Thursday 22 March 2018

McInerney clinches Cork semi-final for Banner

Clare 0-15 Limerick 0-13

Clare’s Jamie Malone shields the ball from Seanie Buckley
Clare’s Jamie Malone shields the ball from Seanie Buckley
Limerick's Ian Ryan scores a point despite the best efforts of Rory Donnelly
A dejected Peter Nash, Limerick after the game's end

John Fallon

Clare needed the cool head of Cathal McInerney to finally see them past Limerick at Cusack Park as the Banner men threatened to throw away a five-point half-time advantage.

After a terrible first-half from the Treaty men, John Brudair's side roared back after the interval and looked likely to level matters when goalkeeper Brian Scanlan put the minimum between the sides with two minutes left.

But McInerney, who had earlier slotted a free following his introduction 12 minutes from time, kicked the insurance point for Clare to set up a Munster semi-final with Cork in three weeks' time

Clare dominated the opening half but had to be content with a 0-9 to 0-4 interval lead after some wayward shooting with the breeze behind them.

Scanlan's exploits were really the only opening half highlights for a Limerick team whose only score from play in the first period came from a point from corner-back Robert Browne after two minutes.

That cancelled out Gary Brennan's opening point after just 15 seconds, with the big Clondegad midfielder the dominant figure in the first half as Clare lorded it at midfield with Cathal O'Connor also in top form.

Clare's midfield dominance ensured a bountiful supply into their attack, but their use of it was poor, often shooting from difficult positions with men better placed.

Podge Collins was a constant thorn in the Limerick defence but they were disciplined and did not conceded scoreable frees, although Collins punished them for this with a jinking run which yielded an excellent point after 22 minutes.

Scanlan's first point, which came after Dean Ryan was booked for an off the ball challenge on Peter Nash, prompted a good response from Clare with Eoin Cleary getting his second point and Brennan soloing through for another trademark score.

The Clare captain repeated the feat close to the interval but Scanlan gave Limerick some hope with his second score of the game.

Clare started the second period strongly and Jamie Malone brought their tally into double figures less than a minute after the restart, which put six points between the sides.

But Limerick had their bright moments too and after Peter Nash cut the Clare lead in the 37th minute, Stephen Cahill added another for Limerick a minute later.

Seán Collins hit back for the Banner men with a good score for the home side, but it wasn't long before Limerick hit back again. Ryan kicked his second free after 43 minutes and moments after Clare's Jamie Malone was shown a black card Nash kicked his second point of the half to leave it 0-11 to 0-8.

Substitute Rory Donnelly settled Clare with a good point on the run, but crucially, Limerick landed three points in three minutes as Ryan and Cian Sheehan began to find their range, which put just a point between the sides.

Eleven minutes from time Donnelly landed his second point, a huge score from 40 metres to put Clare two point up again, but Ryan - showing some of his old magic - put the minimum between the sides again with nine minutes left.

And McInerney stepped forward in the closing stages for Clare to send them into the Munster semi-final with his late score sending Cusack Park into raptures.

Scorers - Clare: G Brennan 0-4; R Donnelly, C McInerney (1f), E Cleary 0-2 each; S Brennan, P Collins, C O'Connor (45), J Malone, Sean Collins 0-1 each. Limerick: I Ryan 0-4 (2f); B Scanlan 0-3 (1 45, 2f); P Nash 0-2; R Browne, I Corbett, S Cahill, C Sheehan 0-1 each.

Clare: J Hayes; C Russell, K Harnett, M McMahon; S Hickey, G Kelly, D Ryan; G Brennan, C O'Connor; Sean Collins, J Malone, S Brennan; E Cleary, P Collins, P Burke. Subs: Stephen Collins for Hickey (half-time), R Donnelly for S Brennan (40), D O'Halloran for Malone (47 BC), C McInerney for Cleary (58), C Dunning for Stephen Collins (66).

Limerick: B Scanlan; J McCarthy, R Browns, S O'Dea; I Corbett, C Fahy, S Cahill; T Lee, G Hegarty; J Riordan, P Ranahan, S Buckley; P Nash, D Treacy, I Ryan. Subs: D Neville for Lee (35+2), C Sheehan for Riordan (half-time), K Moore for Ranahan (55), G Noonan for Browne (61).

Referee: D O'Mahoney (Tipperary)

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