Classy Clare hold off Limerick fightback in Munster Minor Hurling semi-final

Clare 2-21
Limerick 2-15 
By Tom Clancy in Cusack Park, Ennis. 
Limerick exited the Electric Ireland Munster Minor Hurling Championship, with a six point reverse in the semi-final against neighbours Clare in Cusack Park, Ennis.

The Banner were deserving winners, with a brace of goals from Marc O’Brien proving pivotal. Limerick had green flags from Patrick Kearney and Dara Ferland in a second half which saw them chase a double digit deficit all the way back to three points.

Before a crowd of 1,804, Clare’s success sets up a meeting with Cork in the Munster decider.

Evan Loftus’ side started this game brightly, scoring five of the first six points. Included in those efforts were Darren Collopy and Darragh Gleeson frees, while Collopy was also on target with two from play.

But Clare inched their way back into the clash, with Michael Collins leading an attack that had plenty threats to the Limerick rear-guard. The went in front, for the first time, 0-8 to 0-7, on 23 minutes.

Limerick managed just two points in the second quarter of this clash, with Tadhg Boddy and Robert O’Farrell both taking fine long range points. They’d earlier come close to a goal only for Hugh Flanagan to see his effort fly over the crossbar.
Limerick trailed 1-12 to 0-8 at half-time, as Clare scored 1-4 without reply. The goal arrived when Marc O’Brien blocked a clearance from the Limerick goalkeeper, Joe Fitzgerald, who’d initially saved the Banner shot. This followed points from James Hegarty (free), Michael Power and Collins.

A second goal, from O’Brien, just seconds after the restart put Limerick 10-behind. They would raise their game in the final quarter, with a superb goal from sub Patrick Kearney bringing some hope. The Adare-forward rifling to the top corner from 20-meters after turning his man.

There was a second goal, this from Dara Ferland, who lobbed the Clare custodian. This brought the game to three points with three minutes to play, but sub Fred Hegarty and Eoin Begley landed late scores for Brian O’Connell’s Clare.

It brings an end to Limerick’s season, having defeated Waterford, Clare and Tipperary before suffering back-to-back defeats to Cork and Clare.
Scorers for Limerick: Darragh Collopy 0-4 (0-2 frees); Patrick Kearney 1-1; Darragh Gleeson 0-3 (0-2 frees, 0-1 ‘65); Dara Ferland 1-0; Hugh Flanagan, Tadhg Boddy, Robert O’Farrell 0-2 each; Seán Duff 0-1.

Scorers for Clare: Marc O’Brien 2-3; Michael Collins 0-6; Fred Hegarty 0-3; James Hegarty (0-2 frees), Michael Power 0-2 each; Ronan Kilroy, Jack Mescall, Sean Arthur, Emmet Mulcahy and Eoin Begley 0-1 each.
Limerick: Joe Fitzgerald (Kildimo/Pallaskenry); John O’Keeffe (Na Piarsaigh), Conor Bickford (Ahane), Sean Morrissey (Dromin/Athlaca)(Captain); Jack Cosgrove (Ahane), Sean Casey (Bruff), Darragh Gleeson (Adare); Diarmuid Lyons (Newcastle West), Matthew Fitzgerald (Monaleen); Robert O Farrell (Kildimo/Pallaskenry), Dara Ferland (Monaleen) (Vice Captain); Tádgh Boddy (Bruff); Hugh Flanagan (Garryspillane), Michael Leo (Knockainey), Darren Collopy (Murroe/Boher). 

Subs: Patrick Kearney (Adare) for Leo (half-time), Seán Duff (Mungret/St. Paul’s) for Collopy (49) Declan Heavey (Garryspillane) for O’Keeffe (54).

Clare: Mark Sheedy; Ronan Keane, Eoin Gunning, Eoin Carey; Matthew O’Halloran, James Hegarty, Jamie Moylan; Jack Mescall, Emmet Mulcahy; Ronan Kilroy, Michael Collins, Sean Arthur; Oige Fanning, Marc O’Brien, Michael Power.
Subs: Evan Price for Mulcahy (43), Fred Hegarty for Arthur (46), Harry Doherty for Fanning (49), Eoin Begley for Kilroy (53).
Referee: Nicky Barry (Waterford) 

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