Sunday 23 September 2018

'Someone f***ed up' - Billy Lee fumes at Limerick officials as Clare cruise

Clare 1-23 Limerick 0-14

Limerick football manager Billy Lee vented his fury at the county board over an administration oversight and no food being provided to his players midweek. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Limerick football manager Billy Lee vented his fury at the county board over an administration oversight and no food being provided to his players midweek. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Limerick were outclassed by Clare at the Gaelic Grounds and in defeat Limerick manager Billy Lee pulled the pin from a few grenades and aimed them towards his county's officials. Civil war could be on the cards.

A frustrated Lee hit out at the Limerick County Board, whom he says 'can't do their job right' following a series of malfunctions in the build-up to the game.

He says players were not fed after training this week and the wrong team-sheet was lodged to Croke Park by the county board. "During the week when we came to training here, we brought lads down from Dublin, Cork, Galway and there was no food provided to the players. Someone f***ed up," he explained.

Threatened

Even ten minutes before throw-in, Lee had threatened to pull his team out of the game.

"I left Limerick here on Wednesday and after training from here to Newcastle West my whole night was on the phone to officials to get their act in order," said Lee. "As an organisation in Limerick we need to pull ourselves together fairly fast and it's up to the leaders in positions to lead.

Davy Lyons of Limerick in action against Conor Finucane of Clare. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Davy Lyons of Limerick in action against Conor Finucane of Clare. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

"There was a lad on our bench (Jim Liston) today that we couldn't use because the wrong list went to Croke Park. At quarter to four this evening I had to have a conference call with my management team to sort this out and even as late as ten minutes before throw-in to the game there was a game of Russian roulette being played because I wasn't prepared to come out on the field with the team - it was gone to that extreme.

"They changed it some bit, but at half-time they came again and said if we won we would have to forfeit the game. We have full-time administrators and they can't do their job right."

He added: "We need every help we can get. Three and a half hours before a Championship game I got a call saying Jim Liston couldn't play. This is shocking stuff."

Considering all this, it is a credit to Lee and his team that they managed to keep within 12 points of a superior Clare side. It was only in the last 20 minutes that Clare finally showed the real gulf between the sides, although Limerick can thank the brilliance of goalkeeper Donal O'Sullivan, who produced three one-on-one saves, to keep his team in it.

Cillian Brennan of Clare in action against Josh Ryan of Limerick. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cillian Brennan of Clare in action against Josh Ryan of Limerick. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

After a slow start saw Limerick trail 1-6 to 0-1 after 18 minutes - debutant Kieran Malone bagged the goal after O'Sullivan first denied him - Lee's side did well to pull within five points at half-time, while Seán McSweeney and Jamie Lee cut the gap to three points after 40 minutes.

But in the next 14 minutes Clare outscored their hosts eight points to one, as the bench made a huge impact with six points from five different players.

Eoin Cleary was the fulcrum of the attack and kicked five points from play, but either side of him Kieran Malone had a dream championship debut with a 1-3 haul, while the direct running of Jamie Malone was a feature, particularly in the first quarter.

Facing Kerry in the Munster semi-final might seem a bit of a booby prize, but Clare continue to improve under the guidance of Colm Collins.

"No questions but some of the mistakes we made today, if we repeat them, will be severely punished in Killarney," Collins said. "There was a lot of aspects of our play which I was happy with. But there were things in both halves that we wouldn't have been happy with.

"Very pleased for the team and subs - these guys work really hard and sometimes they don't get a chance.

"You can't argue with a 12-point win and it is the first time in four years that we have won convincingly against Limerick. We'd be happy enough with that.

"Nobody is under any illusions about the size of the effort it will take to beat Kerry in Killarney. We're looking forward to it. Fitzgerald Stadium in the summertime, that's where you want to be."

It will be very interesting to see how Clare do match up with Kerry. At midfield, Gary Brennan and Cathal O'Connor were dominant, and O'Connor's solo score in the third quarter came at a key juncture.

Up front, they showed outstanding patience as they worked their way into scoring positions, while at the back - other than a tricky ten minutes before the break - they can be satisfied with their work.

The litmus test will be in Killarney.

Scorers - Clare: K Malone 1-3; E Cleary 0-5; D Tubridy 0-3 (1f); E Courtney, C Finucane 0-2 each; C Ó hAinifein, P Lillis, C O'Connor, K Sexton, G O'Brien, G Cooney, M O'Leary, J Malone 0-1 each. Limerick: S McSweeney 0-5 (5f), J Lee 0-3 (1f), J Ryan 0-3 (2f), D Neville 0-2, P White 0-1.

Clare - E Tubridy 7; G Kelly 7, C Brennan 7, E Collins 8; C O'Dea 8, A Fitzgerald 9, P Lillis 8; G Brennan 7, C O'Connor 9; K Malone 9, E Cleary 8, J Malone 8; E Courtney 7, K Sexton 7, D Tubridy 8. Subs: C Ó hAinifein 7 for Kelly (42), G O'Brien 7 for Sexton (58), E O'Connor 6 for Collins (69), G Cooney 7 for D Tubridy (64), C Finucane 7 for K Malone (66), M O'Leary 7 for E Courtney (67).

Limerick - D O'Sullivan 9; D Connolly 6, S O'Dea 6, P Maher 6; P White 8, C Fahy 7, G Browne 7; D Treacy 6, M Fitzgibbon 6; D Neville 8, S McSweeney 8, G Noonan 6; J Lee 8, P Begley 8, P Nash 6. Subs: I Corbett 6 for Nash (44 BC), J Ryan 8 for Begley (49), K Ryan 6 for Lee (54), D Lyons 5 for Fitzgibbon (61), D Daly 5 for Browne (61), P Scanlon 5 for Neville (64).

Ref - N Mooney (Cavan)

Irish Independent

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