Joyce-Power caps Treaty fightback
Limerick 1-10 Clare 0-10
By Fintan O’Toole
Thursday, March 11, 2010
FOR the majority of last night’s Cadbury’s Munster U21FC quarter-final in Cooraclare, Limerick full-forward Cormac Joyce-Power’s role entailed aiding his colleagues out the field. But, when stationed close to goal late on, his impact was decisive in settling this game. As his side trailed 0-8 to 0-9 in the final stages, the Limerick senior player made his telling contribution. In the 52nd minute he touched down a pass from Bobby O’Brien into the path of Seamus O’Carroll, collected the return and neatly tucked a shot into the bottom corner of the net. Suddenly Limerick were in the ascendancy for the first time since the fourth minute and Clare, who had hitherto controlled proceedings, were in the uncomfortable position of being on the backfoot.
O’Carroll tacked on another point for Limerick, and although Clare full-forward Gary Leahy maintained the high standards of accuracy that had characterised his freetaking all night, with a point in the 58th minute, it was Joyce-Power who had the final say. He seized possession in open space around the middle in the 52nd minute before striding forward to hit a marvellous long-range effort between the posts to seal Limerick’s advance to a last four meeting with Tipperary next Thursday night in Semple Stadium. That strong late finish capped a wonderful recovery from Limerick as for much of the night they looked listless against a forceful and energetic Clare side. A frozen Gaelic Grounds pitch meant Limerick had to cough up home advantage as the tie was switched to the West Clare venue early yesterday and Clare looked adapted better to familiar surroundings in the first-half.
Limerick struck two early blows with points from Eoghan O’Connor and Tony McMahon inside the first four minutes, but thereafter in the opening half Clare’s rearguard was a watertight unit. Clare had levelled the match by the 7th minute thanks to a pair of fine frees by Gary Leahy and they were also thankful to goalkeeper Peter O’Dwyer who made a smart block to deny O’Carroll a 9th minute goal. The lively nature of the opening stages bore portents for an engaging encounter, yet the play became bogged down around the middle for the remainder of the first-half. Shooting was wayward on both sides with Limerick having reason to bemoan the fact that the foothold O’Brien and Joyce-Power gave them around the middle never materialised into a stream of scores.
Instead Clare grew into the game with Sean Collins, who has been starring at variety of levels in hurling of late, starting to acquit himself brilliantly with the big ball and his Cratloe clubmate Liam Markham also shining. Up front Clare had a pair of forwards with an eye for a score in Leahy and Padraig McMahon, and they each notched a brace apiece between the 22nd and 31st minutes to leave Clare 0-6 to 0-2 ahead at the break.
Clare got an early fillip in the second-half when Shane Brennan curled a beautiful shot between the posts, but Limerick mounted a strong response as they eradicated the sloppy handling of their first-half play. O’Connor emerged as a prolific scoretaker up front and the promptings of centre-back Eoin Joy also underpinned their revival. O’Connor (2) and O’Carroll whittled down Clare’s advantage to 0-7 to 0-5 by the 39th minute. Yet Clare seemed to have weather that storm when Brennan and substitute Michéal Malone chipped in with a point apiece to provide them with a four point cushion, 0-9 to 0-5, entering the final quarter. Their vocal home support sensed Clare were on the cusp of a satisfying success, which was all the more admirable considering the absence of Kilmurry-Ibrickane stars Darren Hickey and Mark McCarthy.
At that juncture it was extremely difficult to see Limerick turning things around but they managed to do that in remarkable fashion. O’Connor was on target from open play and placed ball, and when Joy charged through in the 51st minute to blast over, they were only a point adrift. Limerick never let that steam of momentum drop and Joyce-Power bossed the match in a significant fashion late on to propel the Treaty side forward.
Scorers for Limerick: E O’Connor 0-5 (0-3f), C Joyce-Power 1-1, S O’Carroll 0-2, T McMahon, E Joy 0-1 each.
Clare: G Leahy 0-5 (0-3f), S Brennan, P McMahon (0-1f) 0-2 each, M Malone 0-1.
LIMERICK: B Scanlon; D Quaid, M McCormack, E Fitzgibbon; J Riordan, E Joy, B Treacy; B O’Brien, T McMahon; D Ward, J Kelly, P Sheehan; E O’Connor, C Joyce-Power, S O’Carroll.
Subs: E McEniry for Sheehan (39), J Martin for Ward (62).
CLARE: P O’Dwyer; M Moloney, D Ryan, S Cormican; M O’Loughlin, L Markham, S Tierney; C Ryan, M Hallinan; S Collins, S Brennan, P McMahon; E Lyons, G Leahy, C Cormican.
Subs: S Crotty for Lyons (43), M Malone for C Cormican (43), I White for Hallinan (50), C Dickson for Tierney (58).
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry)