerry saw William Halpin and Jack Kirwan make way for James Maguire and Robin Mounsey. Clare crowded the half-forward and midfield sector leaving Diarmuid Cahill and Robin Mounsey as a two man inside forward line. Missing from the corresponding fixture from a Clare perspective at minor level due to senior and injury issues were Mark Rodgers, Shane Meehan and Cian Galvin who is out until next year.
Limerick were looking to the talented duo of Cathal O’Neill and Colin Coughlan as the home side had a solid start with scores from Jimmy Quilty and Cathal O’Neill with less than 2 minutes on the clock. Clare free-taker Shane Punch from out near the sideline opened the visitors account before Limerick half forward Adam English made no mistake with a smart effort from play with six minutes action elapsed. Clare team captain Paddy Donnellan sent over a free for his sides second score as Clare were getting to grip with the task in hand. A Cathal O’Neill pointed free created a short lived two point lead for Diarmuid Mullins charges before Shane Punch with two impressive frees from outside the 65 yard line had the sides on level pegging after 11 minutes action at (0-4) apiece and it remained this way until the water break.
Limerick started the second quarter as they had the first with the opening brace of scores from O’Neill and English before Robin Mounsey was off target with his first effort of the contest. The game seemed to drift somewhat from Clare as their influence waned as Cathal O’Neill kept the Limerick fans cheering with another brace of frees, both inside his own 65 yard line. Limerick were attacking the Clare wings with speed bypassing the crowded centre of the field but still most of their scores up this juncture were coming from Clare indiscretions.
Shane Punch once more from a free and Adam English for Limerick left four between the sides after 23 minutes action of what was a game of little real excitement perhaps due to the sweltering heat in the Gaelic Grounds. English became provider with a stunning back handpass to the onrushing Patrick Kirby and the son of Limerick legend Gary Kirby made no mistake for his sides 10th point of the day.
The final Clare score of the half was a booming free from wing back Dylan McMahon but it three more scores for Limerick before the break as O’Neill, Jimmy Quilty and Colin Coughlan were all on the mark. This ensured a very comfortable 0-13 to 0-6 interval lead and quite apparent that Clare required goals to stay in the game. Clare were outscored nine points to two in the second quarter and only one point from play in the first half.
Clare rung a early second half change as Kevin Keane replaced Robin Mounsey as Adam English kept up the scoring rate in the first minute with his fifth point of the day. Shane Punch (2), English and Connor Hegarty with Clare’s second score from play. Clare had reduced the deficit to six points but really required a meaningful goal threat.
Aidan O’Connor (2), Adam English (1) and O’Neill ensured that Limerick were in control of the third quarter despite an improved effort by Sean Doyle’s side. Connor Hegarty and another brace from Shane Punch as Limerick led (0-19) (0-12) entering the final quarter of a game that was unable to lift itself above the ordinary as a contest.
A Kyle Hayes type goal was created and executed by man of the match Adam English as shades of the minor display of five days previous was now evident in Pairc na nGael. Prior to this goal Limerick added scores from O’Neill (2) and Aidan O’Connor. Clare corner back Mike Gough scored a brilliant effort as did Oisin O’Donnell with his back to goal. The final Clare score of the evening fell to Connor Hegarty as Limerick ran out the easiest of winners, finishing 13 points clear of their rivals.
CLARE: Cian Broderick (Clarecastle), Mike Gough (Smith O’Briens) (0-1), Darragh Healy (Clarecastle), Adam Hogan (Feakle), Adam Mungovan, Aidan Moriarty, Dylan McMahon (Clonlara) (0-1), Paddy Donnellan (Broadford)(0-1), Colm O’Meara (Clonlara), Oisin O’Donnell (Crusheen) (0-1), Shane Punch (0-9), Conor Hegarty (0-3), James Maguire Diarmuid Cahill (0-1), Robin Mounsey. Subs: William Halpin (Tulla) for Maguire, Keelan Guyler (Inagh/Kilnamona) for Halpin, Jack Kirwan (Parteen) for O’Meara,
LIMERICK: Conor O’Neill, Chris Thomas, Padraig Harnett, Michael Keane, Emmet McEvoy, Colin Coughlan (0-1), Cormac Ryan, Jimmy Quilty (capt) (0-2), Patrick Kirby (0-1), Diarmuid Hegarty, Cathal O’Neill (0-11), Adam English (1-6), Bryan Nix, Aidan O’Connor (0-4), Donnacha O’Dalaigh. Subs: Cathal Downes (0-2) for Kirby, Eddie Stokes for Hegarty, Ronan Fox for O’Dalaigh, Liam Lynch for Nix, Patrick Reale for English,
Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary)