Allianz FL D2: Clare finish on a high against Limerick
Allianz Football League Division 2
CLARE 2-18 LIMERICK 0-9
By Eoin Brennan at Cusack Park, Ennis
Academic in terms of National League relevance but merely a pre-championship jolt of confidence, Clare welcomingly eased to the Shannonside derby spoils in Cusack Park Ennis.
Initially earmarked as a potentially crucial final round tie, the fact that both Munster rivals were relegated to Division 3 before a ball was kicked on Sunday did diminish the neighbourly intensity but this was still a much-needed opportunity to lift the spirits.
A new-look Clare, despite only possessing a third of the team that lined out against Limerick in last year’s Munster Championship, were clearly the dominant force throughout. Leading from start to finish, the Banner used the conditions to score six of the first seven points, two from Keelan Sexton, to carve out a 0-6 to 0-1 lead by the 14th minute.
They may have also added a brace of goals but an early Aaron Griffin shot was repelled by Limerick captain Donal O’Sullivan while chief home target-man Sexton opted for a point when put through by Griffin nearing the end of the opening quarter.
By half-time, Sexton had extended his personal tally to five as Clare soared to an 0-11 to 0-3 interval cushion. The only way was up for Limerick and to their credit, there was a backlash on the resumption as James Naughton kicked the first three points to lessen the damage to five.
However, any glimmer of hope for the visitors evaporated near the end of the third quarter when first Adrian Enright was dismissed for an off-the-ball incident while less than a minute later Daniel Walsh fed Mark McInerney to score the opening goal of the game at 1-11 to 0-6.
From there to the finish, it was simply a matter of how big the final margin would be as Emmet McMahon (3) and Aaron Griffin (2) added to their impressive hauls before Ciaran Downes fired Clare’s second goal on the hour mark to ensure a 15 point victory.
With Clare set to host Cork at the same venue in the Munster Senior Championship Quarter-Final in a fortnight’s time, a pointless league campaign for Limerick means that they will require a vast improvement when subsequently meeting the winners at the penultimate stage.
Scorers for Clare: Keelan Sexton (2f), Emmet McMahon (1f) (0-5 each); Mark McInerney (1-2, 2f); Aaron Griffin (0-3); Ciaran Downes (1-0); Daniel Walsh, Podge Collins, Shane Griffin (0-1 each)
Scorers for Limerick: James Naughton (0-5, 2f); Peter Nash (0-2); Killian Ryan, Cian Sheehan (0-1 each)
CLARE: Stephen Ryan; Micheál Garry, Ciaran Russell, Cillian Rouine; Ikem Ugwueru, Jamie Malone, Daniel Walsh; Emmet McMahon, Darragh Bohannon; Brendy Rouine, Podge Collins, Ciaran Downes; Mark McInerney, Keelan Sexton, Aaron Griffin. Subs: Pearse Lillis for B. Rouine (46), Shane Griffin for Sexton (52), Darren Nagle for Russell (62), Dan Keating for Bohannon (62)
LIMERICK: Donal O’Sullivan; Jim Liston, Sean O’Dea, Brian Fanning; Gordon Brown, Barry Coleman, Cian Sheehan; Cillian Fahy, Colm McSweeney; Adrian Enright, Killian Ryan, Paul Maher; Peter Nash, James Naughton, Davy Lyons. Subs: Brian Donovan for Ryan (HT), Aaron O’Sullivan for D. O’Sullivan (HT), Tony McCarthy for Brown (53), Dara Noonan for Lyons (53), Cormac Woulfe for Fanning (57).
Referee: Barry Judge (Sligo)