Gillane shows class as impressive Limerick ease into provincial final
Limerick 1-28 Clare 1-15
Aaron Gillane pointed the way for Limerick who eased past Clare and into the Munster U-21 final with victory at the Gaelic Grounds.
In front of 5,577 spectators, Gillane fired 14 points for the home side - eight of them from play - while an early goal from Peter Casey also set the tone for Limerick.
Billy Connors hit a first-half goal for Clare, and the Banner men pulled to within five points after the restart when they emerged re-energised from the changing rooms, but with four of their starters heavy-legged from their Munster final exertions at the weekend, an in-form Limerick proved unstoppable.
Clare corner-back Conor O'Halloran was sent off in the last minute when he earned his second yellow card for hauling down Barry Nash, but by then it was a procession for Limerick, who now go on to meet the winner of tonight's semi-final between Waterford and Cork in the decider on July 26.
After this Limerick are still untested after big wins over Tipperary and Clare, but had Casey, Gillane and Tom Morrissey not missed gilt-edged chances for goals, it would have been far worse.
The bright start that Limerick managed seemed to knock the stuffing out of Clare. Thomas Grimes started the scoring after 40 seconds, before Gillane hit two and Morrissey also found his range. Colin Corbett and David Fitzgerald replied for Clare, but they were only barely keeping in touch.
Limerick can thank referee Cathal McAllister's bright advantage for Casey's goal - O'Halloran was later booked for pulling down the Limerick man who got up to find the net - but Clare soon replied when Connors found the bottom corner after a great break from Fitzgerald.
But after that goal, Gillane went on to hit four points without reply in four minutes to settle Limerick's nerves and they deserved their 1-14 to 1-5 lead at the break.
Clare looked to be in a determined mood after the restart as Ian Galvin helped Clare to five points without reply as the Banner men closed to 1-15 to 1-10 by the 40th minute.
But Colin Ryan hit three points in the second period, and with time running out, they shut down the Clare challenge with a run of scores. Gillane, Ryan, Ronan and Cian Lynch, and substitute Paudie Ahern all got in on the act as Limerick eased into the final in a fortnight's time.
Scorers - Limerick: A Gillane 0-14 (5f, 1'65), C Ryan 0-3, P Casey 1-0; T Morrissey, B Nash, R Hanley 0-2; T Grimes, B Murphy, R Lynch(1f), C Lynch, P Ahern 0-1. Clare: I Galvin 0-5 (4f), B Connors 1-0; C Corbett, D Fitzgerald 0-2; M O'Malley, A Shanagher, M O'Shea, R Hayes, B Cahill, P O'Loughlin 0-1.
Limerick - E McNamara; S Finn, D Fanning, D Joy; R Lynch, K Hayes, T Grimes; C Ryan, R Hanley; A Gillane, B Murphy, C Lynch; P Casey, T Morrissey, B Nash. Subs: C Boylan for Murphy (40), A La Touche Cosgrave for Grimes (42), C McSweeney for Finn (51), P Ahern for Morrissey (53), O O'Reilly for Casey (56).
Clare - K Nugent; C O'Halloran, D Walsh, C Cooney; C Smyth, B O'Gorman, R Hayes; J McCarthy, M O'Malley; D Fitzgerald, C Corbett, B Cahilll; I Galvin, A Shanagher, B Connors. Subs: M Moloney for Smyth (18), M O'Shea for Corbett (40), P O'Loughlin for Hayes (42), C Noonan for Cahill (56), J Cunningham for B O'Gorman (59).
Ref - C McAllister (Cork)
Subscribe to The Throw-In, Independent.ie's weekly Championship podcast, for the best in GAA discussion and analysis every Monday, with some of the biggest names in football and hurling from Joe Brolly, Tomás Ó'Sé, Brendan Cummins and John Mullane.