*Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
A physically stronger Limerick qualified for their first Munster minor football final since 1998 when they proved too strong for Clare at Cusack Park this Friday evening.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Failure to convert early dominance into scores didn’t help Clare who were seeking to get to the provincial final for the fourth time in five years. Once Limerick got a grip on proceedings midway through the opening half, they dominated the exchanges and were full value for their victory.
The home side dominated the early play but they had recorded three poor wides before Craig Riordan opened their account when he converted a 35m free in the fifth minute.
Wing back Odhran Cunningham and Riordan had stretched Clare’s lead to three before the winners opened their account through defender Lorcan Murphy in the fifteenth Murphy leaving the score at 0-3 to 0-1 in Clare’s favour at the first water break.
When play resumed Limerick took control and they landed three points without reply to lead by one with twenty minutes played. Conor Meaney levelled the tie for the home side before a Jack Somers effort put Limerick back in front and they were never headed.
The first goal came seven minutes from half time when the winner’s captain Darragh Murphy converted what appeared to be a harshly awarded penalty against the Clare goalie Cian Corry who had made a fine save from Emmett Rigter.
Limerick went on to lead at the break by six points, 1-8 to 0-5.
Clare introduced Cillian Gavin at half time in place of Conor Fennell and they landed the opening two points of the second half.
Just before the end of the third quarter the visitors struck for goal number two when Ronan Quirke applied the finish and a few minutes later Emmett Rigter stretched their lead further when he drilled home their third goal.
Clare battled to the end and landed tshe ast two points of the game but their failure to match Limerick’s physical presence proved decisive on the day.
Just before the final whistle Clare were reduced to fourteen players when corner forward Sean Rynne was shown a straight red card following an off the ball incident brought to the attention of the referee by one of his umpires.
Scorers; Limerick: Darragh Murray (1-4, 1-0 penalty 0-3 frees\) Emmett Rigter, Ronan Quirke (1-0) each Conal O’Duinnn (0-2), Lorcah Murphy, Jack Somers, Mark Nolan, Ruairi Cronin, Sean Geraghty (0-1) each
Scorers Clare: Craig Riordan (0-6, 2 frees, 2 ‘45’s); Odhran Cunningham, Dylan O’Brien, Oisin Sexton, Conor Meaney, Sean McMahon (Miltown), Sean Rynne (0-1) each
1: Craig MacInnes (St. Kierans)
2: Culann Quigley (Fr. Caseys)
3: Jamie Behan (Ballybrown)
4: Darragh Clifford (Monaleen)
5: Lorcan Murphy (St, Kierans)
6: Aaron Neville (Newcastle West)
21: Cathal O’Mahony (Galbally)
8: James Somers(Mungret (St. Pauls)
9: Darragh Murray (Monaleen) Captain
10: Mark Nolan (Fr. Caseys)
11: Emmet Rigter (Newcastle West)
12: Oisin O’Farrell (St. Senans)
13: Conall O’Duinn (Monaleen)
14: Ruairi Cronin (Ahane_
15: Ronan Quirke (Fr. Caseys)
Calum Ryan (Askeaton) for Quigley (44)
Sean Geraghty (Newcastle West) for Quirke (46)
Calum Boyle (Fr. Caseys) for O’Mahoney (47)
Shane Cross (St, Patricks) for Nolan (54)
Owen O’Sullivn (Galbally) for O’Duinn(6))
1: Cian Corry (Killimer)
2: Aaron Kelly (Wolfe Tones)
3: James Cullinan (Ennistymon)
4: Brian McNamara (Ennistymon)
5: Josh Moloney (Kilmurry Ibrickane)
6: Diarmuid Comber (Kilmurry Ibrickane)
7: Odhran Cunningham (Killimer)
8: Dylan O’Brien (Kilrush Shamrocks) Captain
9: Conor Fennell (Kilrush Shamrocks)
12: Conor Meaney (Lissycasey)
11: Sean McMahon (Banner)
10: Oisín Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane)
13: James Doherty (Clarecastle)
14: Craig Riordan (Wolfe Tones)
15: Sean Rynne (Ennistymon)
Cillian Gavin (Clondegad) for Fennell (HT)
Lorcan Doolin (Ballyvaughan) for Doherty (46)
Sean McMahon (St. Josephs Miltown) for McMahon (Banner) (48);
Referee; Cormac Dineen, Cork