Five things we’ve learned from Semple Stadium as Limerick edge titanic battle with Clare
Here's what we've gleaned from Limerick's nailbiting 1-19 to 2-15 win over Clare at Semple Stadium.
1) The old cliche of a game of two halves still has some currency
At the interval, Limerick were protecting a one-point lead, after a half of dull and tentative hurling. Neither team had much to offer in terms of creative play; instead most of the scoring came from the free-taking of Shane Dowling and Colin Ryan. With both teams lying deep it cried out for some inspiration - it duly came on the restart. The second half sizzled, Limerick surging into a six-point lead and then almost reeled back in by a Clare comeback sprinkled with two outstanding goals from substitute Aaron Cunningham.
2) Man in black
It is never a good sign when the referee is the centre of attention to the extent that Colm Lyons was in Thurles. Lyons incurred the wrath of both sets of supporters with a series of controversial decisions. Not one of his better days even if the conditions, a hard-hitting, and scrappy derby, posed a tall challenge for any official.
3) Limerick’s resurrection
Allowances are made for indifferent spring form on the grounds that championship hurling is an entirely different arena. But Limerick, who failed to win promotion from the second tier, and went down badly in the league quarter final to Dublin, had noticeably struggled to rediscover the pitch of 2014. This spirited win will put the events of the spring to the back of their minds.
4) Clare’s poor form continues
Clare were desperate for a win to get themselves back on track after suffering a poor championship last year and then relegation from the national league in a play-off with Kilkenny. The crisis over player discipline seemed to galvanise the players but there were question marks with the loss of important players in all sectors of the field. Would the relatively untried next generation be able to take up the cudgels in the white heat of a Munster Championship game against rivals Limerick? They came close but that bad run remains intact.
5) New hero
While Shane O’Donnell emerged as a brilliant newcomer two years ago, and showed much of that talent in this match, it was a newcomer in the Limerick side who will have been the talk of the evening’s celebrations around the Treaty County. Cian Lynch was outstanding, scoring three points from play, and winning another free which Dowling pointed. He also forced a good save from Patrick Kelly. For a first start this was a serious statement but he didn’t steal it from the wind, being the nephew of that star of many Clare-Limerick tussles of the past, Ciaran Carey.