Ryan decides 'crazy' shoot-out for Limerick after epic deadlock
Clare 0-33 Limerick 4-21 (Limerick win 7-6 in '65' shoot-out after two periods of extra-time)
The hurling league quarter-finals may be much maligned as a concept but try telling that to the Gaelic Grounds crowd who braved the cold yesterday evening or those who watched the drama unfold on TV as the first free-taking competition decided a league match and sent Limerick into a semi-final.
After over 100 minutes, 70-plus minutes of normal time, two 10-minute periods of extra-time followed by a further two five-minute periods, these great Munster rivals were still deadlocked. And after five regulation frees from the 65-metre line, they still couldn’t be separated.
Peter Duggan, Niall Deasy, David Reidy, Ian Galvin and Jamie Shanahan were on the mark for Clare with Limerick’s Aaron Gillane, Colin Ryan, Diarmuid Byrnes, David Reidy and Tom Morrissey matching them shot for shot.
In sudden death the same five players readied themselves. Duggan, who scored an incredible 0-19 during the game, and Gillane, who hit 2-11, converted again before Niall Deasy missed his shot.
It was left to Limerick substitute Colin Ryan, whose sideline conversion at the end of normal time had levelled it, 3-16 to 0-25, to bring proceedings to a close and he duly obliged. It left those at the coalface with mixed feelings afterwards.
“It’s drama but not the drama that you want. I prefer the game, we all do,” said Limerick manager John Kiely. “We all want to see the game finished in a normal way but there was no separating them today. It was a crazy event and it’ll take us a few hours to absorb it now and take it all on board. Just a puck of the ball between them. Did you ever see anything like it?” he asked.
We hadn’t of course. Brought in last September as part of a raft of measures to get business completed without the need for a replay, it was the third time this season that such a scenario had unfolded to decide a game, having previously decided the Walsh Cup final between Wexford and Kilkenny and an O’Byrne Cup semi-final in football between Meath and Longford. In both those cases, however, there was no second period of extra-time because of fading light.
“I can see the logic and the merits in it but the feeling deep down is that we left it behind us,” said Clare joint-manager Gerry O’Connor.
“We really felt there was a top-class performance in us. We got that performance for most of the game. We’re just a little bit disappointed with the way the whole thing finished up. Look, that’s the way the system is, you just embrace it.”
They led by nine points at one stage in the first half, 0-11 to 0-2, and three times they looked like winning it outright.
But each time Limerick pulled it back from the brink of defeat, through Ryan’s sideline (though Peter Duggan dropped a free short after that) at the end of normal time to make it 3-16 to 0-25, Diarmuid Byrnes’ goal from a free to make it 4-18 to 0-30 after 20 minutes of extra-time and an Aaron Gillane free at the end of the final period after Cian Lynch had been fouled.
Clare didn’t score a goal but had one disallowed in the 41st minute when Conor McGrath was adjudged to have over-carried after reading a break right off John Conlon.
The irony was that Gillane looked to have over-carried when he goaled from the boot in the 21st minute, just after Clare had established that 0-11 to 0-2 lead.
Gillane was prominent throughout, adding a second goal and nailing most of his frees, some of which he was fouled for himself, to keep them in touch.
It ebbed and flowed in a pulsating second half after Limerick had retired just three behind, 1-8 to 0-14 at the break. With wind advantage they were in a strong position but Tony Kelly and Peter Duggan were both immense for Clare.
Kelly scored six points from play, thundering through so often to ignite his team while Duggan, who has assumed free-taking duties this season, got better as the half wore on, drifting out to win puck-outs and win frees himself that he converted. Clare’s last seven points in normal time came from him. Ironically, the one that fell short at the very end was inside the range he was finding from earlier shots.
It was the second successive week that Limerick found themselves nine points down but their response both times says much about their growing maturity.
Gillane’s second goal had a touch of class about it, a back-handed flick after Seamus Flanagan’s deft touch from Tom Morrissey’s delivery on 54 minutes putting them in front, 2-13 to 0-18, for the first time.
Clare got to grips with it again and when Duggan drove over a 90-metre free and followed it up with a point from play, they were back in front again.
But Limerick surged again when Morrissey put substitute Pat Ryan away and his crisp shot beat Donal Tuohy on 62 minutes for a 3-15 to 0-21 lead. Ryan’s sideline was their only subsequent score however as Clare wrestled control again.
In extra-time, Clare led at the break, 0-28 to 3-18 and looked to have done enough as Limerick laid siege.
But Byrnes smashed through a thicket of bodies with that late free and they were off again for 10 more minutes. Bodies were visibly tiring at this stage and even Kelly was replaced after an exhaustive effort.
At the death it looked like John Conlon had won it but Lynch made a final surge to present Gillane with that opportunity. Clare will take a lot from it but Limerick, without 10 Na Piarsaigh panellists, will really feel they are on to something now.
“There is great resolve in this group. There is a fantastic team ethic and unity there. When you have that, you can do anything. Look at the last two games, we pulled big deficits back. That is something we haven’t done before with this group in the last two years. It is fantastic to see. It instils great belief in them that they can do anything like that.”
Scorers - Limerick: A Gillane 2-11 (11fs); D Byrnes 1-1 (1-1fs); C Ryan 0-3 (1 sl); P Ryan 1-0; G Hegarty 0-2; P Browne, C Lynch, S Flanagan, T Morrissey all 0-1 each. Clare: P Duggan 0-19 (15fs, 2 65s); T Kelly 0-6; D Reidy, J Conlon 0-2 each; D Fitzgerald, C Galvin, C McGrath, S O'Donnell all 0-1 each.
Limerick - N Quaid 7; S Finn 7, S Hickey 6, R English 6; D Byrnes 7, D Hannon 7, D Morrissey 7; P Browne 6, C Lynch 6; G Hegarty 7, K Hayes 6, T Morrissey 8; A Gillane 8, S Flanagan 6, B Murphy 5. Subs: C Ryan 8 for Browne (49), P Ryan 7 for Murphy (54), D Reidy 6 for Hayes (62), R McCarthy 6 for Hickey (79), B O'Connell for Hegarty (85), O O'Reilly for Flanagan (86).
Clare - D Tuohy 7; P O'Connor 6, C Cleary 7, J Browne 7; S Morey 7, D McInerney 8, D Fitzgerald 7; C Galvin 6, T Kelly 8; D Reidy 7, J Conlon 7, C Malone 6; C McGrath 6, P Duggan 9, S O'Donnell 6. Subs: I Galvin 5 for Galvin (52), C McInerney 6 for McGrath (56), J Shanahan 6 for Morey (61), J McCarthy 6 for Reidy (64), P Collins 5 for Malone (68), M O'Neill 5 for C McInerney (FT), R Taylor for I Galvin (89), M O'Malley for Kelly (95), N Deasy for Collins (98).
Ref - A Kelly (Galway)