*Little space is afforded by either Marian Quaid and Becky Foley. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
Limerick’s maintained their current hold over neighbours Clare after completing a league and championship double in Clarina on Saturday afternoon.
In truth, the home side just possessed a more clinical edge in front of goal as they somehow managed to keep a scorned Clare at arm’s length in a tie that possessed plenty of championship bite.
After a bloodless National League pummelling to the same opponents a month previously, Clare simply needed to come out fighting. But while the intensity levels were accentuated to new levels, they were ultimately unable to match that determination where it mattered most on the scoreboard. Five goal chances went abegging which in a tight derby was always going to prove costly. And so it proved as a perfectly timed slice of fortune just before the first water break catapulted Limerick into the lead for the first time. It stemmed from a Caoimhe Costelloe free from 65 metres that was allowed hit the rock hard turf and land in the top right corner of the net. And from there Limerick never looked back.
Becky Foley had spectacularly opened the scoring for Clare in only the third minute when flicking a Chloe Morey long range delivery past despairing goalkeeper Laura O’Neill. However, it only took the home side two minutes to make up the ground as Aine Cunningham finished a poacher’s goal in the fifth minute.
The sides would be level twice more before that sucker-punch that left Clare trailing by 2-2 to 1-2 entering the second quarter.
Clare’s luck didn’t change for the third quarter as despite a more advanced role for the inspirational Niamh O’Dea, two further goal chances were missed as a superb Eimear Kelly run and shot went straight at goalkeeper O’Neill while an instinctive Chloe Morey shot on the turn just went the wrong side of the crossbar in the 42nd minute.
Equally at the other end, Maire McGrath had to be alert to block a Costelloe shot as Limerick went in 2-10 to 1-08 clear for the final water break.
The decisive moment of the game arrived in the 49th minute when Chloe Morey’s brilliant catch was rewarded with a penalty after being dragged to the ground by marker Muireann Creamer. However, typifying Clare’s fortunes on the day, Morey didn’t connect properly as the ball drifted left and wide of the target.
Both sides emptied their bench for the remainder while Limerick’s Deborah Murphy also got her marching orders for two quick yellow cards before the finish. However, Clare never looked like turning the tide during that period as Limerick expertly prevailed to book their place in a Munster Semi-Final against Waterford next Saturday.
Scorers for Limerick: Caoimhe Costelloe (0-9, 6f, 2’45); Aine Cunningham (1-0); Karen O’Leary, Deborah Murphy, Caoimhe Lyons (0-1 each)
Scorers for Clare: Chloe Morey (0-6, 4f, 1’45); Becky Foley (1-0); Eimear Kelly (0-2); Aine O’Loughlin (0-1)
1: Laura O’Neill (Na Piarsaigh)
2: Marian Quaid (Bruff)
3: Muireann Creamer (Cappamore)
4: Roisin Ambrose (Newcastlewest)
5: Mairead Ryan (Clooney-Quin)
6: Judith Mulcahy (Ahane)
7: Niamh Ryan (Bruff)
8: Karen O’Leary (Newcastlewest)
9: Megan O’Mara (Monaleen)
10: Deborah Murphy (Newcastlewest)
11: Sophie O’Callaghan (Adare)
12: Rebecca Delee (Newcastlewest)
15: Caoimhe Lyons (Monaleen)
14: Caoimhe Costelloe (Adare)
13: Aine Cunningham (Killeedy)
17: Néamh Curtin (Ballybrown) for O’Mara (HT),
20: Dearbhla Egan (Crecora) for Lyons (56)
19: Aisling Scanlon (Killeedy) for O’Callaghan (57)
18: Sinead McNamara (Na Piarsaigh) for Cunningham (57)
21: Laura Stack (Milford) for Delee (58)
1: Doireann Murphy (Clarecastle)
4: Susan Daly (Scariff-Ogonnelloe)
3: Clare Hehir (Inagh-Kilnamona)
2: Ciara Grogan (Clooney-Quin)
5: Alannah Ryan (Kilkishen)
6: Niamh O’Dea (Kilmaley)
7: Laura McMahon (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
8: Orlaith Duggan (Clooney-Quin)
9: Ziyan Spillane (Feakle-Killanena)
14: Chloe Morey (Sixmilebridge)
10: Máire McGrath (Sixmilebridge)
11: Aine O’Loughlin (Truagh-Clonlara)
13: Eimear Kelly (Truagh-Clonlara)
23: Bridin Dinan (Tulla)
12: Becky Foley (Truagh-Clonlara)
20: Siofra Ní Chonaill (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield) for Spillane (37)
22: Greta Hickey (Whitegate) for Dinan (37)
17: Clodagh O’Halloran (Newmarket-on-Fergus) for Kelly (56)
19: Sinead Conlon (Tulla) for Daly (56)
18: Roisin Minogue (Bodyke) for McGrath (58)
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork)