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Clare take slim win over Limerick

By Declan Rooney at Gaelic Grounds | Updated: Sunday, 24 Jan 2016 15:04 | Comments

Limerick's Cian Lynch tackles Conor Cleary of Clare
Limerick's Cian Lynch tackles Conor Cleary of Clare

Clare 0-18 Limerick 0-17

Substitute Cathal O'Connell hit two points in the last three minutes to hand Clare victory over Limerick in the Munster senior hurling league final at the Gaelic Grounds.

A storming second-half saw Limerick recover from a four-point deficit to draw level with four minutes remaining, but O'Connell's brace just after his introduction sealed the win for Davy Fitzgerald's side.

Just before O'Connell's late heroics, Limerick could have taken a big step towards victory but goalkeeper Andrew Fahy pulled off a great save to deny Kevin O'Brien a goal. Limerick immediately drew level through Barry Nash's fourth point from play, but in the end Clare took a deserved win.

It was clear that this was a typical early season warm-up from the off. Both sides mixed excellent play with some poor decision making and execution at times; they shared 22 wides between them, but a sharper Clare, whose movement up front was excellent, won out in the end.

Limerick had started the brighter of the two teams and raced into a 0-5 to 0-1 advantage by the 12th minute. Full-forward Declan Hannon hit two points in that spell, but he also fired two frees wide as Limerick didn’t gain the maximum return from their period of real dominance.

Clare's response was lethal as Peter Duggan's and John Conlan's influence grew and four points between the 14th and 16th minutes saw the Banner men take the lead for the first time.

With six of last year's U-21 All-Ireland winning side in the starting line-up, Limerick boss TJ Ryan was clearly looking to youth to fill the void of his Na Piarsaigh contingent and a great point form one of them, Barry Nash, drew Limerick level soon after.

Paul Browne and Hannon edged Limerick ahead by the 30th minute, but Clare finished the game the stronger of the two sides and took a 0-12 to 0-10 lead into the break as Conlon, Peter Duggan and Conor Cleary all hit the target.

Seven minutes after the break the Clare lead had stretched out to four points as Peter and Bobby Duggan both hit scores and Colin Ryan kept up his good work from frees.

But as both managers made changes, it was Limerick that looked the hungrier. Nash was superb again in the 47th minute to put two points between the sides and with nine minutes to go Cian Lynch picked out Hannon with a great pass and the full-forward put one between the sides.

Substitute Kevin O'Brien should have done better with his shot on goal in the 65th minute, but Nash was on hand to level the game straight away, but Clare finished strongly, and O'Connell stole the headlines with two fine points late on.

Earlier today, Waterford defeated Kerry 0-17 to 0-08 in a dead-rubber Munster SHL match at Fitzgerald Stadium.

Allianz Division 1 League champions Waterford lead the match throughout, with Maurice Shanahan scoring the first three points of the day to set the tone.

Both teams will meet again tomorrow for a challenge game.

CLARE: A Fahy; J Browne, P O'Connor, P Flanagan; C Dillon (0-01), D McInerney, C Cleary (0-01); G O'Connell, D Reidy; P Duggan (0-03), C Ryan (0-05, 0-03f), D Fitzgerald (0-01); J Conlon (0-02), D Honan, B Duggan (0-03).

Subs used: T Kelly for Fitzgerald (43 mins), B Bugler for Dillon (47),S Golden for G O’Connell 63, C O’Connell (0-02) for Honan (65), C McGrath for Ryan (68).

LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Finn, D Morrissey, R English; P O'Brien, B O'Connell, S Hickey; P Browne (0-02), J Ryan; D O'Donovan (0-01), G O'Mahony, C Lynch (0-02); G Mulcahy, D Hannon (0-07, 0-03f), B Nash (0-04).

Subs used: T Morrissey for Mulcahy, R McCarthy for O’Brien (both half-time), P Ryan (0-01) for Browne (42 mins), S Tobin for O’Donovan (51), K O’Brien for O’Mahony (63).

Referee: N Wall (Cork).

WATERFORD: Ian O’Regan; Shane Fives, Barry Coughlan, Noel Connors; Shane McNulty, Darragh Fives, Gavin O’Brien; Kevin Moran, Colin Dunford (0-02); Michael Walsh, Shane Bennett, Jake Dillon (0-02); Austin Gleeson (0-02), Maurice Shanahan (0-09, 7f), Patrick Curran (0-02).

KERRY: Aidan McCabe; Sean Weir, Bryan Murphy, Darren Dineen; Daniel Collins, Thomas Casey, Jason Diggins; John Griffin, Johnny Buckley; Colm Harty, Pa Kelly, Shane Nolan (0-03, 3f); Keith Carmody, Michael O’Leary, Jordan Conway. Subs: Philip Lucid (0-04, 4f) for Kelly (HT); Mikey Boyle for O’Leary (HT); Michael O’Leary for Nolan (48); James O’Connor for Harty (51); Jack Goulding (0-01) for Buckley.

Referee: Jason Mullins (Limerick)

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