McDermott toasts Tubs' late late show
Clare 1-13 Limerick 0-15
MUNSTER SFC SEMI-FINAL
IT'S NOT known exactly what time the milking cows of Clare were awoken yesterday, but you can presume it was a lot later than usual after the celebrations that accompanied their footballers' heroics on Saturday night.
Players and supporters lingered long on the Gaelic Grounds pitch afterwards, savouring this extraordinary defeat of Limerick.
It may not have been quite as seismic as their famous 1992 Munster final victory over Kerry which prompted Marty Morrissey's famous 'milking' quote, but, 20 years later, this was still a massive landmark for Munster's 40/1 long shots.
It was their first championship victory over Limerick in 28 years and the remarkable manner in which it happened -- going 10 points clear after half-time, but then needing one of David Tubridy's trademark audacious points to steal it at the death -- only added to their joy.
The legacy of '92 was eloquently recalled by captain Alan Clohessy as he stood engulfed by well-wishers on the eve of his 30th birthday.
"Francis McInerney ('92 captain) just passed me by there and wished me the best of luck. That's when it comes home to you, they were the last people to do it (in 2000) and now we're going to a Munster final," he said.
"Lads like that broke the mould for Clare, they'll always be the heroes, but we had our own motivation."
They provided their own heroes too, in players like Gordan Kelly, Shane McGrath (a Dub recruited under the parentage rule), Gary Brennan, Rory Donnelly and, particularly, Tubridy.
The man they call 'Tubs' scored the first of his three second-half points virtually from the corner-flag to vitally break an 18-minute scoreless spell after Limerick had cut the deficit to four.
His second regained the lead with just three minutes of normal time remaining and, when he took aim a third time, there were still 90 seconds of injury-time left.
"I had to get it away quick, yer man got a hand to it, but it just crept over the bar," Tubridy said. "The earlier one? I did it two weeks ago in training -- the boys were laughing at me because I was crossing a ball and it went over!"
Manager Michael McDermott stood blinking in astonishment after stepping off this nerve-shredding rollercoaster. "That's why David stood out in the inter-provincials this year, he's a class act," he said. "But you wouldn't want to have high blood pressure in a game like that!
"The pressure of that last 10 minutes was phenomenal, every sort of feeling is going through your body," he exclaimed.
Yet manager and players alike insisted that they never thought they were going to lose this -- which kept them still grappling when their opponents appeared to have wrested victory from the jaws of defeat.
Quite how the 2009 and 2010 Munster finalists got themselves into such a predicament prompted accusations of complacency, but Limerick boss Maurice Horan insisted that was not the case. They kicked seven bad wides by the break and he admitted taking a flame-thrower, not a hairdryer, to them then.
Clare had studied the Waterford game and felt Limerick were vulnerable if you ran at them. With Gary Brennan opening brilliantly in midfield, they carved Limerick open repeatedly, racing 0-5 to 0-0 clear in the opening 10 minutes.
The home side then steadied themselves with three points without reply only to let Clare centre-back Kelly waltz through in the 23rd minute to blast home a rocket of a goal, which seemed to take a helpful deflection.
Trailing by nine (0-3 to 1-9) at half-time and having missed two open goals, Horan didn't spare them.
"We were furious," he admitted. "We asked them a simple question, why they weren't putting in tackles."
He didn't use John Galvin, he explained, because the recently-returned cruciate victim was only ready to provide a psychological boost if leading, but not fit enough for such hand-to-hand combat.
But subs James O'Meara and Eoghan O'Connor played a huge role in Limerick's radical second-half improvement, wresting back midfield and getting the ball repeatedly into Ian Ryan, whose 0-10 tally (0-8 in the second half) was beyond heroic.
When he put Limerick ahead with four minutes left he looked to have saved their day.
Yet somehow Clare dug in, won some vital kick-outs in those frenetic late minutes and Tubridy's grandstand finish secured the Banner's return to only their fourth Munster final in the last 20 years.
SCORERS -- Clare: D Tubridy 0-5 (1f, 1 '45'), G Kelly 1-0, R Donnelly 0-3, S McGrath 0-2, G Brennan, G Quinlan, A Clohessy, 0-1 each; Limerick: I Ryan 0-10 (5f), G Collins 0-2, S Kelly, S O'Carroll, E O'Connor 0-1 each.
CLARE -- Joe Hayes 7; K Hartnett 6, S McNeilis 6, L Healy 5; M McMahon 6, G Kelly 9, John Hayes 7; G Brennan 8, G Quinlan 7; S McGrath 8, E Coughlan 7, A Clohessy (Capt) 7; M O'Shea 6, D Tubridy 9, R O'Donnell 8. Subs: S Brennan 7 for Quinlan (57), N Browne 7 for Coughlan (62), D Russell 6 for McGrath (65), B Hartnett 6 for McNeilis (65).
LIMERICK -- B Scanlon 6; L O'Dwyer 6, J Riordan 5, P Browne 5; S Lavin 5, J McCarthy 5, P Ranahan 5; T Lee 6, P Kinnerk 5; S Buckley 6, S Kelly 7, I Corbett 6; G Collins (Capt) 6, S O'Carroll 7, I Ryan 10. Subs: J O'Meara for Kinnerk (27), E O'Connor for Kelly (53), J Cooke for Corbett (55), J Donovan for O'Carroll (61), G O'Connell for Buckley (71).
REF -- D Fahy (Longford).