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Clare manager Colm Collins. Photograph by John Kelly.

Improving Limerick too slick for Clare

Limerick 2-13 Clare 2-9

If the Clare footballers are to make it back to the final of the McGrath Cup, they will have to rely on Waterford beating Limerick on Sunday and hope that scoring difference falls in their favour. Following their opening group game win over Waterford in Meelick, Clare made 10 changes in personnel for Wednesday’s four point defeat to Limerick in Rhebogue.

In a game played in bitterly cold conditions and featuring a strong cross field breeze, Limerick, who are coached by former Clare mentor Paudie Kissane, looked sharp and confident.

A Darragh Treacy goal helped them to a slender half-time lead, 1-5 to 0-7 and Seamus O’Carroll goal early in the second half was the games decisive score.

O’Carroll netted after the ball bounced over the head of Clare full back John Hayes, allowing the Limerick man to steal inside and plant the ball beyond Joe Hayes.

Clare could have goaled exactly half way through the second half when débutante Gearoid O’Brien was put through by Eoin Cleary. However the Kilrush mans shot was well saved by Limerick goalkeeper Donal O’Sullivan. Limerick won a free out an broke down field. Within half a minute Treacy cut through the middle and with Clare standing off, he finished neatly to the net.

Shane McGrath was the only Clare man to score from play in the first half while Keelan Sexton added 0-5 from frees. A couple of the frees were superbly struck from distance on a very difficult evening for kicking.

It took Clare 21 minutes to manage a second half score. Eoin Cleary pointed from play at that stage but Limerick still led 2-7 to 0-8. Two minutes later Cian O’Dea buried a magnificent goal to bring Clare within two points of their hosts, 12 minutes from time. O’Dea buried his shot from distance in the roof of the Limerick net. The home county, under the management of Billy Lee, responded well though with immediate points from O’Carroll and McSweeney. Indeed a minute from the end of normal time they led 2-13 to 1-9 and were in complete control. However a late Eoin Cleary goal pulled Clare to within four points at the final whistle.

On the balance of play however, Limerick were well worth their win and are clearly approaching the 2016 season with renewed confidence and vigour.

Clare: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey); Darren Nagle (Liscannor), John Hayes (Kilrush), Martin McMahon (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Liam Markham (Cratloe), Gordon Kelly (Miltown), Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora); Gary Brennan (Clondegad) and Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen); Shane Brennan (Clondegad), Shane McGrath (Thomas Davis), Darragh Bolton (Kilrush); Eoin Cleary (Miltown), Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane) and Gearóid O’Brien (Kilrush).

Subs: Jamie Malone (Corofin) for Darragh Bolton, Ciaran Russell (Éire Óg) for Liam Markham, Seán Collins (Cratloe) for Shane McGrath, Seanie Malone (Miltown) for Gearóid O’Brien, Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis) for Darren Nagle, Kieran Malone (Miltown) for Shane Brennan.

Scorers: Keelan Sexton (0-6, 5f), Eoin Cleary (1-2), Cian O’Dea (1-0), Shane McGrath (0-1).

Frees for: 26 wides: 9,

Yellow cards: Ciaran Russell

Red card: Ciaran Russell

Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan (Monaleen); Daniel Daly (Fr Caseys), Johnny McCarthy (St Kierans), Sean O’Dea (Kilteely-Dromkeen); Paul White (Rathkeale), Iain Corbett (Newcastle West), Paul Hannon (Newcastle West); Darragh Treacy (St Kierans), David Ward (Fr Caseys); Peter Nash (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), Ger Collins (Monaleen), Danny Neville (Ballysteen); Sean McSweeney (St Kierans), Seamus O’Carroll (Cappagh), Jamie Lee (Newcastle West).

Subs: Padraig Quinn (Monaleen) for Daniel Daly, James Naughton (St Senans) for Jamie Lee, Brian Fanning (Pallasgreen) for David Ward, Brian Donovan (Monaleen) for Danny Neville, Cillian Fahy (Dromcollogher-Broadford) for Paul Hannon.

Scorers: Seamus O’Carroll (1-4, 2f, 1 45), Seán McSweeney (0-4, 3f), Darragh Treacy (1-0), Danny Neville (0-2), Daniel Daly, Brian Donovan, Paul White (0-1 each).

Frees for: 21 wides: 5, 45s: 1

Yellow cards: Jamie Lee, David Ward, Peter Nash.

Referee: Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry).

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