Slick Clare put Limerick to the sword

Limerick bowed out of the Munster Senior Football Championship after falling to a 1-23 to 0-14 defeat at the Gaelic Grounds.

Billy Lee’s side were behind from the third minute and despite a late rally in the first half, they never had enough to break down a slick Clare outfit.

Clare led 1-7 to 0-3 after 25 minutes but three in a row from Sean McSweeney, Danny Neville and Paul White saw Limerick come back into the contest. Kieran Malone netted the Clare goal on the rebound after his initial shot was well saved by Donal O’Sullivan.

A point each from Malone and David Tubridy put Clare back on track and into a 1-9 to 0-7 advantage at the break.

Limerick rallied at the beginning of the second half with further strikes from Lee and McSweeney to get to within a goal but Clare upped the pace for the remainder of the second half.

Efforts from Eimhin Courtney, Malone and Cathal O’Connor followed Limerick’s promising second half start and Clare continued to dominate from that moment.

Their scores almost came at will with Eoin Cleary in fine form at centre forward. He kicked five points from play but finished second in the scoring to Malone, who helped himself to 1-3.

Limerick had fine performances from the tireless Paul White and Josh Ryan also scored three points when he was sprung from the bench but ultimately had no answer to Clare’s scoring power. Clare now prepare for a Munster semi final date with Kerry, while Limerick’s 2018 fate rests in the qualifiers.

Scorers – Clare: Kieran Malone 1-3, Eoin Cleary 0-5, David Tubridy 0-3 (1f), Eimhin Courtney and Conor Finucane 0-2 each, Keelan Sexton, Pearse Lillis, Jamie Malone, Cathal O’Connor, Gearoid O’Brien, Conail O nAinifein, Gavin Cooney and Martin O’Leary 0-1 each.

Scorers – Limerick: Sean McSweeney 0-5 (5fs), Jamie Lee (1f) and Josh Ryan (2fs) 0-3 each, Danny Neville 0-2 and Paul White 0-1.

Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan; Gareth Noonan, Sean O’Dea, David Connolly; Paul Maher, Cillian Fahy, Gordon Browne; Darragh Treacy; Patrick Begley; Peter Nash; Michael Fitzgibbon; Paul White, Sean McSweeney, Danny Neville, Jamie Lee; Subs: Iain Corbett for Nash (45 mins b card), Josh Ryan for Begley (49 mins), Killian Ryan for Lee (54 mins), Daniel Daly for Browne (60 mins), Davy Lyons for Fitzgibbon (60 mins), Padraig Scanlon for Neville (64 mins).

Clare: Eamonn Tubridy; Gordon Kelly, Cillian Brennan, Eoghan Collins; Cian O’Dea, Aaron Fitzgerald, Pearse Lillis; Gary Brennan, Cathal O’Connor; Kieran Malone, Eoin Cleary, Jamie Malone; Eimhin Courtney, Keelan Sexton, David Tubridy; Subs: Conal O nAinifein for Kelly (42 mins), Gearoid O’Brien for Sexton (48 mins), Gavin Cooney for D Tubridy (64 mins), Conor Finucane for K Malone (65 mins), Martin O’Leary for Courtney (67 mins), Eanna O’Connor for Collins (69 mins).

Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan)