Late Cathal O’Neill 65 sees Limerick minors edge Clare in thriller

A late Cathal O’Neill 65 saw Limerick minors edged Clare in a thriller at Cusack to book their Munster final spot with Cork in two weeks time.

A bright start for both sides saw Clare miss a goal chance inside the opening 20 seconds while Cian Casey missed a point opportunity for Limerick.

Keelan Geyler then opened the scoring with two points from play and one from placed ball inside the opening seven minutes as the banner made the better start.

Cathal O’Neill and Cormac Ryan were off target with point attempts for Limerick while Mark Rodgers added a fourth point for Clare in the 8th minute to give his side a 0-04 to 0-0 lead.

William Halpin made it five unanswered points with another well taken point from play inside 11 minutes. Danny O’Leary and Bob Purcell then responded with points from play to cut the deficit to three points.

Colin Coughlan then landed a point form an impossible angle wide on the left to reduced the arrears even further. There was no doubt that Limerick had made a slow start but Antóin Power would have been happy with the response as Cathal O’Neill landed a fourth Limerick point to make it a one point game.

Bob Purcell then equalised for Limerick much to the delight of the travelling support but that was quickly cancelled out by Keelan Guyler who added Clare’s sixth point from play.

Crecora’s Cathal O’Neill then levelled from placed ball to make it level at eight points apiece. Ben Herlihy then came to Limerick’s rescue with a diving clearance off the line to save what should have been a certain goal.

Guyler punished Limerick from the resultant ’65 to edge Clare back into the lead which was quickly followed up by a free to make it a two point game. With the clock ticking towards the half hour, Mounsey found a gap in the Limerick defence before offloading to Mark Rodgers who finished the ball to the back of the net and open up a five point lead.

A response was needed and when Patrick Kirby ran straight at the Clare defence it opened up space for Cormac Ryan who fired past Cillian O’Brien to make it Limerick 1-6 Clare 1-8 at the break. Again it was a superb response from Limerick who would have the aid of a significant breeze in the second half.

Bob Purcell drew first blood of the second half with a long range point but Guyler cancelled that out with a free a minute later. Danny O’Leary then fought for possession and landed a fine score before Purcell again pointed to level proceedings at 1-09 apiece.

Barry O’Connor then slalomed through the Clare defence and pointed off his right hand side to give Limerick the lead for the first time in the 36th minute. The Limerick defence were then guilty of over elaborating a clearance and when Shane Meehan dispossessed the Limerick defence, he found Mark Rodgers who scored his second goal of the match.

Limerick didn’t panic with two points from Patrick Kirby and Colin Coughlan to level before Clare hit the front once more with two Robin Mounsey points to make it Clare 2-11, Limerick 1-12.

The superb Bob Purcell scored his fifth point of the game with a cracking long range score but Guyler responded with another top quality score.

Cillian O’Brien then pulled off a superb save down low to his left from a goal bound Cormac Ryan bullet. Cathal O’Neill knocked over the resultant 65.

Substitute Tony Butler then introduced himself with a point to make it a two point game as the game ticked towards the final ten minutes. Conor Hegarty made it a tree point game with another Clare point before his Limerick namesake Diarmuid cancelled it out to reduce to gap to two points once more.

Cathal O’Neill reduced the gap to just a point with a 65 before the imperious Bob Purcell levelled with his sixth point from play. Keelan Guyler then put the banner back in front with a strike from the sideline.

Robin Mounsey then collected a breaking ball and fired over the bar to make it a two point game. Three points in a row from Limerick through O’Neill (2) and McEvoy had Limerick back in front.

Conor Hegarty levelled for Clare as the game ticked into the dying minutes. Possession was going to be crucial and when Limerick forced a 65, Cathal O’Neill stepped with to split the posts and give Limerick a 1-21 to 2-17 lead and book their Munster final place.

Clare: 1 Cillian O’Brien (Clonlara), 2 Jack Enright (Newmarket), 3 Adam Mungovan (Doora-Barefield), 4 Mike Gough (Smith O’Briens), 5 Darragh Healy (Clarecastle), 6 Dylan McMahon(Clonlara), 7 Jason Griffin (Inagh-Kilnamona), 8 Aidan Moriarty (Clonlara), 9 Gearoid O’Grady (Kilmihil), 10 William Halpin (Tulla), 11 Robin Mounsey (Ruan), 12 Keelan Guyler (Inagh-Kilnamona), 13 Mark Rodgers (Scariff),  14 Shane Meehan (Banner), 15 Conor Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona)

Subs: 16 Shane White (Sixmilebridge), 17 Paddy Donnellan (Broadford, 18 Tony Butler (Doora-Barefield), 19 Jack Minogue (Bodyke), 20 Fionn Slattery (Bodyke), 21 Josh Brack (Clarecastle), 22 Cian Mulqueen (Broadgord), 23 Cian Galvin (Clarecastle), 24 Ashley Brohan (Ruan).

Limerick: 1 Bryan Heavey (Garryspillane), 2 Padraig Harnett (Ahane), 3 Ben Herlihy (Castletown-Ballyagran), 4 Michael Keane (Adare), 5 Eoin O’Mahony (Garryspillane), 6 Emmet McEvoy (Na Piarsaigh), 7 Jack Nicholas (Murroe-Boher), 8 Patrick Kirby (Patrickswell), 9 Barry O’Connor (Ballybrown), 10 Danny O’Leary (Bruff), 11 Cormac Ryan (Doon), 12 Cathal O’Neill (Crecora Manister), 13 Colin Coughlan (Ballybrown), 14 Bob Purcell (Doon), 15 Cian Casey (Claughaun).

Subs: 16 James Mason (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), 17 Bryan Nix (Newcastle West), 18 Diarmuid Hegarty (St Patricks), 19 Micheal Martin (Ballybricken-Bohermore), 20 Andrew Shanahan (Ahane), 21 David Hickey (Murroe-Boher), 22 Patrick Byrne (Ballybricken-Bohermore), 23 Jimmy Quilty (Blackrock), 24 Seamus Hurley (Mungret St Pauls).

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