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Hurling : Clare Revive Spirit Of ’95 To Reach All-Ireland Final

davyfitz

Clare 1-22 Limerick 0-18

Clare deservedly booked an All-Ireland final place alongside Cork after comprehensively disposing of neighbours Limerick on Sunday afternoon.

In truth Limerick never got going as some of their players simply didn’t show up and Clare ruthlessly took advantage.

The game was delayed fifteen minutes due to the minor game which Galway won after extra time.  Right from the throw in Clare looked sharp and switched on much in contrast to Limerick who just couldn’t settle, not helped by the wayward early free-taking of Declan Hannon. Its hard not to feel for Hannon , just a young man at 20, left with the responsibility of placed balls , a responsibility he just couldn’t handle on the day as he missed some vital straight forward frees early on. This not only took the wind out of Limerick but also gave Clare a boost with every wide. Fifteen minutes into the game a long ball delivered into the edge of the square by captain Pat Donnellan caused havoc with full forward Darach Honan eventually prodding the ball home with his foot. This put Clare five points up and from here they never really looked back. Limerick fought back with the loss of Seamus Hickey through injury a blow in the first half to their revival but it was their lack of accuracy in front of goal and waste of possession coming out of defence that ultimately cost them with Clare picking off their opponents with supreme accuracy and efficiency when in possession.

The second half started in much the same vein as the first with Limerick showing more potency in front of goal this time but Clare had an answer for everything they threw at them with both Podge Collins and Tony Kelly scoring vital scores at vital times of the game to keep Limerick at bay. The Limerick bench was emptied and their effort was tireless but much the same as a boxer chasing points in a boxing match they were kept at bay and picked off by the superior Clare players who held strong to the end to win by five points amongst joyous scenes.

Limerick will be disappointed as they were simply beaten by the better team on the day and never really got going as they were always chasing the game. The worry of how they would react to the different surroundings of Croke Park unfortunately for Limerick answered. They never really settled and early changes disrupted their pattern but in truth they were never really at the races. The subs made a minor impact but there was too much to do. Dreams of Liam McCarthy dashed for Limerick but they still have had a very good year , winning Munster for the first time in years, they will no doubt be back again next year. John Allen will take time to consider his future but I’m sure every hurling supporter in Limerick will want the Corkman back.

For deserving winners Clare, Man of the match David McInerney was outstanding in defence typifying the Clare system that when not in possession , hunting down the ball and when in possession , using it to great effect. Donnellan, Bugler and Morey ably assisted him in defence. Clare shaded midfield with Galvin’s energy and Conor Ryan’s work-rate top drawer and in attack they done what they have done all year by working hard and showing movement to disrupt opposition defences but what stands out above all is the fact they only registered five wides , an extraordinary feat in such a ferocious and important game. Standout performers Podge Collins, Tony Kelly and Colin Ryan showed deadly accuracy in their shooting and were key to victory. The attitude of the Clare players has been an example to everyone all year; with not a dirty stroke in their approach they play a high-octane fast stylish game.

Much credit should go to Davy Fitzgerald and his backroom team as even after defeat to Cork earlier in the year they stuck with their systems and players and showed trust in what they wanted to do, and now they are in an All-Ireland final and will feel they have a great chance. Love him or loath him Davy Fitz is a winner who will do whatever it takes to achieve victory. I’m sure there was times in the second half when Clare were perhaps thinking they were nearly there but looked to the passion and effort their manager was still putting in on the line and that will have re-energised them. The players trust him and will do whatever he asks of them. Clare now looks forward to the first Sunday in September where they will contest the All-Ireland final for the first time since 2002 against Munster rivals Cork.

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