Clare controversially denied late free as Limerick hold on for five-in-a-row
Limerick 1-23 Clare 1-22
An Aaron Gillane-inspired Limerick held off a late Clare fight-back to win their fifth Munster championship in a row.
That late fight-back ended with Clare's young corner back Adam Nolanwinning the ball deep into injury-time, before he took it into contact.
William O'Donoghue dived into the melting pot, bringing Hogan down to the ground and, in that moment, time stood still. O'Donoghue's tired tackle certainly bore the resemblance of a free and, there and then, you felt that Liam Gordon was going to it.
The Galway ref blew the whistle alright but he blew it for full-time.
Tony Kelly collapsed to the ground. John Conlon collapsed to the ground. The Clonlara player had just put in an exhibition of centre back play, hurling the world of ball from his half back base, but it wasn't enough. Limerick had done the five-in-a-row.
The new brigade had taken them there, with Cathal O'Neill and Adam English in particular standing up in the finish but to go forward we must go back. Post-match footage from that last attack showed that not only was Hogan hard-done-by, Tony Kelly was too as he was taken clean out of it by Peter Casey.
— Paul O’Kane (@pmokane) June 11, 2023
It will be interesting to hear what Brian Lohan has to say about that after the game. For now, we'll go back to the start.
The big team news involved Conor Cleary and Cian Nolan. Clearly walked into the Gaelic Grounds with a hurl in his hand and a gear-bag slung over his shoulder but if you're in the business of hear-say and early team-news, this was nothing more than a false dawn.
Cleary's shoulder wasn't up to it and Cian Nolan started instead of him.
It was Nolan's first start in the championship - he didn't play a minute in the round-robin - but he was straight into the lions' den. Here, now that we think of it. marking Aaron Gillane in a Munster final is scarier than any lions den.
Nolan acquitted himself well, battling hard to hassle Gillane out of two early balls but the Patrickswell player soon found his feet. And when he did, Cian Nolan, like most mere mortals, couldn't live with him.
Aaron Gillane is the start of this Munster final. Huge moment for Limerick as they move in front.
📺Watch: https://t.co/ZfZ9mA9XTY #sundaygame pic.twitter.com/b8vU4RI8DW
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 11, 2023
Gillane twisted and turned his way to two fine first half scores but Nolan was under pressure and he was fouling
Going into the break, it will surely have entered Brian Lohan's mind that his side should have been further ahead. A three point cushion was too small and too inconsequential for a team that had the chances they had.
True, Mark Rodgers' goal only arrived after a stroke of good fortune, when he reacted quickest to Tony Kelly's ricochet off the post but they should have capitalised further.
Ryan Taylor blazed one easy point opportunity wide in the minutes that followed, Mark Rodgers missed a goal and Diarmuid Ryan sent another wide. Limerick were on the ropes but Clare weren't ruthless enough at that stage.
And that trend continued right up until the end of the game. Tony Kelly shot some uncharacteristic misses while David Fitzgerald and Ryan Taylor also let Limerick off the hook. As the dust settles on this loss, Clare will have to look inward with huge frustration - this wasn't the first time they'd shot a Munster final away.
Then there was the controversy but for now, Limerick are still the kings.
Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash, Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes (0-1), Darragh O’Donovan (0-1), William O Donoghue, David Reidy (0-3), Gearoid Hegarty (0-1), Tom Morrissey (0-3), Aaron Gillane (1-11, 0-8f), Seamus Flanagan, Graeme Mulcahy.
Subs: Peter Casey for Mulcahy (48), Colin Coughlan for Declan Hannon (55), Cathal O'Neill (0-2) for Tom Morrissey (57) Richie English for Mike Casey (57), Adam English (0-1) for Darragh O'Donovan (61-63), English for Flanagan (65)
Eibhear Quilligan; Adam Hogan, Cian Nolan, Paul Flanagan, Diarmuid Ryan (0-1), John Conlon, David McInerney, David Fitzgerald (0-2), Cathal Malone (0-1), Peter Duggan, Tony Kelly (0-6, 0-2f), Aidan McCarthy (0-4, 0-3f), Ryan Taylor (0-1), Shane O’Donnell (0-2), Mark Rodgers (1-1)
Subs: Shane Meehan for McCarthy (46), Aron Shanagher for Duggan (57) Ian Galvin (0-2) for Shane Meehan (65) Paul Flanagan for Rory Hayes (67)