THE Limerick hurlers bowed out of the All Ireland SHC this Saturday evening with a 0-19 to 0-15 loss to Clare in Ennis.
Just like last season it means an exit before the quarter final stage of the competition.
A blistering 20-minute spell in teh first half was the foundation for the Clare win.
Clare bossed this game for long periods but Limerick did battle back in the second half but couldn’t find a necessary goal to ask serious questions of The Banner.
Clare were backed by the breeze in the first half and were to lead 0-11 to 0-5 at half time.
Limerick were 0-5 to 0-2 ahead after 17-minutes before Clare took over.
TJ Ryan’s Limerick had settled quickly showing great gusto and Kevin Downes and Darragh O’Donovan were on the mark as well as three placed balls from Shane Dowling.
The only two scores from play for Limerick in the half came in the first seven minutes and from there to the end there were five wides but the Clare defence were comfortable.
Shane Dowling went close to goal in the 16th minute but Brendan Bugler cleared off the line and from here it was all Clare.
Once Davy Fitzgerald’s side matched the early Limerick intensity and found their rhythm, they were to score nine successive points to move six points clear at half time. And, on top of that they had nine first half wides.
Podge Collins had three of the nine successive Clare scores, while Shane O’Donnell had two.
Gearoid Hegarty and Tom Morrissey were introduced at the break and Hegarty pointed within 50-seconds. Dowling added a free and the lead was down to four but Clare hit back with three points of their own.
Bit by bit Limerick found their feet and two points from Diarmaid Byrnes either side of one from James Ryan and the scoreboard read 0-15 to 0-10 with 52mins played and Limerick were somehow just about hanging on.
When Byrnes went on to add his third, just four points divided the teams with just over 10-minutes to play.
Paul Browne pointed and when Kelly and Dowling swapped pointed frees, just a goal was between the teams.
Two minutes from time there was a penalty to Clare but Kelly opted to take a point to ease the pressure on their lead.
James Ryan did have an injury time point but Limerick never really threatened for a goal and anyway Kelly cancelled out that score in the third added minute.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Tom Condon, Richie McCarthy, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Gavin O’Mahony, Paudie O’Brien; Paul Browne, Darragh O’Donovan, Declan Hannon, James Ryan, Cian Lynch; Kevin Downes, Shane Dowling, Graeme Mulcahy. Subs: Tom Morrissey for Darragh O’Donovan (h-t), Gearoid Hegarty for Declan Hannon (h-t), Seamus Hickey for Paudie O’Brien (41mins), Barry Nash for Graeme Mulcahy (55mins), Alan Dempsey for Richie English (59mins).
CLARE: Andrew Fahy; Oisín O'Brien, Pat O'Connor, Cian Dillon; Jack Browne, Conor Cleary, Brendan Bugler; David McInerney, David Reidy; Colm Galvin, Podge Collins, Tony Kelly; John Conlon, Shane O'Donnell, Aron Shanagher. Subs: Alan Cunningham for John Conlon (46mins), David Fitzgerald for Brendan Bulger (65mins).
REFEREE: James Owens (Wexford).