Clare have right to feel aggrieved – but they had their chances

The Banner had lead for a large part of the game, going into the half time break with a three point lead, but Kiely’s men turned it on in the second period.

Limerick won their fifth Munster title in a row on Sunday, defeating Clare by a point in the TUS Gaelic Grounds, but it was not without it’s controversy. The Banner had lead for a large part of the game, going into the half time break with a three point lead, but Kiely’s men turned it on in the second period, asserting their dominance and stretching to a five point advantage at one stage.

Brian Lohan’s side managed to battle back, a Tony Kelly point in added time meant his team trailed by a single point with seconds to go.

Cue the drama.

A premature pitch invasion had occurred just moments earlier, with a number of Limerick supporters flooding the field having thought the final whistle had blown. To the dismay of the crowd, this caused a short delay, and by the time the situation had been sorted, it was the final roll of the dice for Clare. Kelly found himself in a great shooting position, but appeared to be barged unfairly by Peter Casey. Referee Liam Gordon held tough and only blew his whistle to signal full time, sending the Treaty faithful into raptures.

If you look at the incident in isolation, then yes, Clare have a right to be aggrieved, it looked like a free. Kelly was leading the Banner charge, and as he looked to force extra time he was met with a shoulder to the face from Limerick’s Casey. More often than not you would see a free given for such an incident, but it was not to be for the Banner.

In a situation like this, when the stakes are so high, you have to take into account what had happened across the entire 75+ minutes. Gordon had not been giving frees for similar altercations throughout the game, maybe he should have, but he wasn’t, and it would have been as controversial if he did award the free to the Banner who had chances elsewhere to level late on. Clare will feel they lost the game with their twelve wides and six shots dropped short.

All in all, there was a real chance to win the game had they shown more efficiency.

11 June 2023; Cathal Malone of Clare gets to the ball ahead of William O’Donoghue of Limerick during the Munster GAA Hurling Championship Final match between Clare and Limerick at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Aside from any injustice Clare may be feeling, they had plenty of chances to level the game or increase their tally prior to the incident, and in all honesty, can only have themselves to blame. On a day when they were looking to end their 25 year wait for the Mick Mackey cup, too many of their big players didn’t show up, and one isolated moment at the death can’t be blamed for the loss, no matter how harsh it may have seemed.

Limerick saw a number of decisions go against them too, with Gearoid Hegarty somewhat softly receiving a yellow card following a scuffle, and Aaron Gillane being pulled around the pitch for majority of the game ate the other end of the field. Mike Casey also received a contentious yellow card in the first half for an incident that didn’t even look worthy of being a free.

The Banner faded in the second half, and that’s what lost them the game. Going into the break with a three point lead, they just didn’t come out the same side, and Gillane’s goal really flipped the script, with Limerick taking control of the game. Lohan will be disappointed the likes of Peter Duggan and Aidan McCarthy couldn’t influence the game from play, with Inagh man McCarthy only managing one point without frees, while Duggan went scoreless for the day.

Limerick have booked their spot in the All-Ireland semi-final, coming with a four week break, while Clare will have to pick themselves up to go again for the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

With the two sides on opposite sides of the draw, they could well meet each other in another final later this year.

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