Limerick U20 footballers lose out to Clare in Munster U20 championship:

By John Redington Limerick Leader Sport

“CLARE were the better side, they used the ball better while we gave away too many turnovers,” was manager Shane Kelly’s assessment of Limerick’s disappointing 1-9 to 0-6 defeat at home to Clare in the final phase one round of the Munster Under-20 football championship in Ballyagran on Saturday.

The result means the end of their involvement in the business end of the competition as the Banner overtook Limerick in the table to join Tipperary in phase two of the provincial championship.

Limerick do still have the consolation of a B final to look forward to against Waterford on April 10

The result hardly flattered the winners who missed a series of goal chances off the first move and then immediately conceded a point on the break that left Limerick in the lead for the first 18 minutes as both sides tried to cope with the difficult wind blowing across the pitch.

However, when Clare finally found their range, they rattled off five unanswered points that left them dictating the play as their opponents struggled to find rhythm and intensity to their game. Any chance of a recovery disappeared with the game’s only goal 11 minutes from the end of regulation time.

Given that the Limerick line-up was built around a minor side that defeated both Clare and Tipperary and then put it up to Cork in the 2021 Munster final, the failure to progress comes as a disappointment. Limerick ended the round robin phase with three points from a win over Waterford and a draw with Tipp in the first two outings.

There were some some serious individual contributions but, the side as a whole never hit top gear.

Limerick had an early escape as Clare powered forward from the throw-in and Craig MacInness was forced to bring off last-ditch saves from Luke Pyne and Séan McMahon before the ball was eventually cleared for Emmett Rigter to collect and point on the run.

It proved to be the only score of the first quarter as the Banner racked up six wides and Limerick saw deliveries into their inside men break down before the shot could be launched.

It took a long speculative pot from Odhran Cunningham to break the drought, but the blustery wind continued to dominate even though Clare were beginning to get a stranglehold on possession in the middle third.

Coming up to the break, their fortunes finally changed when Fennell followed up on his point on the run to collect off a quick free and split the the posts and, when McMahon volleyed on a breaking ball out near the sideline to point off the upright.

Daire Culligan then gained possession off the resulting kickout for his shot on the run to leave the visitors with a half-time lead of 0-5 to 0-1.

Bobby Smith’s point within a minute of the restart raised hopes of a Limerick revival but they failed to kick-on and, after Culligan had a point from a free disallowed for moving inside the position, the visitors moved further in front through Éanna Rouine and Fennell’s pointed free.

Coming up to the three-quarter mark, the hosts injected their first burst of intensity which led to Ronan Quirke’s free and sub Paudie Murphy pointing, after the resulting kickout was turned over.

However, Clare responded immediately when a fast, sustained move forward found Tom Curran out on the left wing to send over a spectacular point. It was game, set and match when Cunningham powered up the centre and his inch-perfect pass found the inrushing Rouine who rounded MacInness before tapping the ball to the net.

Given more space to move forward as the Banner opted for containment while they emptied the bench, Limerick struck back off through Darragh Murray’s point kicked from way out on the wing . Although Clare replied immediately with Fennell’s high looping strike, Limerick ended the scoring with another Quirke free.

SCORERS: CLARE: Conor Fennell 0-4 (1 free), Éanna Rouine 1-1, Odhran Cunningham, Seán McMahon, Daire Culligan, Tom Curran 0-1 each; LIMERICK: Ronan Quirke 0-2 (2 frees), Emmett Rigter, Bobby Smith, Paudie Murphy, Darragh Murray 0-1 each.

CLARE: Cian Corry (Killimer); Aaron Kelly (Wolfe Tones), Seán McAllister (Clondegad), Conor Kearney (Kilmurry-Ilbrickane); Joshua Moloney (Kilmurry-Ilbrickane), Odhran Cunningham (Killimer), Luke Pyne (Éire Óg); Joshua Vaughan (Ennistymon), Éanna Rouine (Ennistymon); Tom Curran (Saint Joseph’s Doora-Barefield), Pádraig O’Dwyer (Saint Breckan’s), Darren Keane (Lissycasey); Conor Fennell (Kilrush Shamrocks), Daire Culligan (Lissycasey), Seán McMahon (Banner). SUBS: Evan Cahill (Kilmurry-Ibrickane) for Daire Culligan (51 minutes), Michael Kelly (Lissycasey) for Pádraig O’Dwyer (53 minutes), Cathal Talty (Kilmurry-Ibrickane) for Tom Curran (58 minutes), Seán Conneally (Ennistymon) for Seán McAllister (60 minutes), Killian Gavin (Clondegad) for Seán McMahon (61 minutes),

LIMERICK: Craig McInness (Cappagh); Craig O’Connell (Ahane), Jason Hassett (Mungret-Saint Paul’s), Paddy Downey (Oola); John Whelan (Newcatlewest), Aaron Neville (Newcastlewest), Michael Kilbridge (Father Caseys); Emmett Rigter (Newcastlewest), Darragh Murray (Monaleen); Senan O’Brien (Saint Senan’s), Conal Ó Duinn (Monaleen), Bobby Smith (Ballybrown); Diarmuid Hynes (Mungret-Saint Paul’s), Ronan Quirke (Father Caseys), Shane Cross (Saint Patrick’s). SUBS: Josh McCarthy (Saint Patrick’s) for Senan O’Brien (37 minutes), Paudie Murphy (Ballysteen) for Bobby Smith (37 minutes), Jamie Behan (Ballybrown) for Paddy Downey (42 minutes), Dylan O’Connor for Craig O’Connell (52 minutes), Diarmuid Ryan (Feenagh-Kilmeedy) for Diarmuid Hynes (53 minutes.

REFEREE: James Regan (Cork).