LIMERICK remain unbeaten in the Munster Hurling Championship after a 1-21 to 0-24 draw with Clare in Cusack Park in Ennis. The sides will now meet again in the Munster Final following Cork’s win over Waterford.
Diarmaid Byrnes landed a long range free in added time to level the game for a 14th time before referee Colm Lyons blew the full time whistle.
The Treatymen will leave Ennis feeling aggrieved to say the least after Gearoid Hegarty was sent off for two harsh yellow cards, while there were plenty of other decisions that will be discussed at length in the coming days.
Limerick fired over the first two points courtesy of a Diarmaid Byrnes ’65 and a Seamus Flanagan point from play.
David Fitzgerald and the first of Tony Kelly’s 12 first half points soon had Clare back on level terms after eight minutes.
John Kiely’s men were soon back in the ascendency with a superb Gearoid Hegarty score and a Byrnes free.
Byrnes landed another placed ball in between two Kelly frees that left the score at 0-5 to 0-4 in Limerick’s favour after 12.
The Clare number 11 then fired over two further frees to put his side ahead before Limerick hit the back of the net thanks to Kyle Hayes.
Conor Boylan made a great catch and raced through on goal but was well hooked on the 21 metre line. Boylan then recovered possession and found Hayes who did the necessary from close range.
Clare didn’t panic, however, with two further Kelly frees levelling the contest for a third time.
Fitzgerald and Diarmuid Ryan then landed two from play for Brian Lohan’s men that saw them 0-10 to 1-5 clear.
As you would expect, Limerick lifted their game again with a David Reidy free and a wonderful Byrnes effort from play squaring the game for a fourth time.
Kelly then gave a further example of his prowess from placed balls with three on the bounce. Byrnes responded in kind with two of his own with Hegarty’s second of the half levelling the game once more.
Tom Morrissey and David Reidy finished the scoring for Limerick in the opening half but Kelly responded to both scores to leave the score at 1-12 to 0-15 at the break.
The teams could not be separated in the opening stages of the second half but two more from Kelly edged Clare ahead.
Limerick remained patient with Hegarty’s fourth of the game and another Byrnes free squaring the game for the 11th occasion on 57 minutes.
It was all square again in the closing stages when Hegarty was shown a second yellow card for what was deemed a strike by referee Lyons.
The harsh call didn’t deter Limerick with Darragh O’Donovan nailing a score to put Limerick one in front.
A controversial Shane Meehan point levelled once more but the score should not have stood as there was a clear pull on Sean Finn’s hurley by Shane O’Donnell in the build up.
Ryan Taylor had Clare in a winning position heading into added time only for a ninth score from Byrnes seeing the game end in a draw.
Scorers – Limerick: Diarmaid Byrnes 0-9 (7f, 1’65), Gearoid Hegarty and David Reidy (4f) 0-4 each, Kyle Hayes 1-0, Seamus Flanagan, Tom Morrissey, Oisin O’Reilly and Darragh O’Donovan 0-1 each.
Scorers – Clare: Tony Kelly 0-16 (10f, 1’65), David Fitzgerald, Diarmuid Ryan and Ryan Taylor 0-2 each, David McInerney and Shane Meehan 0-1 each.
Limerick: Nickie Quaid (Effin); Sean Finn (Bruff), Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh), Barry Nash (South Liberties); Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell), Declan Hannon (Adare, captain), Dan Morrissey (Ahane); Robbie Hanley (Kilmallock), William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh); Gearoid Hegarty (St Patrick’s), Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), Tom Morrissey (Ahane); Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh), Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh), David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca).
Subs: Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock) for Boylan (53), Darragh O’Donovan (Doon) for Hanley (57), Oisin O’Reilly (Kilmallock) for Flanagan (57).
Clare: Eibhear Quilligan; Rory Hayes, Conor Cleary, Paul Flanagan; Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, David McInerney; David Fitzgerald, Jason McCarthy; Cathal Malone, Tony Kelly, Shane O’Donnell; Robyn Mounsey, Peter Duggan, Ryan Taylor.
Subs: Shane Meehan for McCarthy (h-t), David Reidy for Mounsey (47), Aron Shanagher for Duggan (73).
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)
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