Limerick 1-28 Clare 1-15
A blistering opening half display provided the foundation for Limerick to ease their way into the Munster Under-21 final by a 13-point margin.
Limerick led by 1-15 to 1-05 at the interval and would have been even further ahead had they not squandered a host of goal chances.
But Clare never looked like getting back in the contest and a disappointing week for the Banner was completed as Limerick ran out deserving winners.
Even after six minutes of this game it was clear to see who the dominant team was a Limerick reeled off a rapid-fire 1-04 to take a giant step towards the provincial final.
A super Thomas Grimes score from the left got Limerick off the mark after 45 seconds and although Colin Corbett got Clare up and running a minute later, Aaron Gillane tapped over his first point of his 14 points in the third minute to give Limerick the lead again.
Having played the full 70 minutes for the Clare seniors against Cork in the Munster final, David Fitzgerald started at right half-forward for Clare, although he soon drooped back as a third midfielder, which created a spare man in front of the Limerick full-back line.
Kyle Hayes found himself unmarked for long stretches early on, so when Clare continued to rain balls down on top of him it proved a launch pad for several Limerick attacks.
Around the middle part of the half Gillane was unmarkable though. Con Smyth was the unfortunate Clare man charged with silencing him, and after the Patrickswell player had scored six points for his side Smyth was hauled off.
The crucial score was Peter Casey’s goal after six minutes, which he finished superbly after he was pulled to the ground by Conor O’Halloran, but got up to score thanks to the good advantage played by referee Cathal McAllister.
After 10 minutes Limerick led by 1-07 to 0-02, and it seemed as if Billy Connors’ goal a minute later would settle Clare. But instead Gillane hit the next four points as Limerick took over again.
They were not faultless though and Casey, Gillane and captain Tom Morrissey all missed good goal chances in the opening half, but a 1-14 to 1-05 lead was the least they deserved.
Morrissey should have found the net again just after the restart but his shot flew over the bar.
However, Clare responded well and there were hopes of a revival as they sent over a string of points to cut Limerick’s lead to five points.
But with Colin Ryan inspirational at midfield – he hit three great points in the second period – Limerick settled themselves and ran out easy winners.
They will now face either Waterford or Cork — who meet on Thursday evening at Walsh Park — in the final.
Limerick: E McNamara; S Finn, D Fanning, D Joy; R Lynch (0-01), K Hayes, T Grimes (0-01); C Ryan (0-03), R Hanley (0-02); A Gillane (0-14, 0-05f, 0-01 ’65), B Murphy (0-01), C Lynch (0-01); P Casey (1-00), T Morrissey (0-02), B Nash (0-02). Subs: C Boylan for Murphy (40 mins), A La Touche Cosgrave for Grimes (42 mins), C McSweeney for Finn (51 mins), P Ahern (0-01) for Morrissey (53 mins), O O’Reilly for Casey (56 mins).
Clare: K Nugent; C O’Halloran, D Walsh, C Cooney; C Smyth, B O’Gorman, R Hayes (0-01); J McCarthy, M O’Malley (0-01); D Fitzgerald (0-02), C Corbett (0-02), B Cahill (0-01); I Galvin (0-05, 0-04f), A Shanagher (0-01), B Connors (1-00). Subs: M Moloney for Smyth (18 mins), M O’Shea (0-01) for Corbett (40 mins), P O’Loughlin (0-01) for Hayes (42 mins), C Noonan for Cahill (56 mins), J Cunningham for B O’Gorman (59 mins).
Ref – C McAllister (Cork)