Limerick’s search for first Allianz Football League win goes on after defeat to Clare:

By John Redington Limerick Leader Sport

“IT’S A new squad of players and we’ve to learn quickly. But we’re running out of time,” was manager Jimmy Lee’s response after Limerick succumbed 1-16 to 0-14 to Clare under the Saturday evening floodlights in Rathkeale’s Mick Neville Park to suffer their fifth straight Allianz Football League Division Three defeat of the campaign.

Difficulties with the kick-out, a reluctance to shoot quickly when the space opened and failure to contain the support play of a ravenous Clare attack left Limerick way off the mark at the break. However, a full-blooded second-half recovery brought them home side back into contention as the game entered its final minutes after which time the Banner regrouped, recovered and sealed off a fourth victory to keep their quest for promotion on track.

As with most clashes between the Shannonside neighbours, this latest derby had an edge of competitiveness to keep the tidy crowd entertained on a bitterly cold night right up to referee Maggie Farrelly’s final whistle.

The game featured some flashing attacks by Clare in the first half and by Limerick in the second. However, their bad start left Limerick with a mountain to climb once they got their game moving and, while they reached within yards of the summit, the effort finally caught up with them before they could move ahead.

However, disappointing though the result was, in effect it made little difference to Limerick’s fight for Division 3 survival. With trips away to Wicklow and Offaly to come, their cellmates in the Divison 3 basement, in the final two rounds, two victories will be enough to avoid successive relegations.

As wind-assisted Clare probed and Limerick contained in the tight opening exchanges, Daniel Walsh got the visitors off the mark and, after Jamie Baynham replied with a Limerick point, the visitors moved two in front through Dermot Coughlan and Emmet McMahon before Emmet Rigter replied with a point for Jimmy Lee’s men.

Coming up to the quarter-mark, however, the Banner were increasing their presence in the middle third and spraying the ball across the width of the field to find the opening for Cormac Murray, Walsh and Ciarán Downes to point and move them further ahead.

Baynham struck again to break the sequence, however, but it started again with McMahon and Walsh splitting the posts and the Banner stamped their dominance on the contest when Brian McNamara soloed though the middle and took a pass and return before slamming the ball to the net.

Aaron Griffin’s follow-up point was met by a point from Lmerick’s James Naughton before James McGann sent over the first score from a free. This was followed by Griffin intercepting the resulting kick-out, only to see his shot at the empty net bounce over off the crossbar for a lead of ten points before Bob Childs replied to leave the score at 1-11 to 0-5 at half-time.

Limerick restarted on fire with Colm McSweeney and Baynham finding the target with points inside the opening minute and Naughton kept up the momentum with a free.

After Naughton pounced again at the end of an extended movement only to be cancelled out with a point from Clare corner-back Manus Doherty who stormed up the field to fist over.

The home side then picked it up again on the three-quarter mark with a huge point on the run from Barry Coleman which was followed by a Naughton pointed free, before Cillian Fahy pointted off a quick mark. Another long range Coleman strike left just two points between the sides with ten minutes to go.

But that was as close as Limerick got. Bringing on the subs, tightening the shape at the back and slowing the game down with possession football between the two ’45’s, Clare sucked the life out of the Limerick rally and then moved the gap back to five in the space of two minutes as McMahon fly-kicked a point at the end of a move on goal.

This was followed by Griffin sending the kick-out back over the bar for another score and then kicking just over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy. With the result no longer in doubt, Doherty struck again with the fist in added time before sub Daniel Daly replied the same way to end the scoring.

SCORERS: CLARE: Aaron Griffin 0-4, Brian McNamara 1-0, Daniel Walsh, Emmet McMahon 0-3 each, Manus Doherty 0-2, Dermot Coughlan, Cormac Murray, Ciarán Downes, Joe McGann (free) 0-1 each; LIMERICK: James Naughton 0-4 (2 frees), Jamie Baynham 0-3, Barry Coleman 0-2, Emmet Rigter, Bob Childs, Colm McSweeney, Daniel Daly 0-1 each.

CLARE: Stephen Ryan; Manus Doherty, Ronan Lanigan, Michael Garry; Ikem Uwgeru, Alan Sweeney, Daniel Walsh; Gavin Murray, Brian McNamara; Dermot Coughlan, Cormac Murray, Ciarán Donovan; Emmet McMahon, Aaron Griffon, Joe McGann.

LIMERICK: Aaron O’Sullivan; Jim Liston, Seán O’Dea, Paul Maher; Barry Coleman, Iain Corbett, Colm McSweeney;Tommy Childs, Cillian Fahy; James Naughton, Cathal Downes, Emmet Rigter; Jamie Baynham, Bob Childs, Peter Nash. SUBS: Jack English for Aaron O’Dullivan (31 minutes),

REFEREE: Maggie Farrelly (Cavan).