By Jerome O’Connell Limerick Leader Sport

AN epic game of hurling saw Limerick advance to the Allianz Hurling League semi final after a sudden death free taking competition was needed to divide Limerick and Clare in the Gaelic Grounds.

This Bank Holiday Monday, the sides were level after two spells of extra time and 100 minutes of hurling so a free-taking competition was used, as per GAA rules.

After five shots each, the sides were still level!

The came sudden death and Pallasgreen’s Colin Ryan was the Limerick hero.

Limerick now advance to a semi final with either Tipperary or Dublin.

Clare had the breeze in the first half and raced ahead to lead 0-6 to 0-2 after 10-minutes.

This was a period when Limerick had six wides and points from Cian Lynch and Tom Morrissey.

But the early Clare radar was in tone early on with Conor McGrath, Tony Kelly, Colm Galvin and David Reidy all finding the mark.

A trio of successive Peter Duggan frees moved Clare 0-9 to 0-2 ahead by the 19th minute.

With the lead out to nine points nad Limerick without a score in 16-minutes, Aaron Gillane popped up with a goal for the home side – kicking to the net to leave it 1-2 to 0-11 after 22-minutes.

It took 24-minutes for Limerick to win a free and then came two – both converted by Gillane.

Paul Browne added a point and the lead was down to four points with just under 10-minutes to half time.

Gearoid Hegarty and Gillane (free) remarkably had it down to a single score game – 1-7 to 0-13 approaching half time.

Duggan’s seventh and Gillane’s four free of the half ensured Clare were 0-14 to 1-8 ahead by half time.

It was a half in which Limerick hit eight wides and Clare five.

Two Aaron Gillane frees settled Limerick early in the second half but at the other end Clare went close to a goal – Quaid was quick off his line to stop Shane O’Donnell and minutes later Tony Kelly had the sliothar in the net but was ruled out by the referee.

Gillane soon had his third free of the half but Tony Kelly had two points from play at the other end to bring his tally to five.

With 20-minutes to play it was Limerick 1-11 Clare 0-17.

Then came sub Colin Ryan and with his first two shots he had two points and the game was down to a single point.

David Reidy hit back but then in the 54th minute Limerick went ahead for the first time.

The crucial score was a second Gillane goal – finishing one handed after Seamus Flanagan delivered across the goalmouth – Limerick 2-13 Clare 0-18.

Duggan hit back with three points – his third from play to move Clare back in front, 0-21 to 2-14.

But up the field went Limerick and found another goal – sub Pat Ryan was isolated in front of goal and made no mistake when a long ball was delivered in.

So it was Limerick 3-15 to 0-21 in front with eight minutes to play.

But Clare and more importantly Peter Duggan weren’t finished and the Clooney Quin man hit the next four points to put Clare on the brink of a win. He hit 0-15 in normal time – two from play.

Then in injury time a Colin Ryan lineball ensured extra time.

In the first period of extra time, Limerick hit six wides in the 10-minutes. Clare led by one point 0-28 to 3-18 with two Gillane frees accounting for the tally for John Kiely’s home side.

Clare looked on course for the win in the second period with Limerick unable to score. That was until injury time when Diarmaid Byrnes blasted a 21 metre free to the net.

Limerick 4-18 Clare 0-30 after extra time.

So another two periods of extra time – this time, 5-minutes each way.

The sides were still level at half time – Limerick 4-20 Clare 0-32. Gillane and Byrnes frees with the Limerick scores.

John Conlon looked to have won it for Clare but an Aaron Gillane pointed free in injury time ensured the sides were level after 100-minutes of action.

So all came down to a free taking competition…. Five from each time on the ‘65.

Colin Ryan, Tom Morrissey, David Reidy, Aaron Gillane and Diarmaid Byrnes the five free takers for Limerick. Peter Duggan, Niall Deasy, David Reidy, Ian Galvin and Jamie Shanahan for Clare.

All 10 scored, leading to sudden death.

Peter Duggan and Aaron Gillane scored first in sudden death.

Then Niall Deasy pointed before Colin Ryan was the Limerick hero.

SCORERS: Limerick: Aaron Gillane 2-11 (0-11 frees), Diarmaid Byrnes 1-1 (1-1 frees), Pat Ryan 1-0, Colin Ryan 0-3 (1lineball), Gearoid Hegarty 0-2, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey, Paul Browne and Seamus Flanagan 0-1 each. Clare: Peter Duggan 0-19 (15frees 2 ‘65), Tony Kelly 0-6, David Reidy and John Conlon 0-2 each, Conor McGrath, David Fitzgerald, Shane O’Donnell and Colm Galvin 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Seamus Hickey, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Paul Browne, Cian Lynch; Kyle Hayes, Gearoid Hegarty, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Barry Murphy. Subs: Colin Ryan for Paul Browne (49mins), Pat Ryan for Barry Murphy (54mins), David Reidy for Kyle Hayes (62mins), Richie McCarthy for Seamus Hickey, inj (78mins), Barry O’Connell for Gearoid Hegarty (85mins), Oisin O’Reilly for Seamus Flanagan (86mins).

CLARE: Donal Tuohy; Patrick O’Connor, Conor Cleary, Jack Browne; Seadna Morey, David McInerney, David Fitzgerald; Colm Galvin, Tony Kelly; Cathal Malone, John Conlon, David Reidy; Conor McGrath, Peter Duggan, Shane O’Donnell. Subs: Ian Galvin for Colm Galvin (51mins), Cathal McInerney for Conor McGrath (56mins), Jamie Shanahan for Seadna Morey (60mins), Jason McCarthy for David Reidy (63mins), Podge Collins for Cathal Malone (68mins), Mikey O’Neill for Cathal McInerney (e-t), Ryan Taylor for Ian Galvin (89mins), Michael O’Malley for Tony Kelly (95mins), Niall Deasy for Podge Collins (98mins).

REFEREE: Alan Kelly (Galway).