/ GAA

Clare 1-22 Limerick 0-18

Updated: Monday, 19 Aug 2013 14:09 | Comments

Clare will meet Cork in the final on 8 September Padraig Collins celebrates Clare's goal
Clare will meet Cork in the final on 8 September Padraig Collins celebrates Clare's goal

Clare have booked a place in their first All-Ireland SHC final since 2002 with an excellent 1-22 to 0-18 win against Munster rivals Limerick at Croke Park.

Davy Fitzgerald's charges led from start to finish in this game as Munster champions Limerick found it hard to cope with their neighbours.

Clare led by 1-10 to 0-06 at half-time, with a 13th-minute Darach Honan goal putting the Banner County in the driving seat early on.

Paul Browne and Gavin O'Mahony were among those who kept Limerick in touch, but John Allen's side had a huge task on their hands in the second half.

Limerick cut the gap to four points inside four minutes of the restart, but Clare always held that extra edge.

With 22 minutes remaining the gap was cut to three points but this was as close as it got.

Clare kicked on with points from Colm Galvin, Padraig Collins, Colin Ryan and Tony Kelly - with the Banner side also standing strong in defence throughout.

After their minor's extra-time loss to Galway in the opening game of the day, Limerick supporters were hoping that there was more to come from their senior troops, bidding for a first All-Ireland final appearance since 2007.

For Clare, 18 of their squad picked up Munster Under-21 medals in the past fortnight, with many in the Banner camp stating that this All-Ireland semi-final appearance was very much bonus territory for their side.

But when you are in the last-three, there's no question that there's hunger and drive for more and that's what this Clare side showed as they played with great exuberance right from the off.

Both teams lined out as named midweek, with Clare first to settle.

After an early wide from Declan Hannon into the Hill 16 end from a free in the opening minute, Banner captain Patrick Donnellan opened the scoring. Clare raced 0-02 to 0-00 ahead after six minutes, with Patrick O'Connor on target.

Limerick were wasteful early on, with Hannon's early miss followed up by a similar misfired chance from O'Mahony, while Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly pulled off a fine early save from a Graeme Mulcahy shot.

The Munster champions eventually opened their account in the ninth minute, with Hannon composed from a long-range free.

However, Limerick continued to be wasteful in front of the posts, and it wasn't long before Clare bagged the only goal of the game.

The Limerick defence have come under huge pressure, with Pat Donnellan sending the ball towards goal. Goalkeeper Nickie Quaid had a chance of controlling the sliothar, but Darach Honan pounced to finish the ball to the net.

Ryan extended Clare's lead to five points at the end of the opening quarter, and despite Limerick yet again having chances for scores, they were simply unable to convert.

Hannon eventually settled both himself and Limerick with a pointed free, but this was cancelled out by Podge Collins.

Limerick had a chance to cut the gap, but the umpires ruled out a James Ryan point shot, which looked to have gone over the crossbar.

With Hawk-Eye stood down because of controversy in the minor game, it was up to the referee to overrule his umpires and this they did, as the gap was cut to four points.

Clare bounced back to take a 1-08 to 0-05 lead with five minutes to go before the break, with Collins taking their latest score.

Kelly and O'Mahony traded points, before Hannon again had a chance to cut the gap for Limerick from a placed ball, but again the Under-21 player saw his shot go wayward of the posts.

Dowling also had a chance to cut the gap before the break, but failed in front of the posts, as Clare took a 1-10 to 0-06 interval lead.

Limerick worked hard after the restart, recording the first three scores of the half, with a trio of points from the stick of Dowling.

But Ryan was razor-sharp in front of the posts, and coupled with the scoring efforts of Tony Kelly, Clare moved into a 1-16 to 0-11 lead after 53 minutes.

With the game now in the final quarter, Limerick firmly needed to up their game as they slowly came into contention, thanks to the efforts of David Breen and Dowling.

Another Ryan point pushed Clare 1-18 to 0-13 ahead with 13 minutes remaining, but Limerick continued to work hard.

O'Mahony, Dowling and substitute Thomas Ryan helped to cut the deficit to five points with three minutes left on the clock.

Limerick continued to cause the Clare defence problems late on, with Dowling drilling a free in from outside the 21.

However, his effort once again failed to get near the posts, this time the stick of Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly denying Dowling of a much-needed score in the 68th minute.

Clare finished this game strongly, with two points from Colin Ryan ensuring 11 points for the free-taker and a place for his side in an All-Munster All-Ireland final this September at Croke Park.

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