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Clare 2-13 (19) Limerick 4-12 (24)
Limerick are the 2011 Division two champions after a strong finish that saw they fight point from a point down to score 1-3 in the final 5 minutes to seal their return to the 1st Division. Donal O’Grady’s men will now head into the Championship in fine fettle are they secured their eight straight win with a 4-12 to 2-13 win.
In an exciting and end to end game, Clare came out all guns blazing and raced in to a two point lead however Limerick responded with the first of their 4 goals, Sean Tobin with a fine finish past Tuohy in the Clare goal. Clare were dominating but Limerick were keeping them within distance although it took then 18 minutes to register their first point, Richie McCarthy scoring.
Clare had looked set for a 2 point lead going into half time, however Limerick suddenly stepped up a level and scored a bizarre and unlikely goal when O’Grady’s hopeful shot from distance was scuffed by Tuohy in the Clare goal under pressure from Tobin with the ball going over the line.
The goal gave Limerick the kick start they needed and they added two more points to head in at half time 4 points ahead.
The Ger O’Loughlin’s half time team talk had the desired effect as once again Clare started the half stronger scoring almost immediately through their sub Honan. Clare level soon after and then the lead swapped hands on a number occasions before McGrath scored Clare’s second goal with a fine finish. Clare were again dominating but Limerick were able to step up a gear at will and scored their third goal on 53 minutes, Hannon with a fine finish.
The game was end to end and similar to the first half Clare went into the final 5 minutes ahead although the margin was a point this time however to the Banner county’s dismay Limerick once again stepped up a level Downes with a fine solo effort, coming in front the right to finish with aplomb. Clare’s head dropped and Limerick took over adding 2 more points to break Clare hearts and seal their return to top flight hurling.
Thats it, Limerick are division two champions and are back in the big time. Strong finishes at the end of both halves sealed the win in an entertaining game.
71min 2 minutes to be added, and Limerick increase their lead with a point from Moran
70min We’re in time added on, Limerick are almost bound for division one
69min Another great block, hurley’s are flying around out there
68min From one down to 4 ahead, Limerick in control. Slightly harsh on Clare but Limerick have been clinical. They are defending stoutly now, great double block
66min Fantastic goal from Downes, Limerick finishing stronger again, they score a point straight from puck out
65min Can Limerick level it and force extra time.. they have, 5 min to go, big point from Browne
62min big shot from distance from Niall Moran but it goes wide, had the distance just drifted. The crowd didn’t like that, he had space
61min Reale was also booked for his part in the Morey incident.
60min O’Grady with a lovely point, 1 point game again. Limerick have upped a level again and are fighting harder for the 50/50’s
59min 11min to go and there are 2 points in it. Sub Morey is booked a minute after coming on following a clash with Reale
55min Clare go two ahead with an effort from Conlon. Some game end to end at the moment.
54min That goal was scored by Hannon, lovely finish
53min Clare have been so dominant this second half, Honan add’s a point to his goal. Limerick race up field though and score their third goal. Unreal game developing here. Clare appear to be in control but Limerick able to up a level almost at will
49min Limerick with a point from McCarthy but Clare go straight up the park and respond with another goal, this time McGrath with it
48min Clare in front, straight forward point for Conlon
47min the sides are level again Conlon with a point, Limerick sub, impressive Tobin off for Moran
44min tussle in the middle see O’grady lose his hurl, some argy bargy but nothing major, ref restarts with a 50/50
41min Tobin with a point to put Limerick back in front.
41min Wide from Fergal Lynch, Clare are winning the 50/50’s which will worry Donal O’Grady
38min game is level after the ref consulted the linesman before awarding the point. Similiar to the first half Clare have come out blazing. Limerick under pressure
36min What a start to the second half, Clare with a stunning goal from their sub Honan
Teams are out and the second half is about to start
time added onRef whistles for Half time, Clare started stronger but Limerick have finished the first half well.
time added onLimerick finishing half strong, another point thats 1-2 unanswered in a few min. McCarthy again
35min Cooney gives away a free kick metres from the Clare goal, he gets a yellow for his troubles. McCarthy scores.
34min Limerick has wind in sails now, another point for Downes
32min A hopeful ball up forward by O’Grady is messed up by Touhy in the Clare goal, the keeper dropping it into the net after collecting. Not sure what happened him. Limerick lead, undeservedly so. Tobin will claim it but it all Tuohy.
30min Another free kick to Clare, struck well for a 2 points lead.
29min Clare are having the better of the game but Limerick are keeping pace with them, the goal has helped.
27min free kick to Limerick for a foul, McCarthy strikes the ball over
25min 65m to Clare, good defending from Limerick. O’Connell hits it well.
24min Lynch scores again, his 2nd in a matter of minutes. One point game
20min Level again, great point from distance by Kevin Downes
18min Limerick get their first point through McCarthy, Clare response is immediate through Fergal Lynch
17min Limerick have the ball in the net again but this effort is disallowed for a foul
15min Clare take the lead, nice puck from O’Connell. Limerick yet to hit a point. Another wide there for Limerick, Hannon
12min Hickey fouls Lynch for a free kick which is hit over, the sides are level. Clare have been better, Limerick struggling to get a grib
8min Limerick miss with a 65 from hannon
5min Sean Tobin with a lovely goal for Limerick, Clare had started stronger
3min Clare have started the stronger, and O’Connell has just hit a lovely 65
1min We’re off and first free kick is to limerick, ball is delivered into the Clare goal area but Clare clear and race upfield to score through Markham
0min Its a huge match for both sides with promotion to division one at stake. It’s a lovely evening in Ennis, perfect for hurling. We’re minutes away from tip off.
Limerick: N Quaid; D Reale, G O’Mahoney (capt) T Condon; W McNamara, S Hickey, D Breen; D O’Grady, P. Browne; D Hannon, R McCarthy, J Ryan; S Tobin, K Downes, G Mulcahy.
Clare: D Tuohy, P Vaughan, C Cooney, D O’Donnovan, B Bugler, C Dillon, P O’Connor, N O’Connell, J Mc Inerney, F Lynch, J Conlon, J Clancy, C Ryan, D Mc Mahon, C McGrath
Pre league favourites and Munster rivals Limerick and Clare meet this Saturday in Ennis with the Allianz National league division two crown waiting for the winners.
When the two sides met in the league Limerick ran out comprehensive winners by a margin of 2-9 to 0-6 points and the treaty county are on an upward curve under the stewardship of Donal O’Grady, winning all seven of their league games with an average of 2-18 for.
The Cork man has done a remarkable job on rejuvenating a limerick side that was short of confidence and star players after fall outs, relegation and 10 defeats (8 straight in the NHL division one) under former manager Justin McCarthy last year.
Clare meanwhile will have a home crowd behind them and will be hoping that they can avoid a repeat of last year when they went down to Wexford at the final hurdle. The Banner County have not been as convincing as Limerick, winning 5 and losing 2 of their league games but they do have a better scoring record, with their average score a game 3-19.
Despite struggling against Antrim and losing to Laois, Clare were at their mercurial best when they thrashed Down (5-22 to 0-6), Football loving Kerry (6-23 to 1-18) and Carlow (4-23 to 0-8 points), averaging 5 goals a game in those matches. Limerick for their part only scored 13 goals in their total campaign and averaged just over a goal a game against the aforementioned trio.
Defence has been a key factor for both sides with not much separating them, Limerick have conceded on average 1-12 a game to Clare 1-14. Clare manager, Ger O’Loughlin will know a lot of the player’s from his time as manager of Adare and this inside knowledge will be crucial for a Clare win.
Neither county has experienced a win at this level before although Clare will be able to draw on last year’s experience. You have to go back 14 years to 1997 for the last time Limerick tasted success in the National League and while for Clare, the wait is even longer with their last national hurling title coming in 1978.
Clare have some injury worries coming into the game with Conor McGrath (dead leg), Gerry Quinn (ankle) and James McInerney (hamstring) all looking doubtful.
Limerick captain Gavin O’Mahoney returns at full back however they will be unable to call on the services of Andrew O’Shaughnessy who has retired from the inter-county side. The former All Star hasn’t featured for Limerick in a championship since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis late in 2009 although The Kilmallock clubman did line out for Limerick in the early stages of this year’s league, playing in the first game with Clare, Westmeath and Laois.
With Munster Hurling looks particularly strong at the moment; Waterford, Tipperary and Cork finishing 3rd, 4th and 6th respectively in Division 1 and now Clare and Limerick in the top tier of Division 2 this year’s Munster Championship will have a very competitive edge to it, victory on Saturday could give either side the confidence to push on and do something special this year.
Limerick were impressive in the league and should have the edge over Clare despite the home advantage; Limerick win but it will be a lot tighter than their first encounter, O’Grady men to shade by less than 5 points.
Paths to the final
Played 7, Won 5, Lost 2.
Average For: 3-19; Average Against: 1-14
Limerick 2-9 Clare 0-6
Clare 2-14 Antrim 2-13
Clare 1-27 Westmeath 2-17
Clare 5-22 Down 0-6
Clare 6-23 Kerry 1-18
Laois 3-16 Clare 3-13
Clare 4-28 Carlow 0-8
Played 7, Won 7.
Average For: 2-18; Average Against: 1-12
Limerick 2-9 Clare 0-6
Limerick 1-20 Westmeath 0-15
Limerick 1-25 Down2-11
Limerick 1-18 Laois 0-16
Limerick 3-18 Carlow 1-15
Limerick 1-24Kerry 1-9
Limerick 4-15 Antrim 0-15
Limerick (SH v Clare): N Quaid; D Reale, G O’Mahoney (capt) T Condon; W McNamara, S Hickey, D Breen; D O’Grady, P Browne; D Hannon, R McCarthy, J Ryan; S Tobin, K Downes, G Mulcahy.