Limerick 1-21 Clare 0-24
The appetite is whet for a cracking Munster final between Limerick and Clare in three weeks' time after a rip-roaring round-robin contest ended in a draw at Cusack Park this afternoon.
Clare hit the All-Ireland champions with everything they had – including a sensational display from Tony Kelly with the Ballyea wizard firing 0-16 – and it took a Diarmaid Byrnes free deep into injury time to earn a draw for John Kiely's side.
The sides were level 14 times and it looked like the balance was tipping in Clare's favour when Gearóid Hegarty was given his marching orders in the 64th minute after picking up his second yellow card (he will still be available for the provincial final).
Ryan Taylor's point in the 69th minute gave the Banner the advantage by the minimum, but Byrnes showed nerves of steel to nail his ninth point of the game and set up a tantalising rematch between the Shannonside rivals on June 5.
Aaron Gillane was a late absentee while Darragh O'Donovan and Graeme Mulcahy dropped to the bench with Robbie Hanley, Conor Boylan and David Reidy in from the start as Kiely shuffled his Limerick deck.
It was nip and tuck throughout a keenly-contested opening half where Kelly and Byrnes were in stunning form with Kelly 12 from 12 in front of the posts in the first period while Byrnes was similarly effective with 0-6 from six shots.
Kyle Hayes' 15-minute goal looked like it might push the Treaty clear as they led 1-5 to 0-6 after 15 minutes, but Clare kept fighting back with Kelly delivering a tour de force as the sides went in level at the break, 1-12 to 0-15.
The sides traded blows throughout a gripping second half with David McInerney's 51st minute point sending Brian Lohan's side two points clear, 1-15 to 0-20, but points from Hegarty, Byrnes and David Reidy edged the Treaty back ahead.
Hegarty's dismissal tipped the balance back in favour of the Banner favour down the home stretch and they looked like taking the two points in front of 18,129, only for Byrnes to come up trumps once again and set up a fascinating rematch.
Limerick: D Byrnes 0-9 (7f, 0-1 '65), K Hayes 1-0, D Reidy 0-4f, G Hegarty 0-4, S Flanagan 0-1, T Morrissey 0-1, D O'Donovan 0-1
Clare: T Kelly 0-16 (10f, 0-1 '65), D Fitzgerald 0-2, R Taylor 0-2, D Ryan 0-2, D McInerney 0-1, S Meehan 0-1
LIMERICK - N Quaid; S Finn, M Casey, B Nash; d Byrnes, D Morrissey; W O'Donoghue, R Hanley; G Hegarty, D Reidy, T Morrissey; C Boylan, K Hayes, S Flanagan.
Subs: R English for Casey (blood 44-46), G Mulcahy for Boylan (53), D O'Donovan for Hanley (56), O O'Reilly for Flanagan (57).
CLARE - E Quilligan; R Hayes, C Cleary, P Flanagan; D Ryan, J Conlon, D McInerney; J McCarthy, C Malone; D Fitzgerald, S O'Donnell, R Taylor; T Kelly, P Duggan, R Mounsey.
Subs: A Fitzgerlad for Ryan (blood 16-17), S Meehan for McCarthy (half-time), D Reidy for Mounsey (46), Fitzgerald for Flanagan (blood 61-65), A Shanagher for Duggan (73).
REF - C Lyons (Cork)