SHC quarter-final: Limerick accelerate past Clare

July 29, 2007

Limerick's Andrew O'Shaughnessy surges towards the Clare goals at Croke Park.
Andrew O'Shaughnessy (0-11) was on fire as Limerick recorded a superb 1-23 to 1-16 All-Ireland SHC quarter-final defeat of neighbours Clare at Croke Park. The winners were on top throughout and showed good character to pull clear after Clare momentarily threatened a comeback with ten minutes remaining. Limerick were the dominant force in the first half but Clare must have been delighted to turn around only four points adrift, 0-11 to 0-7. Andrew O'Shaughnessy gave Richie Bennis' side a great start with a lovely brace of points before Clare's Declan O'Rourke swapped points with Mike Fitzgerald, leaving the Treaty County 0-3 to 0-1 ahead after six minutes. O'Shaughnessy was causing havoc and he tapped over an eighth-minute free after he had his jersey tugged as he ran at the posts. Jonathan Clancy replied for the Banner after a wonderful catch and finish from distance and Diarmuid McMahon closed the gap further after he had missed a relatively straightforward goal chance. It was 0-5 to 0-3 when O'Shaughnessy clipped over a 20th-minute free following a foul on Fitzgerald and great defending by Brian McConnell repelled the next Limerick attack. The Clare defence had no answer to O'Shaughnessy, however, and there were four between them when the No.13 clipped over after 24 minutes. It was 0-8 to 0-3 as another O'Shaughnessy free dissected the posts in the 28th minute but Fitzgerald's attempt to stretch the gap further flew wide of the right post at the Hill 16 end of Croker. No such profligacy from All Star contender Ollie Moran, who made it treble scores on the half hour. Struggling Clare were making basic errors and Tony Considine was visibly perturbed as they were penalised for the third time for picking the ball off the ground. Fitzgerald shortened his grip cleverly and avoided the hook to fire over his side's tenth score, but Colin Lynch - now active on the 40 - and Clancy grabbed two Clare points inside a minute to narrow the seven-point gap to just five. A seventh O'Shaughnessy point was followed by a first-ever championship point from Clare centre back Brendan Bugler. Niall Gilligan registered his first point of the match from an injury-time free from 50 yards dead in front of the posts and Limerick would have had a goal if Brian Begley had connected with Donal O'Grady's long delivery into the goalmouth. But the full forward missed the sliothar by inches and the half-time whistle sounded with four points between the Munster neighbours. O'Rourke latched onto Bugler's footpass to close the gap in the first minute of the second half but substitute Donie Ryan - a first half replacement for Niall Moran - slammed an unstoppable low drive to the net to give Limerick a 1-11 to 0-8 advantage after 37 minutes. The build-up had been sloppy and Clare were somewhat unfortunate that the ball went through to Ryan, but the finish from the Garryspillane man was emphatic. Ryan followed up with an instant point and Kevin Tobin added another Limerick minor after Lynch bravely grabbed his second for Clare. Daylight had really appeared between the teams when O'Grady pointed five minutes into the second period: 1-14 to 0-9. As witnessed in the defeat to Cork, Clare's extremely loose marking was offering Limerick all the time and space in the world. Gilligan (two frees) brought the gap back to six with a brace of points and the Banner had a lucky escape when Begley's flick came back off the butt of the post. Bugler seized the opportunity to bring it back to five points with a fantastic long-range point but the economical Fitzgerald steadied Limerick with a 49th minute point. Both goalkeepers - Brian Murray and Philip Brennan - were called into action to make saves as the match caught fire with 20 minutes left. Fitzgerald then gave Frank Lohan the slip to claim his fourth point. Gilligan's goalbound fiercely-driven free was deflected over the bar by the hurl of Limerick captain Damien Reale and Ryan replied at the other end. But the game was back on when McMahon made to mistake to hit the Limerick net with a close-range shot at the start of the final quarter. A wonderful goal at the end of a powerful run. Suddenly, Clare were within four points again: 1-17 to 1-13. Gilligan was content to take his point from the next close-in free and O'Shaughnessy missed a simple chance - those two cameos spoke volumes of the mindsets of both camps as the match went into its final ten minutes with Limerick still holding a three-point lead. But the winners kept their cool from here to the final whistle. After the team in green had pointed again through sub James O'Brien, O'Shaughnessy had a brace, bringing his tally to nine, either side of an O'Rourke reply, as Limerick made a break for the winning line. O'Shaughnessy's 67th-minute free made it 1-21 to 1-15. Clancy and substitute Brian Foley traded points and there was time for the outstanding O'Shaughnessy to bring his personal haul to eleven - five from play - before the final whistle confirmed Limerick's passage to the semi-finals. Limerick - B Murray; D Reale, S Lucey, S Hickey; M O'Riordan, B Geary, M Foley; D O'Grady (0-1), M O'Brien; M Fitzgerald (0-4), O Moran (0-1), N Moran; A O'Shaughnessy (0-11), B Begley, K Tobin (0-2). Subs - D Ryan (1-2) for N Moran, B Foley (0-1) for M Fitzgerald, J O'Brien (0-1) for K Tobin, P Lawlor for M O'Brien. Clare - P Brennan; G O'Grady, F Lohan, K Dilleen; G Quinn, B Bulger (0-2), A Markham; B O'Connell, C Lynch (0-2); D O'Rourke (0-3), D McMahon (1-1), J Clancy (0-3); N Gilligan (0-5), B Nugent, B Gaffney. Subs - D O'Connell for B Gaffney, F Lynch for B Nugent. Referee - M Wadding (Waterford).


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