Clare 3-13 University of Limerick 1-13
By Michael O Connor.
First of all bravo to the near 40 players, various mentors and the 484 hardy souls in the attendance for braving the elements in this bitterly cold and wet Sunday afternoon in Sixmilebridge. In regard to the 70 minutes action as both sides playing the same style and Clare in particular holding possession against the breeze at times this outing at times resembled a football game.
Both sides did well in the conditions that prevailed and this competitive game was decided by a late Seadna Morey goal as UL had manufactured a grandstand last quarter as Clare appeared to tire somewhat. Kieran “Kiwi” Morris who finished the game as top scorer with 1-6 opened the scoring for the students after three minutes from a free as Cathal O Connell and Colin Ryan responded with a free and an effort from play with eight minutes played. UL centre forward Adrian Ryan, David Butler and Kieran Morris struck three in a row by the 16th minute as it was apparent that the Brian Lohan coached UL side were intent on winning this game irrespective of other competitions that would taking their focus in the coming month.
Eire-og’s David O Halloran making his competitive bow , Cathal O Connell and Enda Barrett restored the home side’s lead by the minimum after 20 minutes with a point apiece as Clare hit a number of wides following a succession of passes that sometimes yielded dividends and othertime did not. O Halloran added a second for Clare’s final score of the first half after 24 minutes.
Worringly, for Clare UL dominated the last ten minutes of the first half and were unlucky not to score one goal but added a hat trick of points from Shane Golden, Kieran Morris and Paraic Walsh, brother of 9 time all star Tommy to leave UL marginally deserving half time leaders on a (0-8) to (0-6) scoreline.
Kilkenny star Michael Fennelly was making his debut for UL as Clare were without a number of players were college tied allowing the chance for others to impress. It took six minutes of the second half before any of the sides troubled the scoreboard and when scores materialised it was a brace from the O Connell brothers who levelled matters after 43 minutes. Fergal Lynch and Nicky O Connell from play and a placed ball respectively sent Clare into a two point lead as UL buckled a little as Clare upped the pressure with a goal from Nicky O Connell after good build up play by Fergal Lynch and Tony Kelly. Clare now led (1-10) to (0-8) clear as supporters were expecting to see a major scoring surge to seal out the win. Both sides introduced replacements as Fergal Lynch with his second score left Clare six points clear as UL were playing second fiddle at midfield and against the Clare half backs.
Amazingly UL took control of the game after Kieran Morris capitalised on Paul Kelly hooking a Patrick Kelly clearance to score the goal that breathed new life into the students challenge. Morris and Geoff Brennan added minors to leave the minimum between the teams. Tony Kelly and Adrian Ryan exchanged points as a real upset appeared to be on the cards as now it was the home side that were on the back foot and badly needed an injection of scores. The introduction by Clare of Seadna Morey who is a student in UL saw the Clare star blast the insurance goal to put his side four clear. Kieran Morris responded with a point to leave a goal between the sides but at this stage Clare were better equipped to finish out and when a high ball sent in was gathered by towering full forward Alan O Neill and he blasted to the net to end the game as a contest.
Nicky O Connell and Kieran Morris rounded off the scoring as Clare sealed a semi final berth next weekend against Jimmy Barry Murphy’s Cork side and UL who were disappointed for a small period after the final whistle will now divert all their attentions to the Fitzgibbon cup round 1 game against St Pats this coming Thursday.
Best for Clare were Brendan Bugler, James McInerney, Pat Donnellan, Nicky O Connell, Fergal Lynch, David O Halloran, Cathal O Connell and Nicky O Connell. UL had solid displays from Kieran Morris, Niall McGrath, Paddy Stapleton, Shane Golden, Michael Fennelly, Adrian Ryan in patches, Eamonn Murphy and Pa Ryan.
CLARE: Patrick Kelly, David McInerney, James McInerney, Conor Cooney, Brendan Bugler, Patrick Donnellan, Patrick Kelly, Nicky O Connell (1-2), Colin Ryan (0-1), Fergal Lynch (0-2), Tony Kelly (0-1), Enda Barrett (0-1), David O Halloran (0-2), Alan O Neill (1-0), Cathal O Connell (0-4). Subs: Seadna Morey (1-0) for Lynch, Patrick O Connor for P Kelly, Jonathan Clancy for O Halloran, Shane O Donnell for O Connell,
UL: Niall McGrath, Paul Flanagan, Dan Morrissey, Pa Ryan, Thomas Ryan, Conor Ryan, Paddy Stapleton, Michael Fennelly, Shane Golden (0-1), Paraic Walsh (0-1), Adrian Ryan (0-2), Cathal Malone (0-1), Kieran Morris (1-6), David Butler (0-1), Eamonn Murphy. Subs: Brian Stapleton for Butler, Geoff Brennan for Fennelly, Eanna Murray for Murphy,
Referee: John Sexton (Cork)