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Diarmaid Byrnes of Limerick in action against Peter Duggan of Clare during their Munster Senior Championship game at Cusack Park, Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly

No de-nine Limerick as champions floor Banner

Munster Senior Hurling Championship Round 1
Limerick 3-15 Clare 1-18

Early sunstroke for Clare after being blitzed by three final quarter Limerick goals in an unprecedented 12 point turnaround in Ennis, writes Eoin Brennan.
In what seemed the real start of the summer amidst soaring temperatures in a capacity 20,055 Cusack Park, Clare seemed to be on track for a rousing opening derby victory when soaring nine clear by the turn of the final quarter.
With talisman Tony Kelly also subsequently introduced, the script was written for an early statement of intent from the recently crowned National League champions. However, much like their flooring opening round reverse to a five goal Tipperary this time last year, Clare would be largely the architects of their own downfall as not only were they outscored by 3-6 to 0-3 in a war-weary finish but all three goals were emininently preventable.
It makes their trip to Supervalu Páirc Uí Chaoimh next Sunday all the more significant as from a position of utter dominance, they are now teetering on the brink of an early Munster Championship exit in only the first week.
When the dust does settle on this deflating opening defeat, Brian Lohan can reflect on a hugely encouraging performance for the majority as they frustrated Limerick into 16 wides at the back while clincially punishing at the other end.
Limerick did start with clear intent with two Aaron Gillane goal chances in the first three minute alone but once the Banner weathered the early storm at 0-4 to 0-2, they soon raced into the ascendancy.
Mark Rodgers had a goal chance saved by Nickie Quaid but the rampant Aidan McCarthy raided for seven frees before also emphatically finishing a brilliant Shane O’Donnell centre to the net in the 29th minute on the home side’s way to a 1-10 to 0-8 interval advantage.
With Limerick’s woes continuing on the resmuption, a sole Aaron Gillane free was offset by home points for Rodgers (2), David Fitzgerald, Aidan McCarthy and substitute Seadna Morey to power 1-15 to 0-9 clear by the 52nd minute.
It still wasn’t sufficient to deter the five-in-a-row provincial champions though who clawed their way back into contention mainly through Aaron Gillane’s free before getting a huge dollop of fortune when Diarmaid Byrnes’ free from 65 metre somehow ended up in the net entering the final ten minutes at 1-16 to 1-13.
With no immediate response, Limerick only grew in stature and would remarkably hit the front for the first time in 40 minutes when substitute Donnacha Ó Dalaigh punished following a one-two with Gearoid Hegarty at 2-14 to 1-16 in the 65th minute.
Clare barely had time to lift their jaws off the floor when the killer blow arrived in the next passage of play when Gearoid Hegarty’s powerful strike was flicked to the net at the back post by Aaron Gillane.
While this is a bitter pill to swallow, Clare need to put this devastating result behind them as their championship hopes rest on an immediate response against Cork next Sunday.

Limerick: Nickie Quaid (Effin); Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh), Dan Morrissey (Ahane), Barry Nash (South Liberties); Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell), Declan Hannon (Adare), Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry): William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh), Cian Lynch (Patrickswell); Gearoid Hegarty (St Patrick’s), Tom Morrissey (Ahane), Cathal O’Neill (Crecora Manister); Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh/Castlemahon), Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell), David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca)
Subs: Sean Finn (Bruff) for Casey (5, inj), Donnacha Ó Dalaigh (Monaleen) for Flanagan (45), Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for T. Morrissey (48), Adam English (Doon) for O’Donoghue (59), Aidan O’Connor (Ballybrown) for Gillane (67)

Aaron Gillane (1-5, 5f); Donnacha Ó Dalaigh (1-1); Gearoid Hegarty (0-3); Diarmaid Byrnes (1-0f); Cathal O’Neill, David Reidy (0-2 each); Kyle Hayes, Cian Lynch (0-1 each)

Clare: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle); Adam Hogan (Feakle), Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones); Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), John Conlon (Clonlara), David McInerney (Tulla); Darragh Lohan (Wolfe Tones), Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge); David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona), David Reidy (Éire Óg), Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin); Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona), Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg), Mark Rodgers (Scariff)
Subs: Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge) for Lohan (HT), Tony Kelly (Ballyea) for Reidy (54), Paul Flanagan (Ballyea) for Hayes (58), Shane Meehan (Banner) for Rodgers (62), Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones) for Fitzgerald (69)

Scorers: Aidan McCarthy (1-10, 8f); David Fitzgerald, Mark Rodgers, Tony Kelly (f) (0-2 each); Shane O’Donnell, Seadna Morey (0-1 each)

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)

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