Aaron Gillane strikes late as Limerick snatch draw with Clare in Cusack Park
Clare 2-11 Limerick 1-14
A late Aaron Gillane point salvaged a controversial draw for All-Ireland champions Limerick in their Division 1A clash with Clare at Cusack Park.
The hosts were a point ahead in stoppage time when David Fitzgerald hit the deck after a clash with Cian Lynch. The referee waved play on, ignoring the protests of the Clare players and bench and Gilane squared the match with the next play.
The match was the only Division 1A game to be played with Cork v Tipperary and Wexford v Kilkenny both falling victim to the weather, along with Waterford v Galway in Division 1B.
The snowy weather wasn't enough to prevent a lively start with an eighth-minute goal from Gearoid Hegarty cancelling out points from Clare's Tony Kelly and Shane Golden to put Limerick ahead for the first time in the game.
A couple of Gillane frees opened up Limerick's lead but the conditions were doing little to help himself or Clare's Peter Duggan with both missing as often as they succeeded. Nevertheless, Duggan's third point squared the game on 26 minutes at 0-6 to 1-3 before points from Colin Ryan, Paddy O'Loughlin, Peter Casey and Gillane left Limerick 1-7 to 0-6 ahead at the break.
A Shane Golden goal within two minutes of the second half starting was followed by a Niall Deasy equalising point for Clare but that was just a signal for the Treatymen to up the ante again.
A brace of Gillane frees put Limerick two clear before the same player was pulled back in the box to give him the opportunity to extend the lead to five.
But Donal Tuhoy in the Clare goal has earned a reputation as a penalty specialist in the league this year and he duly enhanced it further with a superb save from Gillane's attempt.
Peter Casey managed to salvage something from the penalty by pointing the rebound and then added another before Clare launched a comeback.
With Peter Duggan chipping away at Limerick's lead, Clare finally hit the front with seven minutes left. And it was Duggan again who buried the ball past Nickie Quaid after a neat build-up involving Golden, Cathal Malone and Podge Collins.
Gillane and Duggan then swapped frees before another Gillane point reduced the deficit to the minimum. And the home crowd's whistles for full-time were in vain as Gillane took advantage of that controversial Fitzgerald call to ensure honours finished even.
Clare: D Tuohy; R Hayes, D McInerney, J Browne; P O'Connor, C Cleary, D Fitzgerald; S Golden (1-1), C Galvin; P Duggan (1-6, 0-6f), T Kelly (0-1), D Ryan (0-2); I Galvin, N Deasy, P Collins.
Subs: G Cooney (0-1) for I Galvin (35+1), O O'Brien for McInerney (HT), C Malone for O'Connor (52), A McCarthy for Deasy (57), A Shanagher for Ryan (66).
Limerick: N Quaid; T Condon, S Finn, R English; P O'Loughlin (0-1), D Hannon, D Morrissey; C Lynch, C Ryan (0-1 ‘65'); G Hegarty (1-0), K Hayes (0-1), T Morrissey; A Gillane (0-8f), S Flanagan, P Casey (0-3).
Subs: W O'Meara for Finn (7), D O'Donovan for Ryan (50), G Mulcahy for Flanagan (59), D Dempsey for Hegarty (63),S Dowling for T Morrissey (66).
Referee: P O'Dwyer (Carlow).