Clare 2-11 Limerick 0-05
Apart from a three minute spell which saw Limerick hold a two point lead, it was the Banner who completely dominated this contest. Clare were more economical with their use of possession which led to the creation of scores while their opponents were constantly intercepted when they were in control of the ball.
Miltown’s Sean Malone was first to get on the scoresheet with a fine curving shot from his right boot edging its way between the posts on the fifth minute. Limerick levelled matters, six minutes later from a Mark Connolly free. The Treaty County took the lead with an Ed Sheehy point on the seventeenth minute and added to this with a white flag from captain Mikey Morrissey two minutes later. Sean Malone was on hand to get the all-important goal which swung the tie in Clare’s favour on the twentieth minute with a blistering strike to the top right hand corner of Aaron Murphy’s net following good work from Nigel Murray and Cillian Brennan. Six unanswered Clare points courtesy of Malone, Colm Pyne, Colin Hehir, Cillian Brennan and two from Keelan Sexton saw the Banner head in at the break 1-07 to 0-03 ahead.
Captain Keelan Sexton registered Clare’s first score of the second half, four minutes in. The Clare Senior football panellist added another free from the 45 metre line shortly after to extend his side’s lead to nine points. Limerick netminder Aaron Murphy was called upon to deny Cormac Murphy and the Fr Casey’s man was rewarded for putting his body on the line as his team would go up the field and get their first point since the break via Adam Storan on the forty second minute. Kieran Kelleher’s Clare side replied in remarkable fashion as a quick Cillian Brennan free was offloaded to Nigel Murray who tore through the Limerick defence and in the ensuing goalmouth scramble, Miltown’s Cormac Murray kicked the ball to the back of the net. Sexton and Storan swapped frees on the twenty fifth minute to leave a gap of eleven points between the sides. The Treaty County were reduced to fourteen men with the dismissal of Luke O’Connell for a second bookable offence after an off the ball altercation. Fittingly the man that got Clare out of the blocks would be the last scorer in the contest as Sean Malone hit over a fine point to wrap up the contest.
In their victory over Waterford last week, Jerry O’Sullivan’s Limerick showed great fight in overturning an eight point deficit at half-time. That fight and grit was non-existent in Cusack Park, as the Treaty County never showed the required drive to get going. Their play was too obvious at times as Clare constantly got interceptions and turnovers at their expense. When they look back on their 2015 Minor Campaign, Limerick will be pleased to have won a game at the grade for the first time in five years but this encounter is one they will be keen to forget. Adam Storan, Sean Murphy and Diarmuid Kelly did well for the Shannonsiders.
For Clare the objective was to win and that has been achieved. Key to their victory was their attitude, not once did they involve themselves with the referee or go looking for trouble. They also lost three important players to injury namely Páraic McNamara, Sean O’Donoghue and Pearse Lillis during the game but the Banner refused to let this affect their mentality with these losses and it is a credit to them as most teams would have crumbled. Defensively Clare were far superior and only allowed Limerick hit eighteen shots on goal over the hour. Next up is a May 13th semi-final clash with Tipperary in the last four and the Banner cannot afford to waste chances on goal when they travel to Semple Stadium. Sean Malone was very dangerous up front for Kieran Kelleher’s side while Keelan Sexton showed tremendous leadership with the trio of Darragh Bohannon, Colm Pyne and Nigel Murray also impressing.
Clare: Killian Roche (Cooraclare), Conor O’Halloran (Éire Óg), Colm Pyne (Killimer) (0-01), Kieran Killeen (Kilmurry/Ibrickane), Liam Devitt (Ennistymon), Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare), Colin Hehir (St Josephs Miltown Malbay) (0-01), Sean O’Donoghue (Cooraclare), Darragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels), Alan Sweeney (St Breckans), Nigel Murray (O’Currys), Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry/Ibrickane) (0-05 3f), Páraic McNamara (Kilmaley), Cillian Brennan (Clondegad) (0-01), Sean Malone (1-03). Subs: Cormac Murray (St Josephs Miltown Malbay) (1-00) for McNamara (16:06) (Inj), Conor Lynch (Clondegad) for O’Donoghue (33:30) (Inj), Niall McCarthy (Lissycasey) for Lillis (36:06) (Inj), Maurice Nugent (St Josephs Doora/Barefield) for N Murray (44:27), Jack Morrissey (Cooraclare) for Sweeney (49:47), Conor Downes (Naomh Eoin) for Hehir (59:02).
Limerick: Aaron Murphy (Fr Caseys), Fionn Murphy (Killteely-Dromkeen), Luke O’Connell (Mungret), David Hanley (Ballysteen), Sean Murphy (Newcastlewest), Sean Ivess (Newcastlewest), John Wallace (Glin), Adam Kerins (St Senans), Michael Whelan (Hospital-Herbartstown), Mikey Morrissey (Rathkeale) (0-01 1f), Colm McSweeney (Gerald Griffins), Ed Sheehy (Granagh/Ballingarry) (0-01), Diarmuid Kelly (Newcastlewest), Mark Connolly (Adare) (0-01 1f), James Ryan (Athea). Subs: Paul Maher (Adare) for Hanley (HT), Adam Storan (Mungret) for Ryan (36:57), Cameron Stephenson (St Patricks) for Whelan (44:07), Richard Hayes (St Senans) for McSweeney (52:02), Dillon Corrigan (Kildimo Pallaskenry) for Connolly (54:00), Andrew White (Rathkeale) for Morrissey (54:01).
Referee: Seamus Mulvihill (Kerry).