By Michael O Connor.
In a warm up for the most crucial non championship game of the year for both Clare and Limerick the two neighbours met at Sixmilebridge on Saturday night before 780 paying customers for what was really a damp squib of a game with both sides really going through the motions and such is their disinterest in the competition that both management teams wanted to toss a coin post match instead of a replay at 7pm Tuesday night in the Gaelic grounds.
Clare lined out with possibly 10 of the championship side as Limerick had considerably less at their disposal as the shannonsiders had more of a experimental feel about it. The opening action seqeuence required Patrick Kelly to be out quickly to body block Mark Carmody’s effort in the first minute. Declan Hannon, who once again underlined his class and was the sole scoring threat in the game for the limerick men opened the scoring after three minutes with Eoin Hayes and Pat DOnnellan who struck a huge effort in the7th minute responding for the home side. Jonathan Clancy sent Clare two clear after 11 minutes before two efforts by Hannon from play left the sides level with 17 minutes played. Aaron Cunningham after frees on Clare forwards in the 20th and 23rd minutes restored the banner sides two point lead. The standard of fare was laborious to watch as only three more scores materialised in the remaining 12 minutes of the first half. Declan Hannon for Limerick with Nicky O Connell and Pat Donnellan stretching the Clare half time advantage to three, (0-7) to (0-4) but really looking toothless in attack with the formation employed.
After 44 minutes of the game Clare looked in a commanding postion on a (0-10) to (0-6) scoreline as Cunningham (2f) and O Connell from play were on target as Hannon and midfielder Conor Allis kept Limerick in touch with Limerick beginning to ring the changes on the sideline with Colm Galvin entering the fray for Eoin Hayes. Limerick eventually began to rally as Hannon hit three of the intervening four scores to level matters on (0-11) to (1-8). The crucial score came from a penalty that was initially created when a short puck out from Pat Kelly to a colleague was deemed to be inside the 21. The throw in led to the concession of a penalty that Hannon dispatched with ease to the back of thenet. Pat Donnellan with his third score from play hit back for the bannermen.
Nicky O Connell responded with a converted 65 only to see Limerick centre back Wayne McNamara saunter upfield and score a great individual effort. O Connell hit a free before the final action of normal time resulted in a Limerick free that was converted by Hannon to set up extra time that was far from what was required by players and supporters alike.
In the first period of the 10minutes a side Clare outscored the Limerick men two points to one as O Connell and Cunningham pointed in the 5th and 8th minutes respectively with who else but Hannon on target for John Allen’s side at the stroke of half time to leave Clare (0-15) to (1-11) ahead. With his fourth point from play Pat Donnellan edged Clare two clear as Wayne McNamara responded only for John Conlon after a number of efforts since his introduction finally got on the scoresheet with a trademark run through the centre. Clare were still two clear with five minutes remaining in the second half of extra time. Nicky O Connell had two chances for scores, one from a free that normally would be scores from the Clonlara sharpshooter but both were off target. Clare rued these as Hannon ended with another two points to leave the side level once more (0-17) to (1-14). With the authorities uncertain about allowing another bout of extra time it occurred anyway and in it Clare spurned three clear point chances understandable due to tiredness as Conor Allis and Cunningham were the only scorers.
Best for Clare were Cian Dillon, Seadna Morey in the first half, Nicky O Connell, Pat Donnellan, John Conlon when introduced, Aaron Cunningham, Enda Barrett and Domhnall O Donovan. Limerick had man of the match Declan Hannon and he was aided well by Wayne McNamara, Conor Allis, Tom Condon, Nicky Quaid, Donal O Grady and Stephen Walsh.
CLARE: Patrick Kelly, Conor Cooney, Cian Dillon, Domhnall O Donovan, Seadna Morey, Enda Barrett, James McInerney, Nicky O Connell (0-6), Pat Donnellan (0-3), Daire Keane, Jonathan Clancy (0-1), Cathal Chaplin, Aaron Cunningham (0-6), Fergal Lynch, Eoin Hayes (0-1). Subs: Colm Galvin for Hayes, John Conlon (0-1) for Keane, Pat Kelly for Chaplin.
LIMERICK: Nicky Quaid, Stephen Walsh, Tom Condon, Shane O Neill, Brian O Sullivan, Wayne McNamara (0-2), Tomas Ryan, Donal O Grady, Conor Allis (0-2), Niall Maher, James Ryan, Declan Hannon (1-11), Mark Carmody, Eamonn Gleeson. Subs: Graham Mulcahy for Quaid, Mike Carr for Ryan, Gavin O Mahony for Maher Thomas O Callaghan for O Sullivan, Brian Geary for E Gleeson, David Moloney for Walsh,
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork).