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*Clare’s Oscar Traynor starting eleven. Photograph: Oliver Fitzpatrick

Clare have been defeated in their opening outing of the 2019/20 Oscar Traynor competition.

Limerick District League 2
Clare 1
Venue: Jackman Park, Limerick

Reigning champions Limerick got their defence of the Oscar Traynor trophy off to a winning start on Thursday night earning a deserved three points at the expense of Clare. Twice in this decade, Clare have claimed the national title but just three members of that squad featured over the course of ninety minutes, namely captain Conor Mullan plus attackers David McCarthy and Eoin Hayes.

With the best of club players in their county at their disposal, facing off with Limerick’s strong outfit was always going to be a tough task for a relatively inexperienced Clare side which saw four starting players make their first appearance in the competition.

Neither side hit the net in the opening half. David McCarthy came close for the visitors on twenty five minutes. The Newmarket Celtic striker was fouled on the edge of the box and his subsequent free kick hit off the wall and went inches away from Gary Neville’s goal. Centre-half Pat Mullins almost put Limerick in front with thirty seven minutes played, he rose highest to meet an Eoin Hanrahan corner but saw his effort tail wide.

Clare took the lead on fifty two minutes. Kieran Mahony put Shannon’s Rory Hayes through on goal and he made no mistake who blasted the ball to the net in what was his first outing for a county soccer side.

This was the wake-up call for the Treaty County. Managed by former Limerick FC assistant boss, John Grehan, they began to take control of proceedings and were level within fifteen minutes. Clyde O’Connell headed past Shane Cusack from a Danny O’Neill corner, the Geraldines full back posed plenty of problems for the Banner defence throughout with his deliveries from set pieces.

Indeed it was another O’Neill corner that led to the winning strike, five minutes later. His delivery was parried by Cusack into the path of striker Connor Ellis with the ex Limerick FC striker punishing the Clare defence and putting his side top of Group C.

Shane Keegan’s Clare will be in need of an improved showing when they welcome Kerry to Frank Healy Park for their next outing which is expected to take place in mid November. Anything other than a win will make their prospects of making the knockout stages very unlikely. The opportunities fell their way but a killer instinct was certainly missing.

On Tuesday, Limerick District League are back in action when they face off with rivals Limerick Desmond League in Askeaton. The Desmond League picked up a point on Sunday drawing 0-0 with Kerry.

Limerick: Gary Neville (Pike Rovers), Danny O’Neill (Geraldines), Pat Mullins (Pike Rovers), John Mullane (Fairview Rangers), Michael Guerin (Ballynanty Rovers); Clyde O’Connell (Fairview Rangers), Shane Walsh (Pike Rovers); Colin Daly (Pike Rovers), Eoin Hanrahan (Pike Rovers), Connor Ellis (Ballynanty Rovers); Kieran Hanlon (Ballynanty Rovers).

Subs: AJ O’Connor (Fairview Rangers) for Guerin, Keith Mawdsley (Pike Rovers) for Walsh, Adrian Power (Ballynanty Rovers) for Hanrahan, Shane Clarke (Aisling) for Hanlon.

Clare: Shane Cusack (Newmarket Celtic); Conor Mullen (Avenue Utd), Aidan Leahy (Shannon Town), Dylan Casey (Avenue Utd), Ciaran Monaghan (Sporting Ennistymon), Callum McNamara (Newmarket Celtic), Kieran Hackett (Shannon Town), David McCarthy (Newmarket Celtic), Kieran Mahoney (Newmarket Celtic), Cian O’Dea (Corofin Harps), Rory Hayes (Shannon Town).

Subs: Nathan Walsh (Shannon Hibs) for Leahy, Ruairí Norrby (Lifford) for Monaghan, Cian McDonough (Avenue Utd) for Hackett, Eoin Hayes (Newmarket Celtic) for McCarthy.

Referee: D Power.

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