Limerick have knocked Clare out of the 2018 Munster Minor Hurling Championship.

Limerick 1-21
Clare 2-17
Venue: Cusack Park

A late Cathal O’Neill effort was the difference between the sides for a finish. With one minute remaining in normal time, Clare led by two points but as additional time commenced they seemed to lose their composure.

Both sides enjoyed periods of dominance inside the opening half. Clare were first out of the blocks and hit five points in the first eleven minutes of the game via Keelan Guyler, Mark Rodgers and William Halpin. Limerick didn’t panic and responded with five points of their own as Danny O’Leary, Bob Purcell, Colin Coughlan and Cathal O’Neill split the posts to level matters on twenty minutes.

Full-back Bill Herlihy flung himself across the Limerick goal to deny Shane Meehan a certain gall, the sliotar ricocheted off his ankles and out for a 65 which Keelan Guyler duly converted.

Clare did strike for goal on the twenty ninth minute, a clearance from Adam Mungovan found Robin Mounsey in space, the Ruan man ran through the middle of the Limerick defence and offloaded to William Halpin, his quick hands found Mark Rodgers and he made no mistake.

Straight away, Limerick worked the ball up the field and Cormac Ryan’s shot was stopped by Cillian O’Brien but his touch deflected the ball to the back of the net to leave two points between the sides at half-time.

Again the close nature of the game continued in the second half. Shane Meehan assisted his full-forward line colleague Mark Rodgers to raid for his second goal of the game on thirty seven minutes. As was the case throughout the game Limerick’s response was immediate with two points in succession.

Clonlara’s Cillian O’Brien got down very well to deny Cormac Ryan a green flag, the save came at a crucial stage as the Treaty County were really beginning to get on top.

An exciting finish followed with the game there to be won for whoever wanted it more. It was Limerick that finished the better, Cathal O’Neill hit three scores inside additional time as they dumped their neighbours out of the provincial championship.

Clare will be disappointed when they look back on this game, as was the case in the championship they were punished for fading out of the games. The big positive of the four game series is that is will bring these players on and the harsh lessons learned will hopefully stand to these young hurlers. Tony Butler made an impact when introduced from the bench and some more fresh legs would have do harm as the game reached its climax.

Players like Keelan Guyler, Darragh Healy and Mark Rodgers really impressed throughout the championship run and have bright futures ahead. On this day, Aidan Moriarity was prominent at midfield, corner backs Mike Gough and Jack Enright held firm while substitute Tony Butler was in the minority of Clare players that stood up to the physically stronger Bob Purcell.

Limerick must be applauded for keeping their heads and their belief. They are deserving of a place in the provincial decider and on this day, Patrick Kirby, Ben Herlihy, Cathal O’Neill, Bob Purcell and Emmet McEvoy stood out.

1: Bryan Heavey (Garryspillane)
4: Michael Keane (Adare)
3: Ben Herlihy (Castletown-Ballyagran)
2: Padraig Harnett (Ahane)
5: Eoin O’Mahony (Garryspillane)
6: Emmet McEvoy (Na Piarsaigh) (0-01)
7: Jack Nicholas (Murroe-Boher)
9: Barry O’Connor (Ballybrown) (0-01)
8: Patrick Kirby (Patrickswell) (0-01)
11: Cormac Ryan (Doon) (1-00)
12: Cathal O’Neill (Crecora Manister) (0-07 3f 1’65)
14: Bob Purcell (Doon) (0-06)
10: Danny O’Leary (Bruff) (0-02)
13: Colin Coughlan (Ballybrown) (0-02)
15: Cian Casey (Claughaun)
18: Diarmuid Hegarty (St Patricks) (0-01) for Casey (HT)
17: Bryan Nix (Newcastle West) for O’Leary (47) (Inj)
19: Micheal Martin (Ballybricken-Bohermore) for Coughlan (63)

1 Cillian O Brien (Clonlara)
4 Mike Gough (Smith O Briens)
3 Adam Mungovan (Doora Barefield)
2 Jack Enright (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
5 Darragh Healy (Clarecastle)
6. Dylan McMahon (Clonlara)
7. Jason Griffin (Inagh/Kilnamona)
8. Aidan Moriarty (Clonlara
9. Gearoid O Grady (Kilmihil)
12. Keelan Guyler (Inagh/Kilnamona) (0-09 3f 1’65)
11. Robin Mounsey (Ruan) (0-03)
10. William Halpin (Tulla) (0-01)
13. Mark Rodgers (Scariff) (2-01)
14. Shane Meehan (Banner)
15. Conner Hegarty (Inagh/Kilnamona) (0-02)
18.Tony Butler (Doora Barefield) (0-01) for O’Grady (41)

Referee: Mark Maher (Cork)

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