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*All photographs by Gerard O’Neill & Joe Buckley

Clare’s first Munster SHC final appearance since 2018 despite the outcome was a memorable occasion.

Eoin Brennan casts his eye over the performance of the Clare hurlers to dish out the latest player ratings.

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

1: Eibhear Quilligan
A hugely influential part of the Clare engine room despite not being directly confronted with only a handful of shots in all three meetings so far with Limerick. Was frustrated somewhat in not being permitted to take quick puck-outs early on but considering the pressure on restarts, the Feakle stopper introduced plenty of variety throughout to keep Limerick guessing. Made a superb save to deny Seamus Flanagan in the 19th minute but was powerless to stop Gearoid Hegarty’s goal.
Rating: 7

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

2: Rory Hayes
Matched up with Seamus Flanagan for the second successive derby and found him much more of a handful this time around. That said, with the majority of the pre-match attention on Aaron Gillane and Kyle Hayes, the versatile Wolfe Tones star was busy watching the house as much as keeping an eye on Flanagan which did admittedly cough up eight points. Clare won’t underestimate Flanagan again while Hayes was Clare’s best defender in extra-time.
Rating: 7

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

3: Conor Cleary
Didn’t get the opportunity to mark each other at the group stages following their major league tussle that saw the Patrickswell poacher dismissed. However, Conor Cleary and Aaron Gillane’s reunion was worth the entrance fee alone. Invariably one or both reaching the ball without a hurley while crucially, the St Joseph’s Miltown defender kept his marker scoreless from play until the 64th minute. Also made pivotal hook to deny Gillane a goal chance just after half-time.
Rating: 7

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

4: Paul Flanagan
In a year in which the Ballyea defender has been near-flawless, he saved his best for the biggest match of his senior career. Brilliant as a sweeping defender along with practically nullifying versatile powerhouse Kyle Hayes who wasn’t even one of Limerick’s 11 scorers, Flanagan repeatedly emerged out of the defence with possession and was Eibhear Quilligan’s go-to man for short puck-outs to boot. Unfortunately had to retire early through injury nearing the 70 minute mark.
Rating: 9

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

5: Diarmuid Ryan
Hadn’t played since the Limerick group match three weeks earlier and found it difficult to reach his lofty standards upon his return against his near neighbours. Competed well against Tom Morrissey who grabbed three points but there wasn’t the extra gear of inspirational runs forward or trademark long range shots at goal either which suggested perhaps he was carrying an injury. Was duly replaced by Mark Rodgers for extra-time, with Cathal Malone switching to wing-back.
Rating: 6

Man of the match, John Conlon. Photograph: Joe Buckley

6: John Conlon
It’s a testament to the heart and spirit in Conlon that despite taking a few hefty blows and receiving treatment on two or three occasions, he was still defiantly leading the charge up until the 90th minute. As Clare’s oldest player who duly joined the prestigious 50 championship appearance club that less than 50 players in the history of the game can equal, he gave Limerick’s youngest a valuable lesson in positional scene and physicality. Always able to find pockets of space.
Rating: 8

David McInerney

7: David McInerney
Had a real bear-pit tussle with Gearoid Hegarty and ensured that the 2020 National Player of the Year was never allowed the space to pull the strings for Limerick. Was unable to prevent the St Patrick’s man from raiding for his only score of the game as he peeled off behind Clare’s last line for the only goal of the entire contest in the 27th minute. However, that was the exception in an otherwise healthy wrestle for supremacy with the towering Hegarty.
Rating: 7

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

10: Cathal Malone
More of a sitting midfielder in what was his third Munster decider which allowed Ryan Taylor in particular the freedom to repeatedly break the lines and cause Limerick no end of headaches. Malone finished the first half very strongly and it was that unyielding willingness to work tirelessly for the cause that saw a rare switch of position to wing-back for the 20 minutes of extra-time appear quite seamless and almost premeditated.
Rating: 7

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

15: Ryan Taylor
A player that not only has impressed Brian Lohan and unquestionably the Clare supporters but must be on the All-Star radar too at this stage as this was simply Ryan Taylor’s best ever performance in a Clare jersey. Latching on to almost every break and taking on the Limerick rearguard consistently, the tireless Clooney/Quin star had fired over three points in the first quarter alone and was still trucking well in extra-time to tee up David Fitzgerald for one of Clare’s final scores.
Rating: 9

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

8: David Fitzgerald
The fact that he is now Clare’s championship top scorer from play with 2-14 in five matches perfectly sums up an unprecedented season for the Inagh/Kilnamona clubman. Ironically, had his quietest period of the campaign in the opening quarter but duly thundered into the contest with two points in a row around the 20 minute mark and never looked back from there. Really seemed to enjoy the 90 minute rollercoaster ride as finished with five points and directly set up three more.
Rating: 9

14: Peter Duggan
Embroiled in another titanic struggle with Limerick’s full-back line throughout as even when Mike Casey had to be withdrawn early through cramp at the turn of the final quarter, Sean Finn also did his best to spoil Duggan’s threat on goal. Didn’t score from play for the second match in a row against Limerick but arrowing over an early lineball, won a brace of frees that Kelly converted and also took over the placed ball taking responsibilities seamlessly in the final quarter.
Rating: 7

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

12: Shane O’Donnell
Like Duggan, Shane O’Donnell’s only scoring blanks in the championship so far have come against Limerick but did carve out Clare’s best chance at a goal in the 46th minute when unleashed by Paul Flanagan to bear down on goal, only to see his shot stopped by the body of full-back Mike Casey. Did aid the defence well and also won three frees, two of which were converted by Tony Kelly. Replaced by returning club-mate David Reidy in second period of extra-time
Rating: 7

13: Ian Galvin
Was fittingly picked out by club-mate John Conlon in the right corner for a 26th minute point but it wasn’t sufficient to ignite a flurry of scores or assists as in the main found Mike Casey a claustrophobic presence, especially early on. To his credit, Galvin has scored in every championship match he has played so far in 2022 but with a scant supply on Sunday, he eventually replaced by Shane Meehan in the final quarter.
Rating: 6

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

11: Tony Kelly
Not enough superlatives to repeatedly describe his heroic performances but two moments epitomise Kelly’s genius that included seven points from play on Sunday. The first was his inspirational hook on Gearoid Hegarty in the 15th minute that was quickly turned into a brilliant solo score while the sheer cojones to step up to that last gasp lineball in the left corner, knowing it was the final puck, was simply immense as he duly dissected the posts to force extra-time.
Rating: 10

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

9: David Reidy
Had two bites of the championship cherry as following a busy first stint as a roaming corner-forward that only ended in the 63rd minute after being replaced by Robin Mounsey, the Éire Óg forward received another cameo when coming on for club-mate Shane O’Donnell in extra-time. Didn’t manage to get on the scoreboard in either period but battled hard in what was only his third game back in the fold and by far his longest championship outing to date.
Rating: 6

Subs:

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

19: Shane Meehan
The first to be sprung from the bench entering the final quarter and had a point on the board within five minutes of his introduction. Also teed up Tony Kelly for his final score in the second period of extra-time.
Rating: 7

23: Robin Mounsey
Came in for Shane O’Donnell but found it difficult to get up to speed as Limerick’s miserly defence was in no mood to hand out any change. Hit a wide in extra-time.
Rating: 6

18: Cian Nolan
Came in for the injured Paul Flanagan at the end of normal time and didn’t let the side down as he kept a fresher Limerick at arm’s length.
Rating: 6

26: Mark Rodgers
A welcome sight as Mark Rodgers re-emerged for extra-time for his first championship appearance of 2022. Scored a free and had a goal chance at the death deflected over the bar.
Rating: 6

25: Patrick Crotty
Not on long enough to be rated

21: Shane Golden
Not on long enough to be rated

 

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