*Mark Rodgers reacts to a missed opportunity. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

There was no stopping Limerick’s historic drive for an unprecedented six-in-a-row of Munster Senior hurling crowns as Clare were made to suffer their third final defeat on the trot in FBD Sem-ple Stadium in Thurles.

Limerick 1-26
Clare 1-20
Venue: FBD Semple Stadium, Thurles

Of all three deciders, this was Limerick’s most dominant display as they brushed off Peter Dug-gan’s equalising free just before the break to quickly re-establish full control on the restart and never deviate from their historic task.

On the flip side, Clare saved their most stagnant performance of this year’s provincial series for last, never reaching the heights of previous group matches and struggling in many areas of the field.

Even Duggan’s remarkably injury-time lifeline to squeeze a rebound from an acute angle past goalkeeper Nickie Quaid to regain full parity by the break, the Banner couldn’t gain the upper hand in the second period.

Hit by a sucker-punch goal through a Gearoid Hegarty pull in the 46th minute, Brian Lohan’s side battled on but failed to get the desired goal to kickstart their challenge.

Mark Rodgers had a shot saved in the 55th minute while two minutes later, a second effort ago-nisingly cannoned off the right post after Tony Kelly had made a vital interception.

A goal at that stage would have actually slashed the deficit to just two but realistically it would be the Banner’s final opportunity to cause an upset.

David Reidy, Gearoid Hegarty and a match-winning half-back unit of Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon and Kyle Hayes were instrumental in breaking new ground for this extraordinary Limerick side who were the better side for the final three quarters of the final.

Shane O’Donnell caused major problems early on but Clare predominantly failed to supply him for the remainder and would lose their way as a consequence.

Aidan McCarthy did have a glorious goal chance at the midway mark of the opening half after a great burst by Mark Rodgers. However, Nickie Quaid managed to parry the effort while Diarmaid Byrnes just got back in the nick of time to clear off the line before Rodgers could apply the re-bound finish.

Six first half wides and as many misses from frees proved just as costly through as Limerick be-gan to put daylight between the sides at 0-13 to 0-09 by the 32nd minute. However, there would be a kick from Clare as a long range David Fitgerald point was accentuated by that 37th minute goal for Duggan that stemmed from a monster Kelly free that the Clooney-Quin man initially flicked towards goal. Quaid saved and attempted to flick the ball clear but struck only as far as Duggan who made no mistake the second time around at 0-13 to 1-10.

Clare had got out of jail but were soon shackled in chains once more on the restart as a more balanced Limerick moved through the gears again with the first four points of the new half.
Aidan McCarthy grabbed a brace in riposte but Hegarty’s goal effectively gave John Kiely’s side enough leeway to dictate matters for the remainder at 1-18 to 1-12.

Clare craved a goal but were ultimately denied by the post, a frustrating outcome that summed up their entire afternoon as the Banner can have no complaints about the result on this occasion.

Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-5 (4f), Diarmaid Byrnes 0-5 (2f), Gearoid Hegarty 1-2, Tom Morrissey 0-4 (1f), Declan Hannon 0-2, David Reidy 0-2, Shane O’Brien 0-2, Kyle Hayes 0-2, Cathal O’Neill 0-1, Adam English 0-1

Scorers for Clare: Aidan McCarthy 0-8 (6f), David Fitzgerald 0-4, Peter Duggan 1-1, Tony Kelly 0-3, Mark Rodgers 0-2 (2f) Shane O’Donnell 0-1, Ian Galvin 0-1

Limerick
1: Nickie Quaid (Effin)

4: Barry Nash (South Liberties)
2: Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh)
3: Dan Morrissey (Ahane)

5: Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell)
6: Declan Hannon (Adare)
7: Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry)

8: Will O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh)
15: Cian Lynch (Patrickswell)

10: Gearoid Hegarty (St Patrick’s)
9: Cathal O’Neill (Crecora Manister)
12: Tom Morrissey (Ahane)

11: David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca)
13: Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell)
14: Shane O’Brien (Kilmallock)

Subs
17: Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for Hegarty (22-23, BS)
19: Adam English (Doon) for Lynch (53)
17: Boylan for O’Neill (63)
25: Donnacha Ó Dalaigh (Monaleen) for Gillane (68)
23: Aidan O’Connor (Ballybrown) for Reidy (69)
21: Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock) for Morrissey (72)

Clare

1: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

2: Adam Hogan (Feakle)
3: Conor Cleary (Kilmaley/St Joseph’s Miltown)
17: Conor Leen (Corofin)

6: John Conlon (Clonlara)
5: Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe)
7: David McInerney (Tulla)

9: Darragh Lohan (Wolfe Tones)
10: Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)

8: David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona)
11: Mark Rodgers (Scariff)
12: Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin)

13: Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona)
14: Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)
22: Tony Kelly (Ballyea)

Subs
21: Paddy Donnellan (Broadford) for Malone (29-30, BS)
15: David Reidy (Éire Óg) for Lohan (62)
20: Ian Galvin (Clonlara) for McCarthy (63)
4: Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones) for Cleary (65)

Referee: Colm Lyons (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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