Clare hand Limerick first Munster SHC loss since 2019:

By John Keogh Limerick Leader Sport

LIMERICK have lost their first game in the Munster SHC for the first time since 2019 after Clare beat them at the TUS Gaelic Grounds by 1-24 to 2-20.

In a game that was level four times, Clare raced into a four point lead in added time but Seamus Flanagan’s second goal gave Limerick hope of a late comeback. However, Clare were not to be denied and they held on for a deserved win.

Limerick now have a three-week break before they play their next game in Munster, an away trip to Tipperary in their third fixture of the campaign.

Limerick were nearly in for a goal after just 12 seconds but Flanagan was denied by a stunning save by Clare keeper Eibhear Quilligan.

Tony Kelly then put the Banner in front with the first of the game and that was soon followed up by efforts from David Fitzgerald and Kelly again to put them 0-3 to 0-0.

Tom Morrissey got Limerick on the board after seven minutes before a Diarmaid Byrnes free cut Clare’s gap to just one point. Aidan McCarthy and Aaron Gillane then swapped frees but Clare were soon three to the good with Mark Rodgers and McCarthy hitting the target.

Gillane and Flanagan then brought Limerick to within one, however, Clare continued their fine first half with McCarthy and David McInerney sending over fine scores.

Cian Lynch and McInerney traded scores and then Byrnes put two between the teams again but McInerney’s second restored a three-point lead for the Banner – 0-10 to 0-7.

Kelly then had a goal chance but was brilliantly denied by a fine Quaid stop. McCarthy sent over the resultant ’65. A Gillane free was Limerick’s response and then Flanagan struck for the goal on 29 minutes.

Cathal O’Neill’s run opened up the Clare defence. He was hooked as he shot for goal but Flanagan was on hand to fire into an empty net after the Crecora-Manister man flicked the ball across the square.

Clare protested that the Limerick full forward was in the square before the ball came across but referee Colm Lyons gave the goal after consulting with his umpires.

Gillane and Byrnes frees then saw Limerick into a three-point lead but a Ryan Taylor point and a Duggan score, after another special Quaid save, saw John Kiely’s men 1-10 to 0-12.

Limerick lost Sean Finn to injury at half time and then Cian Lynch early in the second half and Clare took full advantage with Shane O’Donnell and a McCarthy free that was soon followed by a Duggan goal that saw them four points to the good.

Limerick responded superbly with the next four points with O’Neill, Gillane (2) and Byrnes all raising white flags to level the game for the second time.

The sides remained level heading into the final 15 minutes but two Rodgers points saw Clare 1-17 to 1-15 to the good with 54 minutes played.

O’Neill and Byrnes squared the game up for a third time but a second from Fitzgerald saw Clare go in front yet again. The game was on a knife edge heading into the final stages with the teams level with five left.

Clare went four up heading into added time but Flanagan’s second goal gave Limerick hope of a comeback. However, it came too late and Limerick fell to a one-point loss.

Scorers – Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-8 (7 frees), Seamus Flanagan 2-1, Diarmaid Byrnes 0-5 (5 frees), Tom Morrissey 0-4 (1 free), Cian Lynch and Cathal O’Neill 0-1 each.

Scorers – Clare: Aidan McCarthy 0-7 (4 frees, ’65), Tony Kelly 0-4, Peter Duggan 1-1 Mark Rodgers 0-3 (1 s/l), David Fitzgerald, David McInerney, Shane O’Donnell and Aron Shangher 0-2 each, Ryan Taylor 0-1.

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O’Donovan, William O’Donoghue; Cathal O’Neill, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.

Subs: Mike Casey for Finn (h-t, inj), Gearóid Hegarty for Lynch (37 mins, inj), David Reidy for O’Donovan (44 mins), Graeme Mulcahy for P Casey (63 mins), Conor Boylan for O’Neill (70 mins).

Clare: Eibhear Quilligan; Adam Hogan, Conor Cleary, Rory Hayes; Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, David McInerney; David Fitzgerald, Cathal Malone; Shane O’Donnell, Aidan McCarthy, Tony Kelly; Ryan Taylor, Peter Duggan, Mark Rodgers.

Subs: Aron Shanagher for Duggan (59 mins), Shane Meehan for Rodgers (64 mins), Paul Flanagan for Hogan (73 mins).

REFEREE: Colm Lyons (Cork).