Saturday 24 March 2018

McGrath has Banner flying high

Clare 2-24 Limerick 1-13

DAVY Fitzgerald's Clare scored a stunning 14-point victory against Limerick in last night's Allianz National Hurling League Division 1B clash at the Gaelic Grounds.

The visitors recovered from a sluggish start to blitz the Shannonsiders in front of 5,390 spectators.

And it was sizzling young forward Conor McGrath who caught the eye with a sensational individual haul of 1-10.

Leading by 1-12 to 1-8 at half-time, Clare stepped on the gas after half-time to run out convincing winners and lay down a real marker early in the season.

McGrath was sensational close to goal while former U21 star John Conlon was superb in the second half as Clare upped the ante to blow away John Allen's Limerick in front of approximately 6000 spectators. Clare's early progress under 1995 and 1997 All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Fitzgerald has been impressive, with a place in Sunday's Waterford Crystal Cup final against Tipperary secured.

But this was a huge step-up from Clare's previous outings and the manner of defeat will concern new Limerick boss Allen, who guided Cork to All-Ireland glory in 2005.

Cratloe star McGrath's goal in the 56th minute handed Clare a 2-19 to 1-10 lead and the remainder of the game was played in challenge match mode.

With Limerick forward Declan Hannon ruled out through injury, the scoring responsibility fell on the shoulders of his former Ardscoil Rís schoolmate Shane Dowling. And Dowling hit five points in the first half, before Clare took over completely.

Scorers -- Clare: C McGrath 1-10 (0-8f), C Ryan 1-1, J Conlon 0-4, N O'Connell 0-3, C McInerney & S Collins 0-2 each, P Donnellan & F Lynch 0-1. Scorers for Limerick: S Dowling 0-7 (4f), J N Moran 1-1, C Allis 0-2 (1 sl), D O'Grady, J Ryan & K Downes 0-1 each.

Clare: P Kelly; D O'Donovan, C Dillon, C Cooney; J McInerney, P O'Connor, B Bugler; P Donnellan, N O'Connell; J Conlon, S Collins, F Lynch; C McInerney, C Ryan, C McGrath. Subs: L Markham for Lynch (65), E Barrett for Bugler (65), C Galvin for Ryan (66).

Limerick: N Quaid; P Browne, R McCarthy, T Condon; C Allis, W McNamara, G O'Mahony; D O'Grady, J Ryan; S Dowling, D Breen, S O'Brien; G Mulcahy, N Moran, M Ryan. Subs: P O'Brien for J Ryan (inj, 9), S Walsh for O'Mahony (h.t.), K Downes for S O'Brien (h.t.), T Quaid for M Ryan (46), J O'Brien for O'Grady (62).

Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary)

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