Valiant Limerick fall to Clare in epic Munster Football semi-final

Things couldn’t have got off to a worse start for the Shannonsiders, Keelan Sexton showing his value with an excellent solo goal.

Four unanswered scores down the stretch was enough for Clare to see off Limerick in a Munster semi-final epic in the TUS Gaelic Grounds this evening.

The Banner were 1-16 to 0-16 winners with Keelan Sexton’s third minute goal ultimately proving the difference.

Limerick led midway through the second half but a late flurry from the visitors pulled them over the line to send Limerick into the Tailteann Cup.

22 April 2023; Hugh Bourke of Limerick in action against Keelan Sexton of Clare during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Limerick and Clare at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Tom Beary/Sportsfile

Things couldn’t have got off to a worse start for the Shannonsiders, Keelan Sexton showing his value with an excellent solo goal, skinning his opponent before slotting past Donal O’Sullivan. Jamie Malone followed up with a well taken point with the writing on the wall.

But the Limerick response was positive, Cathal Downes sending over a long range effort before James Naughton halved the deficit from a free.

Back to back Clare efforts from Eoin Cleary and Dermot Coughlan made it 1-3 to 0-2 after 18 minutes.

Limerick replied with three on the bounce, Downes again from range with Cillian Fahy and Sean O’Dea getting up from defence to add to the scoresheet.

Donal O’Sullivan and Peter Nash then responded to Clare scores before a pair from the visitors rounded out the half to leave a goal in it at the break.

Cleary was off the mark in the second half inside 30 seconds of the restart but Naughton was equal to that with a free. Sexton then capitalised on a turnover to make it 1-9 to 0-8 after 43 minutes.

Hugh Bourke then made it a one score game after replacing Iain Corbett at half time. Naughton fired over his third to leave it 0-10 to 1-9. Barry Coleman added his first-ever championship score to bring it within a point. A super Bourke score made it level with fifteen to play. The Adare man then immediately added his third of the half and Limerick were in front for the first time.

Clare’s main man Sexton brought parity from the next play. But Limerick were patient and Cillian Fahy was on hand to supply the finish. Sexton again had the answers to leave it level with ten to play.

UL student Emmet McMahon kicked from way out to give Clare their first advantage in ten minutes. Coleman had the reply for Limerick, swinging over off his left.

Cleary kicked Clare in front at one end but Limerick should have goaled at the other, Stephen Ryan saving superbly from Brian Donovan. The visitors then pushed two in front, Daniel Walsh popping over. That was with the final play of normal time before five were added on.

McMahon’s second then put a goal between the teams. Cillian Rouine added to the lead and while Brian Donovan reduced the gap, it wasn’t enough for Mark Fitzgerald’s side.

Scorers for Limerick: Hugh Bourke (0-3), James Naughton (0-3, frees), Barry Coleman, Cathal Downes, Cillian Fahy (0-2), Brian Donovan, Peter Nash, Sean O’Dea, Donal O’Sullivan (f) (0-1)

Scorers for Clare: Keelan Sexton (1-4 ), Eoin Cleary (0-4, frees), Emmet McMahon (0-2), Jamie Malone, Pearse Lillis, Cillian Brennan, Dermot Coughlan, Daniel Walsh (0-1)

Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan; Mike Donovan, Seán O’Dea, Brian Fanning; Barry Coleman, Iain Corbett, Jim Liston; Cillian Fahy, Cathal Downes; Cian Sheehan, Colm McSweeney, Paul Maher; James Naughton, Brian Donovan, Peter Nash.

Subs: Hugh Bourke for Corbett (HT), Gordon Brown for Liston (51), Davy Lyons for Nash (64),

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