THE Limerick senior footballers opened 2017 with a win this Wednesday evening – defeating Clare in the McGrath Cup 2-13 to 2-9.
The first game for new manager Billy Lee was played under the floodlights of St Patricks GAA grounds in Rhebogue and saw Limerick produce a strong second half to secure a merited win.
Limerick now travel to Lemybrien on Sunday (2.00) to play Waterford in the knowledge that a win or draw will secure a McGrath Cup final spot against Cork or Kerry.
Clare, who beat Waterford last Sunday, had the better of the early minutes and were 0-3 to 0-2 ahead on 15-minutes.
Seamus O’Carroll (‘45) and Danny Neville had the early Limerick scores.
An 18th minute goal from Darragh Treacy had Limerick 1-2 to 0-3 ahead. The goal came directly after Donal O’Sullivan had denied Gearoid O’Brien a Clare goal.
Neville and Daniel Daly had further Limerick points by half time for an interval lead of 1-5 to 0-7.
In the second half, Clare, who will play in Division Two of the Allianz League, went 21-minutes without a score.
Seamus O’Carroll gave Limerick the perfect start to the half with a goal after five minutes.
McSweeney from a free and O’Carroll from play added points and Limerick were 2-7 to 0-7 ahead with 15-minutes to play.
Eoin Cleary finally had Clare off the mark and then a superb Cian O’Dea goal reduced the lead to two points with 12-minutes to play.
O’Carroll and McSweeney kicked frees to move Limerick 2-9 1-8 ahead.
McSweeney, Paul White, Brian Donovan and O’Carroll (free) ended the game with Limerick points.
The second Clare goal came in injury time from Eoin Cleary.
SCORERS; Limerick: Seamus O’Carroll 1-4 (2frees, 1 ‘45), Sean McSweeney 0-4 (3frees), Darragh Treacy 1-0, Danny Neville 0-2, Daniel Daly, Paul White, Brian Donovan 0-1 each. Clare: Keelan Sexton 0-6 (5frees), Eoin Cleary 1-2, Cian O’Dea 1-0, Shane McGrath 1-0.
LIMERICK: Donal O'Sullivan; Daniel Daly Johnny McCarthy, Sean O’Dea; Paul White, Iain Corbett, Paul Hannon; Darragh Treacy, David Ward; Peter Nash, Ger Collins, Danny Neville; Sean McSweeney, Seamus O’Carroll, Jamie Lee. Subs: Padraig Quinn for Daniel Daly (41mins), James Naughton for Jamie Lee (45mins), Brian Fanning for David Ward (48mins), Garrett Noonan for Perter Nash (51mins), Brian Donovan for Danny Neville (55mins), Cillian Fahy for Paul Hannan (66mins).
CLARE: Joe Hayes; Darren Nagle, John Hayes, Martin McMahon; Liam Markham, Gordon Kelly, Cian O’Dea; Gary Brennan and Cathal O’Connor; Shane Brennan, Shane McGrath, Darragh Bolton; Eoin Cleary, Keelan Sexton and Gearóid O’Brien. Subs: Jamie Malone for Darragh Bolton (h-t), Ciaran Russell for Liam Markham (h-t), Seanie Malone for Gearoid O’Brien (51mins), Sean Collins for Shane McGrath (60mins) Eoghan Collins for Darren Nagle (63mins), Ciaran Malone for Shane Brennan (66mins).
REFEREE: Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry).