By Páraic McMahon
A live recording of RTÉ’s Sunday Miscellany as part of the Ennis Book Club Festival provided pre-match entertainment in the form of literature and laughs in glór while 450m away in Cusack Park it was on-field drama that set the pulses racing.
In what was the only Division 1A tie to survive the weather, Clare and Limerick gave a flavour of what to expect come the summer when the championship commences.
Tony Kelly and Shane Golden were on target early on in a positive start for Clare but an error in their back-line was punished by the lively Gearoid Hegarty. He pounced on a mis-timed pass from David McInerney and burst away from the Banner defence before collecting the opening goal of the game.
In what were difficult conditions, scores were hard to come by, Peter Duggan would take a while to warm up with four missed frees while Aaron Gillane’s accuracy allowed Limerick build up a half-time lead of four points.
Within two minutes of the second half, Clare were on level terms with the tireless Shane Golden goaling while substitute Gary Cooney raised the white flag. Two Gillane frees followed along with a point from the very impressive Peter Casey.
All Star Peter Duggan put the hosts in front in the closing moments, Golden offloaded to him on the 21 metre line and the Clooney/Quin attacker powered past the Limerick defence and his shot eluded Nicky Quaid to roaring applause from the Clare contingent in the 8,408 attendance.
Gillane and Duggan traded scores before the Mary Immaculate College student converted two late frees to earn the draw.
While John Kiely’s Limerick had already advanced to the quarter-finals of the League, this test was a positive one apart from the early injury to Sean Finn. Cian Lynch swept up possession after possession in the middle third while Peter Casey was prolific up front.
Worryingly for Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor, no member of their inside line registered a score in this outing. At the other end, their full back line were under immense pressure and duly struggled, Shane Golden was their best player over the seventy minutes. They now rely on other results to determine if they make the quarter-finals.
Clare: Donal Tuohy; Rory Hayes, David McInerney, Jack Browne; David Fitzgerald, Conor Cleary, Patrick O’Connor ; Shane Golden (1-01), Colm Galvin; Peter Duggan (1-06 0-06f), Tony Kelly (0-01), Diarmuid Ryan (0-02); Podge Collins, Niall Deasy, Ian Galvin.
Subs: Gary Cooney (0-01) for I Galvin (35), Oisin O’Brien for McInerney (HT), Cathal Malone for O’Connor (51), Aidan McCarthy for Deasy (55), Aron Shanagher for Ryan (65)
Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Richie English, Sean Finn, Tom Condon ; Paddy O’Loughlin (0-01), Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Cian Lynch, Colin Ryan (0-01 0-01’65); Gearoid Hegarty (1-00), Kyle Hayes (0-01), Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane (0-08, 0-08f), Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey (0-03).
Subs: William O’Meara for Finn (6) Inj, Darragh O’Donovan for Ryan (49), Graeme Mulcahy for Flanagan (58), David Dempsey for Hegarty (62), Shane Dowling for T Morrissey (65).
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)