Clare copper-fastened their hold over Limerick with a fourth consecutive Munster SFC Quarter-Final victory over their neighbours in front of 2,304 in the Gaelic Grounds this evening.
Only a kick of a ball separated these familiar foes in all their four previous meetings this decade but this time, the Banner County demonstrated their growing reputation with a 12 point win thanks to 13 different scorers.
Facing a defensive wall of green for long periods, Clare had to be patient before finally shaking off their obstinate hosts. Eventually however, their much slicker movement and passing along with some excellent long range shooting ensured that Clare would outscore Limerick by 0-14 to 0-05 in the final 20 minutes to ease into the semi-finals.
The hosts began with five championship debutantes but Clare also introduced six new players to their starting line-up, with goalkeeper Eamon Tubridy, spinal defenders Cillian Brennan and Aaron Fitzgerald, Eoghan Collins and forwards Kieran Malone and Eimhin Courtney all playing their part in a fully merited triumph.
Starting with a cautious, defensive formation, Limerick paid far too much respect to the visitors who led from start to finish without ever really loosening their grip.
Five different point-scorers allowed Clare to carve out an early cushion, with Eoin Cleary (2), Keelan Sexton, David Tubridy and a Jamie Malone effort that had to be tipped over the bar giving their side a 0-6 to 0-1 advantage by the 15th minute.
With the home team at times having no player in the opposition half, Limerick rather invited Clare onto them which proved costly when Jamie Malone fed overlapping newcomer Kieran Malone to power through for the opening goal at the second attempt in the 18th minute.
Now trailing by eight, it forced Limerick to finally come out of their shell and in by far their most adventurous period, Jamie Lee and Danny Neville inspired a mini-revival as the hosts kicked six of the next seven points to slash the arrears to just three by the 28th minute.
And while Clare did bounce back with well-worked points through Kieran Malone and Tubridy, Limerick would pass up a glorious opportunity to eat further into the deficit when Jamie Lee's 30th minute shot was repelled by new goalkeeper Eamon Tubridy from close range.
Clare held a 1-9 to 0-7 interval cushion and in truth, would never look back on the turnover once they converted their opening point in the 47th minute by means of Courtney. A five point unanswered rally followed before Clare also got a boost from the bench for the remainder as substitutes Conor Finucane (2), Gearoid O'Brien, Conal Ó hAiniféin, Martin O'Leary and Gavin Cooney all got in on the scoring action to flesh out the final margin.
Clare's reward is a third successive penultimate stage showdown with Munster five-in-a-row champions Kerry in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney in a fortnight's time.
Clare: Eamon Tubridy; Gordon Kelly, Cillian Brennan, Eoghan Collins; Cian O'Dea, Aaron Fitzgerald, Pearse Lillis (0-01); Gary Brennan, Cathal O'Connor (0-01); Kieran Malone (1-03), Eoin Cleary (0-05), Jamie Malone (0-01); Eimhin Courtney (0-02), Keelan Sexton (0-01), David Tubridy (0-03, 0-01f)
Subs: Conal Ó hAiniféin (0-01) for Kelly (41), Gearoid O'Brien (0-01) for Sexton (57), Gavin Cooney (0-01) for Tubridy (63), Conor Finucane (0-02) for K. Malone (65), Martin O'Leary (0-01) for Courtney (67), Einne O'Connor for Collins (69)
Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan; Paul Maher, Sean O’Dea, David Connolly; Paul White (0-01), Cillian Fahy, Gordon Browne; Darragh Treacy, Michael Fitzgibbon; Danny Neville (0-02), Sean McSweeney (0-05, 0-05f), Gareth Noonan; Jamie Lee (0-03, 0-01f), Patrick Begley; Peter Nash
Subs: Iain Corbett for Nash (45, Black Card), Josh Ryan (0-03, 0-02f) for Begley (49), Killian Ryan for Lee (53), Daniel Daly for Browne (61), Davy Lyons for Fitzgibbon (61), Padraig Scanlon for Neville (63)