Limerick banished the memories of Cusack Park last year to record a massive 1-28 to 0-13 win over Clare at the Gaelic Grounds and take a huge step towards progressing out of the Munster Round Robin series.
Nothing focused the mind like knockout hurling and it was evident from the very start as both sides ran at each other with ferocious intent.
A Kyle Hayes run inside the first 30 seconds drew a foul which Aaron Gillane pointed from placed ball for the first points of the day. It was quickly cancelled out by a Peter Duggan free for Clare.
Gillane was prominent again in the next attack with a half goal chance presenting itself. The Patrickswell man slipped but recovered to fire over a point.
Clare forged a goal chance which they really should have converted but for a timely intervention from Declan Hannon. Limerick cleared up the other end and Hegarty drew a foul with Gillane converting the free.
Limerick were finding their feet nicely but the Banner again fluffed a guilt edged goal chance. This time Sean Finn was the man to make the crucial block.
Clare were struggling to retain their puck outs and another mis hit saw Limerick turn the ball over allowing Gearoid Hegarty to knock it over to make it 0-5 to 0-1. The next attack saw Hannon in an acre of space and the Adare man made no mistake to make it a 5-point lead.
Peter Duggan landed a free to settle Clare nerves and reduce the gap to 4. Limerick’s defence was again stretched as Clare created another clear goal chance.
Once again Sean Finn was the man making the difference. James Owens was playing advantage and called the play back for Duggan to convert another free.
Gillane and Duggan swapped frees as the scoreline read Limerick 0-7 Clare 0-3 with Limerick certainly the happier of the two sides.
A slick Gillane offload found Tom Morrissey in space and the Ahane man made no mistake to pop it over from the left hand side in front of the Mackey Stand. The next attack fond Graeme Mulcahy out in front to win the ball, turn and over his right shoulder over the bar.
Duggan kept Clare in touch with two consecutive frees to make it a three point deficit 0-9 to 0-6.
Tom Morrissey responded with a fine point to make it 0-10 to 0-6. Limerick were starting to turn the screw as Gillane won a huge ball on the edge of the 21, beat his man and pointed to make it 0-11 to 0-6.
A slip from Declan Hannon handed Peter Duggan a chance for Clare’s first point from Clare in the 29th minute which he casually knocked over to reduce the gap to 4 points.
Will O’Donoghue then found space to fire over Limericks’ 12th point of the afternoon. Hegarty added another off his left hand side for Limerick’s 13th point. Limerick’s workmate was then to the fore as they forced an over-carrying free. Gillane pointed to make it 0-14 to 0-7.
Peter Casey then claimed a breaking ball from Graeme Mulcahy to pop over Limerick’s 15th point. The half time whilste blew as the teams scurried down the tunnels with John Kiely much the happier with their 0-15 to 0-7 lead.
Clare needed a response after the break but it was Limerick who would get the first score as Tom Morrissey drew a foul with Aaron Gillane converted.
A Tony Kelly point from play and another Peter Duggan free reduced the gap to seven points. Limerick in control on the scoreboard but the Banner starting to find some sort of rhythm.
Graeme Mulcahy knocked over a fine point from play in front of the open stand. In the next attack, Gillane drew a foul and dusted himself down to knock over the 21 metre free.
Diarmaid Byrnes then pointed from deep inside his own half and when Tom Morrissey latched onto a Cian Lynch pass to knock over Limerick’s 20th point of the day. It was four points in a row and the Banner were struggling.
Gillane was out in front to win possession and once again the same result, a white flag and a 0-21 to 0-9 lead. Peter Duggan reduced the gap to 11 with another free.
Limerick again hunting in packs forcing a turnover with Lynch finding Peter Casey in space. The Na Piarsaigh man sent his marker to the shops and fired over a super point.
A sideline cut from Duggan drew applause from the crowd but the game was double scores in favour of the home side.
Clare punch drunk at this stage and when Gillane bore down on goal he delivered the knockout punch past Tuohy. Clare were gone and it was turning into a procession.
Peter Casey added two points from play and Gillane knocked over a free as Limerick cantered away.
Colm Galvin pointed from play but that was cancelled out by a long range Duggan free.
Peter Duggan pulled on a goal chance but his effort sailed over. Limerick responded with a Darragh O’Donovan score to make it 1-27 to 0-13.
Gillane added a 65 in the last puck of the game as Limerick took a huge step towards Munster progression. Job done and on to Thurles next week in fine form.
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