*Ian McNamara. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

CLARE’s U20 hurlers were left cursing Crecora’s Cathal O’Neill with the sharpshooter raiding for 1-01 in the space of 35 seconds to snatch victory from the Banner County.

Limerick 3-07
Clare 0-15
Venue: TUS Gaelic Grounds, Limerick

If ever the saying ‘it’s not over until the final whistle’ was applicable then this contest ticks the box. Clare were on course to begin their Munster campaign with a win, maybe they thought the result was wrapped up but Limerick with Cathal O’Neill on the field are always a threat and so it proved as he shoved the hosts ahead for the first time in fifty nine minutes.

It was an opening half that didn’t set the world alight with Clare playing with the aid of a strong gale but failing to let the scoreboard reflect this. Their return of eight wides and missed goal chances from Jack Kirwan and Keith Smyth needed to be converted in order to build up a sizeable advantage.

Limerick had 1-01 on the board within the space of seventy two seconds, senior stars Colin Coughlan and O’Neill doing the damage. Five points in succession saw Clare take the lead and it was they held up until the dying stages.

Crucially, the failure of Clare to convert any of their four goal chances in the game was costly with Limerick pulling the trigger successfully via O’Neill on the double and an excellent ground strike from Patrick Kirby on one, thirty nine and sixty four minutes respectively.

As the game wore on, Limerick continued to exert more pressure, an excellent Keelan Hartigan hook denied a likely green flag but when Shane Punch received his marching orders for pulling down a Limerick opponent, O’Neill duly obliged in sticking the sliotar past Cian Broderick who himself made two fine second half saves.

Without question, this was a game Clare should have won and they have no choice but to learn from it in time for their next outing with a stronger Cork side. Ian McNamara was superb at corner back for Terence Fahy’s side with Adam Hogan, Conner Hegarty and Diarmuid Cahill also making strong contributions.

Diarmuid Mullins will be counting his lucky stars as despite a very poor showing, Limerick came out on the right side. Jimmy Quilty was the best player for the Treaty County with O’Neill the match winner.

SCORERS: Limerick: Cathal O’Neill 2-3 (1-0free), Patrick Kirby 1-0, Aidan O’Connor 0-2 (1free), Colin Coughlan and Jimmy Quilty 0-1 each.

Clare: Shane Punch 0-6 (5frees), Patrick Crotty and Keith Smyth 0-2 each, Colm O’Meara, Jack Kirwan, Diarmuid Cahill, Conner Hegarty and Cian Galvin 0-1 each.

Limerick:
1: Conor Hanley Clarke (Kilmallock)

2: Chris Thomas (Doon)
3: Fergal O’Connor (Effin)
4: Evan O’Leary (Ahane)

5: Colin Coughlan (Ballybrown)
6: Jimmy Quilty (Blackrock)
7: Ethan Hurley (Newcastlewest)

8: Joe Sweeney (Adare)
9: Eddie Stokes (Doon)

10: Aidan O’Connor (Ballybrown)
11: Cathal O’Neill (Crecora Manister)
12: Adam English (Doon)

13: Shane O’Brien (Kilmallock)
14: Patrick Kirby (Patrickswell)
15: Donnacha Ó Dalaigh (Monaleen)

Subs:
17: Patrick Reale (Knockainey) for Ó Dalaigh (54)
22: Cian Scully (Dromin Athlacca Banogue) for Thomas (56)

Clare:
1: Cian Broderick (Clarecastle)

2: Ian McNamara (Killanena)
3: Adam Hogan (Feakle)
4: John Conneally (Clooney/Quin)

5: Jarlath Collins (Éire Óg)
6: Cian Galvin (Clarecastle)
7: Colm O’Meara (Clonlara)

8: Oisin Clune (Feakle)
9: Conner Hegarty (Inagh/Kilnamona)

10: Shane Punch (Ruan)
11: Patrick Crotty (Scariff)
12: Cormac Murphy (O’Callaghans Mills)

13: Josh Guyler (Inagh/Kilnamona)
14: Jack Kirwan (Parteen)
15: Diarmuid Cahill (Corofin)

Subs:
18: Keith Smyth (Killanena) for Guyler (23)
17: Conor Leen (Corofin) for Collins (38) (inj)
22: Oisin O’Donnell (Crusheen) for Kirwan (52)
21: Keelan Hartigan (Scariff) for O’Meara (58)

Referee: Nathan Wall (Cork)

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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