Limerick open 2024 with Munster Hurling League win over Clare:

By John Keogh Limerick Leader Sport

LIMERICK began their 2024 season with a 2-21 to 1-19 win over Clare in the Co-op Superstores Munster Hurling League in Clarecastle this evening.

In their first competitive game since last year’s All-Ireland final win over Kilkenny, an experimental Limerick side saw off their near rivals in a game that had a pre-season feel about it.

Limerick play Cork in Mick Neville Park next week with a win guaranteeing them a place in the final of the competition against Waterford on January 21.

Cathal O’Neill gave Limerick a three-point lead at the break with a superbly taken goal, while Granagh-Ballingarry’s Luke Flynn bagged a second one on his debut. Peter Duggan got Clare’s goal late on.

The sides were level twice in the opening stages with Donnacha Ó Dálaigh hitting the target twice. A long range effort from Mark Quinlan and a fine Adam English effort then saw Limerick 0-4 to 0-2 ahead after nine minutes.

Shane O’Brien then had Limerick three to the good after an excellent Ethan Hurley pass with both sides showing rustiness in the first half.

Paddy O’Donovan and Barry Murphy kept Limerick ticking over with scores from play with Clare responding thanks to Mark Rodgers (2) and David Reidy.

Clare then managed to get back on level terms through Keith Smyth and David Conroy, leaving the score at 0-9 each at the half hour mark.
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Diarmuid Cahill then had Clare in front but that was soon cancelled out by a second Colin Coughlan point of the half before O’Neill scored a superb goal after running in on goal after good work from Adam English.

Limerick continued to control the game in the second half with English and two O’Donovan placed balls keeping the scoreboard ticking over.

O’Neill and O’Brien also hit the target in a game that saw both sides empty the bench in the second half. Limerick gave debuts to Emmet McEvoy and Ethan Hurley from the start with Joe Fitzgerald, David Fitzgerald, Flynn, Mike Keane, Liam Lynch and Darragh Langan also getting their first taste of senior inter-county action.

O’Donovan and O’Brien continued to keep Limerick in front and Flynn made an immediate impact with a close range finish after Eamonn Foudy made a stunning save from an O’Brien thunderbolt on 67 minutes that saw Kiely’s men 2-21 to 0-17 ahead.

Duggan flicked home Clare’s reply from a long range Foudy free late on but it was Limerick that got the victory by a six-point margin at full time.

SCORERS – CLARE: Mark Rodgers (0-3 frees) and David Conroy (0-1 free) 0-4 each, Peter Duggan 1-0, David Reidy (0-1 ’65) and Keith Smyth (0-1 free) 0-3 each, Shane Meehan 0-2, Diarmuid Cahill, Paddy Donnellan and Keelan Hartigan 0-1 each.

SCORERS – LIMERICK: Paddy O’Donovan 0-7 (0-5 frees), Cathal O’Neill 1-1, Shane O’Brien 0-4, Luke Flynn 1-0, Donnacha Ó Dálaigh, Colin Coughlan and Adam English 0-2 each, Mark Quinlan, Barry Murphy and Micheál Houlihan 0-1 each.

CLARE: Eamonn Foudy (Inagh-Kilnamona); John Conneally (Clooney-Quin), Conor Leen (Corofin), Paul Flanagan (Ballyea); Cian Galvin (Clarecastle), Conn Smyth (Feakle), Darragh Lohan (Wolfe Tones Na Sionna); Shane Meehan (The Banner); Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe); Keith Smyth (Killanena), David Conroy (St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield), Colm O’Meara (Clonlara); David Reidy (Éire Óg Inis), Mark Rodgers (Scariff), Diarmuid Cahill (Corofin).

SUBS: Ross Hayes (Crusheen) for Leen (16 mins), Gearóid Sheedy (Ogonnelloe) for O’Meara (h-t), Stephen Conway (Feakle) for Cahill (h-t), Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin) for Rodgers (h-t), Keelan Hartigan (Scariff) for Meehan (48 mins), Paddy Donnellan for C Smyth (49 mins), Jack Kirwan (Parteen-Meelick) for Reidy (55 mins), David Tuohy (Clarecastle) for Flanagan (57 mins), Dylan McMahon (Clonlara) for Lohan (63 mins).

LIMERICK: Jamie Power (Monaleen); Emmet McEvoy (Na Piarsaigh), Dan Morrissey (Ahane, Capt), Fergal O’Connor (Effin); Mark Quinlan (Garryspillane), Ethan Hurley (Newcastle West), Ciarán Barry (Ahane); Barry Murphy (Doon), Colin Coughlan (Ballybrown); Micheál Houlihan (Kilmallock), Paddy O’Donovan (Effin), Cathal O’Neill (Crecora-Manister); Donnacha Ó Dálaigh (Monaleen), Shane O’Brien (Kilmallock), Adam English (Doon).

SUBS: David Fitzgerald (Kildimo-Pallaskenry) for Quinlan (h-t), Joe Fitzgerald (Monaleen) for Murphy (h-t), Aaron Costello (Kilmallock) for O’Connor (h-t), Luke Flynn (Granagh-Ballingarry) for English (49 mins), Liam Lynch (Mungret St Paul’s) for O’Neill (55 mins), Oisin O’Reilly (Kilmallock) for Ó Dálaigh (57 mins), Mike Keane (Adare) for McEvoy (61 mins), Darragh Langan (Monaleen) for Barry (61 mins).

REFEREE: Alan Tierney (Tipperary).