Rewatchables: Carey’s magic as Limerick’s seal 1996 Munster semi-final win over Clare

*First published on 16 June 2021.

In our new ‘Rewatchables’ series We take a trip down memory lane and delve into some of Limerick GAA’s greatest ever games.

And 25 years to the day since, there is no better place to start than Limerick’s iconic win over defending All-Ireland champions Clare in the 1996 Munster semi-final.

While it will go down in history as the game where Ciaran Carey scored one of the greatest points of all time, the match itself was fascinating from start to finish as Limerick gunned down the defending champions.

Limerick 1-13 : 0-15 Clare

1996 Munster Hurling Championship Semi-Final

16 June at the Gaelic Grounds

First Half

In front of a packed out Gaelic Grounds, Limerick welcomed the reigning All-Ireland champions Clare who had claimed a first Liam MacCarthy title since 1932 the previous September.

Ger Loughnane’s side had beaten Limerick in the 1995 Munster final after the Shanonsiders had been shocked at the death in the 1994 All-Ireland final.

With the crowd at feverpitch on a glorious June day on the Ennis Road, the intensity was at a high level from the get go.

Ger O’Loughlin grabbed the games first goal with a bit of genius play, striking first time over the bar to put Clare into the lead after three minutes.

Limerick 0-0 : 0-1 Clare

In what has become a dying art of the game, the first time pull was to the fore throughout with Mike Houlihan’s effort after five minutes a rare commodity in today’s game.

Limerick 0-0 : 0-2 Clare

His miss coupled with a Jamesie O’Connor score saw the Banner open up a two point lead before Limerick replied with three on the bounce, with Gary Kirby grabbing each including a superb score that saw him win a free before coolly slotting over from distance.

Limerick 0-2 : 0-2 Clare

Kirby then gave Limerick the lead for the first time of the afternoon.

Jamesie O’Connor was on hand with his second of the day to bring the sides level with Fergal Tuohy pulling the Banner clear. Kirby and O’Connor would exchange scores before TJ Ryan got his first of the day with a brilliant point from the puckout.

Limerick 0-5 : 0-5 Clare

Four minutes after TJ’s leveller and Limerick had the only goal of the game with Kirby expertly finishing after a lengthy run through the Clare rearguard.

Limerick 1-5 : 0-5 Clare

But Limerick failed to capitalize on that goal and it was Clare who would grab the initiative with the final two scores of the half to trail by just one at the interval.

Half-Time: Limerick 1-5: 0-7 Clare

Second Half

With n let up in intensity, Ger O’Loughlin had the sides level immediately from the restart before Mike Galligan replied in kind for the hosts a minute later.

Limerick 1-6 : 0-8 Clare

Eamonn Taffe had the sides level for the sixth time in the 38th minute but as Mike Houlihan this time restored Limerick’s minor advantage.

Limerick 1-7 : 0-9 Clare

Seanie McMahon and Kirby were the next pair to trade efforts with Kirby’s score coming in the 42nd minute.

Limerick 1-8 : 0-10 Clare

McMahon had his second of the day to bring the teams level for the eight time with 25 minutes to play. Taffe’s gave Clare their first lead since the 23rd minute with Jamesie O’Conor’s fifth of the game giving them a two point cushion. Tuohy then extended that lead out to three approaching the final 20 minutes. Things could have been a lot worse for Limerick had Ronan O’Hara collected Fergal Hegarty’s pass in front of goal.

Limerick 1-8 : 0-14 Clare

Gary Kirby broke Limerick’s fifteen minute duck without a score from a free. At the other end of the fied, Limerick had Declan Nash to thank with the defender putting his body on the line to stop Taffe’s goalward shot.

Limerick 1-9 : 0-14 Clare

Seanie McMahon’s third off the half had the gap out to three once more heading into the final ten minutes but that would be Clare’s last score of the day and the last for ten minutes. It might have been a greater margin had a bootless Jamesie O’Connor had his sixth score.

Limerick 1-9 : 0-15 Clare

Trailing by three and with the clock approaching the red, Barry Foley had only Limerick’s fifth point of the half as he finished off TJ Ryan’s clever pass. In additional time, Kirby made it a one point game as he slotted over after Podge Tobin had been denied a goal by Davy Fitz.

Limerick 1-11 : 0-15 Clare

The equalizer would come moments later as Barry Foley dispossessed his man and launched over a huge score. From the resulting puckout, Ciaran Carey would fetch the sliotar and drive deep into the Clare defence before slotting over arguably the greatest score of all time to give Limerick the lead against the reigning All-Ireland champions.

Limerick 1-13 : 0-15 Clare

With only moments to go after Carey’s point, the referee brought to an end a thrilling encounter as Limerick knocked out the defending champions to move into a third successive Munster final, avenging the defeat in the previous encouter.

Full-Time: Limerick 1-13 : 0-15 Clare

Watch the game in full below.

Limerick v Clare (1995 Munster Hurling Semi-Final)

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