Allianz HL D1: Houlihan impresses as Limerick ease to victory:

Allianz Hurling League Division One Group A

Limerick 1-27 Clare 2-18

By Tom Clancy at TUS Gaelic Grounds

All-Ireland Champions Limerick secured their first win of the Allianz National Hurling League, with a richly deserved six-point victory over old rivals Clare.

There was a large crowd, of 15,521 at the TUS Gaelic Grounds. These sides had served up a tremendous Munster final last season and this game had some of the same qualities. Limerick’s score-taking and Clare’s ability to match the physicality was on offer once again.

The Treaty had no over-reliance on one player but it was man-of-the-match Mícheál Houlihan, who top scored with 0-12. The Kilmallock clubman was making his first start at this grade, following in the footsteps of his father, Mike, who hurled in green in the 1990s.

It was a high-tempo, high-quality opening half, particularly from Limerick. They had seven scorers and like last weekend against Cork, they clocked up 0-16 points, and conceded eight times.

Clare, were living off scraps, but there was a fine bit of class to their goal. A long, dropping ball was expertly flicked down by Peter Duggan to Ian Galvin.

The Clonlara clubman, which is just over the border from Limerick, fired beyond Nickie Quaid, despite the Effin native getting a hurley to the powerful shot. This made it 0-10 to 1-5 but the home side stretched their lead heading into the dressing rooms.

Clare had gone close to an earlier goal when McCarthy thundered a shot off the crossbar six minutes.

Further scores from Houlihan, with three frees, Adam English and Gearoid Hegarty. McCarthy had just a long range free in reply, which left the Treaty seven clear at half-time.

Limerick kept the foot on the pedal early in the second half, with eight of the first nine scores. Kyle Hates, Houlihan and youngster Shane O’Brien contributing, as they did in the opening half.

Brian Lohan’s side were too reliant on Aidan McCarthy, he finished with 13 points, including four from play in the closing stages. Indeed, it took sub David Reidy to inject some real scoring threat into the forward line. He netted their second goal, to go with two points, but not before Limerick raised a green flag of their own.

Adam English carried the ball from inside his own half to the Clare 13 meter line, before passing to the free Donnacha Ó Dálaigh who finished with aplomb. This was his second appearance in the National League, following his terrific club form with Monaleen.

Limerick eased over the finishing line, despite Reidy’s late scores, the TUS Gaelic Grounds awash with autograph hunting youngsters after the game.

Scorers for Limerick: Mícheál Houlihan 0-12 (9fs), Peter Casey, Kyle Hayes 0-3 each, Donnacha Ó Dálaigh 1-0, Gearoid Hegarty, Shane O’Brien, Tom Morrissey 0-2 each, Cian Lynch, Adam English, and Ciaran Barry 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clare: Aidan McCarthy 0-13 (9fs), David Reidy 1-2, Ian Galvin 1-0, David Fitzgerald, Sedna Morey, and Diarmuid Ryan 0-1 each.

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Richie English, Fergal O Connor; Ciaran Barry, Dan Morrissey, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O’Donovan, David Reidy; Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch (C), Micheal Houlihan; Shane O’Brien, Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.

Subs: Adam English for Reidy (inj ) Aaron Costello for O’Connor (inj – 29), Donnacha Ó Dálaigh for O’Brien (52), Tom Morrissey for Hegarty (53), Graeme Mulcahy for Lynch (61), Jimmy Quilty for Hayes (65).

Clare: Eibhear Quilligan; Rory Hayes, Conor Cleary, Seadna Morey; Diarmuid Ryan, David McInerney, Aaron Fitzgerald; Cathal Malone, Jack Kirwan; David Fitzgerald, David Conroy, Ian Galvin; Mark Rodgers, Peter Duggan, Aidan McCarthy.

Subs: Robin Mounsey for Rodgers (Blood – 27-29), Rodgers for Donnellan (inj – 29), Aaron Shanagher for Galvin (50), Cian Galvin for A. Fitzgerald (50), David Reidy for Rogers (57), Conor Leen for D. Fitzgerald (59).

Referee: James Owens (Wexford).