Clare hammer woeful Limerick

June 18, 2006
Clare cruised to a comprehensive 2-21 to 0-10 senior hurling qualifier (Group B) victory over lacklustre, lethargic and spiritless Limerick at Cusack Park in Ennis. There was only one team in this match and Clare were full value for the 17-point margin of victory. The Banner men are practically through to an All-Ireland quarter-final at this stage, while Limerick look like their year is over. Limerick were all over the place in the first half and managed only three points during that period - and no score from open play. Dominant Clare, on the other hand, had first-half goals from Tony Griffin and Declan O'Rourke as they sailed into a comfortable ten-point interval lead. Both sides seemed to be up for this as the opening exchanges were robust, but the quality of hurling wasn't up to scratch and Niall Gilligan's classy point was the only score of the first twelve minutes. Tony Griffin easily turned inside his man to blast a 13th-minute goal and Alan Markham added a point before Griffin brought his individual tally to 1-1. After 15 minutes, Clare led by 1-3 to no score. Barry Foley's free in the 17th minute raised Limerick's first white flag and an uncharacteristic mix-up between veteran defenders Brian Lohan and Seanie McMahon presented the Shannonsiders with a 65, which Foley typically sent wide. Foley pointed a free from the middle of the pitch after Colin Lynch was harshly penalised and disjointed Limerick introduced Mark Keane for a furious Brian Geary ten minutes from half time. Geary had been started out of position on the 40 and never really got a chance to make any sort of impression so far removed from his customary No.6 berth. Home boy Jonathan Clancy added to Clare's tally but Declan O'Rourke was off target with his first attempt. O'Rourke kept his head up, however, and benefited from an excellent Markham pass to fire low to the Limerick net in the 30th minute. Lynch also played a key role in the major with a great long delivery. When O'Rourke added a point, Clare led by nine points, 2-5 to 0-2, with all seven of those Banner County scores coming from play. Keane tapped over a Limerick free but Gilligan did likewise at the other end. Griffin pounced on the loose ball in the Limerick defence to fire a snapshot over the bar and Keane hit the post with an easy free before the half-time whistle sounded with Clare in the ascendancy, 2-7 to 0-3. Limerick's tactics had been dubious to say the least in the first half and, bizarrely, manager Joe McKenna replaced goalkeeper Brian Murray with Timmy Houlihan at half time. They had an early wide before Keane narrowed the margin with a couple of frees. Gilligan casually clipped over the Banner's eighth point and Foley's 46th-minute free was cancelled out immediately by dual player Brian O'Connell. Gilligan added his fourth point to restore the ten-point differential. Clare now assumed absolute control. Declan O'Rourke brought his return to 1-2 with a 49th-minute point and Clancy put twelve between them with yet another point for Anthony Daly's rampant side. Limerick, meantime, amassed 16 wides in just over 50 minutes' play. Keane was Limerick's next culprit and substitute Derek Quinn nonchalantly knocked over a long-range free for the Clare men. It was turning into a rout as Griffin got his third point and the Banner led by 14 points with a quarter of the match remaining. Griffin and Clancy added to the landslide with massive points and substitute Barry Nugent made it 2-17 to 0-6. The omnipresent Griffin could do no wrong and, amazingly, his next point made it quadruple scores. Fergal Lynch became the ninth Clare player to score when Houlihan tapped his low drive over the bar for a point and Keane went for goal with a late free only to be denied. Foley pointed a 65 and Clare goalie Davy Fitzgerald could be seen goading the crestfallen opposition. Scuffles were breaking out off the ball as a disappointing match became ill-tempered. Sub Willie Walsh got Limerick's first score from play in the 66th minute. O'Rourke grabbed another Clare point to bring his tally to 1-3 and Nugent got his second point from an impossible angle out on the left touchline. Limerick managed a couple of late points either side of those scores from O'Rourke and Nugent, but this is a day they'll forget gladly. Clare scorers: Tony Griffin (1-5), Declan O'Rourke (1-3), Niall Gilligan (0-4), Jonathan Clancy (0-3), Barry Nugent (0-2), Alan Markham (0-1), Brian O'Connell (0-1), Derek Quinn (0-1), Fergal Lynch (0-1)

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