The Shannonsiders lead at the interval was just one-point in a half where they struggled for large periods but got the only goal for a slender advantage.
Limerick’s four year unbeaten streak in the championship came to an end as Clare earned a 1-24 to 2-20 win in the TUS Gaelic Grounds this evening.
Four unanswered Clare scores in the final five minutes were enough to see off the Treaty with Seamus Flanagan’s last minute goal proving in vain.
The Shannonsiders lead at the interval was just one-point in a half where they struggled for large periods but got the only goal from Flanagan for a 1-10 to 0-12 advantage. It was a half where Nickie Quaid also made a pair of crucial saves, one from Kelly and one from Peter Duggan.
Limerick had a chance for an early goal but Eibhear Quilligan thwarted Seamus Flanagan after a brilliant Aaron Gillane fetch. Tony Kelly made them pay immediately after with a pair sandwiched either side of David Fitzgerald score.
Limerick had to wait until the seventh minute for a first score, Tom Morrissey firing over with Diarmuid Byrnes getting off the mark shortly after.
Aidan McCarthy and Aaron Gillane exchanged frees to get on the scoresheet before Rodgers and the former made it double scores at 0-6 to 0-3.
Gillane and Seamus Flanagan replied with a quick fire brace but McCarthy and David McInerney were equal to it. Cian Lynch got in in the scoring but again the response came from McInerney.
A Byrnes free was cancelled out by McCarthy but the next score came from Gillane that had it 0-8 to 0-10 after 24.
Five minutes later, Limerick took the lead completely against the run of play as Seamus Flanagan tapped into an empty net for a second game in a row. Cathal O’Neill collected the slitter 45′ out and baring down on goal, he was expertly hooked but the ball fell to a gracious Flanagan who made no mistake.
Gillane hit his fourth free in the 33rd minute to make it 1-9 to 0-10. A Byrnes free put a goal between the sides but Clare finished the half with a pair to leave the minimum in it.
Limerick were slow off the blocks in the second half with Sean Finn and Cian Lynch both replaced through injuries. And Mike Casey and Gearoid Hegarty could do little to stop Clare hitting 1-2 without reply to retake the lead, Peter Duggan finding the net after Limerick failed to clear their lines.
But the response was emphatic from last year’s champions, Gillane hitting a brace to go with points from Morrissey and Byrnes that had the teams level with 25 to play. Tony Kelly hit back to break the Clare duck and break the Limerick dominance.
Morrissey had it level with 20 to play. Mark Rodgers had a quick brace, one of those a sideline but O’Neill stemmed the tide this time. Byrnes briefly levelled but Clare then had points from McCarthy and David Fitzgerald.
Tom Morrissey, taking over the free taking duties, halved the deficit but McCarthy then responded with his seventh. Morrissey followed that before Gillane brought the sides were level again with five to play.
Clare responded in style with three on the bounce to move clear in injury time and while Flanagan hit the net for a second time, it wasn’t enough as Limerick’s four year unbeaten run came to an end.
Scorers for Limerick: Seamus Flanagan (2-1), Aaron Gillane (0-7, 6frees), Diarmaid Byrnes (0-5 frees), Tom Morrissey (0-4, 1free), Cathal O’Neill (0-2), Cian Lynch (0-1)
Scorers for Clare: Aidan McCarthy (0-7, 4 frees, ’65), Tony Kelly (0-4), Peter Duggan (1-1), Mark Rodgers (0-3), David McInerney, David Fitzgerald, Aron Shanagher, Shane O’Donnell (0-2), Ryan Taylor (0-1)
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O’Donovan, William O’Donoghue; Cathal O’Neill, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.
Subs Used: Mike Casey for Finn (HT), Gearoid Hegarty for Lynch (38), David Reidy for O’Donovan (44), Conor Boylan for O’Neill (63)
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