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WATCH: Limerick U-21 hurlers have 14 points to spare over Clare in Munster Championship

WATCH: Limerick U-21 hurlers have 14 points to spare over Clare in Munster Championship

Limerick defender John Flynn advances past the Clare challenge

LIMERICK opened the defence of their Munster and All Ireland U-21 hurling championship titles with a 14-point win over Clare.

In Cusack Park in Ennis, it finished Limerick 3-18 Clare 0-13 in front of an attendance of 3135.

Three second half goals in a 10-minute spell eased Limerick over the winning line and into a June 21 semi final in Thurles against Tipperary.

After dominating the first half Limerick were just 0-10 to 0-8 ahead at half time.

While Limerick hit just three wides in the 30-minute period, a number of goal scoring chances were not taken.

Limerick were six clear after 24-minutes but Clare scored the final four points of the half.

Conor Boylan opened the scoring after 26-seconds and it was the first of the Limerick goal chances but it flew over the bar.

When TG4 Man of the Match Brian Ryan had the first of his four points from play in the half, Limerick were three points ahead and Clare yet to score.

Seamus Flanagan then created another goal scoring chance for Boylan but it was blocked. Nonetheless Ryan, Darren O’Connell and Flanagan added points to move Limerick 0-6 to 0-1 ahead after 13-minutes.

Paddy O’Loughlin and Ryan had the next Limerick scores but Clare had now found the range and the scoreboard read 0-8 to 0-3 at the 20th minute mark.

A Darren O’Connell shot for goal was saved but when Barry Murphy became the fifth member of the attack to score from play it was 0-10 to 0-4 and half time was fast approaching.

But Clare, who had five wides in the half, finished on top with four successive points – one from former Ardscoil Ris Harty Cup winner Padraic O’Loughlin.

The early stages of the second half were dominated by frees between Barry Murphy and Aidan McCarthy but points from Ryan and Flanagan had Limerick 0-14 to 0-10 ahead after 10-minutes.

The Clare cause wasn't helped by a red card for corner back Conor O'Halloran for a challenge on goal bound Darren O'Connell after just two minutes of the restart.

Then came the first Limerick goal – Flanagan finishing after Murphy created the opening. Limerick 1-14 Clare 0-11 with 44-minutes played.

Clare hit back with two points but in the 51st minute Conor Boylan’s low drive brought the second Limerick goal and moved Pat Donnelly’s side 2-15 to 0-13 ahead.

Clare didn’t score in the final 10-minutes with Limerick hitting six scores.

Six minutes from time came the third goal – Mark O’Dwyer firing to the net with his first touch.

SCORERS: Limerick: Brian Ryan 0-6, Conor Boylan and Seamus Flanagan 1-2 each, Barry Murphy 0-5 (4frees), Mark O’Dwyer 1-1, Darren O’Connell and Paddy O’Loughlin 0-1 each. Clare: Aidan McCarthy 0-6 (6frees), Gary Cooney and Padraic O’Loughlin 0-2 each, Michael Corry, Steven Conway and Sean O’Loughlin 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: Jamie Power (Monaleen); Brian McPartland (Doon), Josh Adams (Ballybrown), John Flynn (Patrickswell); Daniel Minehan (Ahane), Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), Thomas Grimes (Na Piarsaigh); Paddy O’Loughlin (Kilmallock), Mike Mackey (Adare); Brian Ryan (South Liberties), Barry Murphy (Doon), Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh); Darren O’Connell (Kildimo-Pallaskenry) Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh), Oisin O’Reilly (Kilmallock). Subs: Paudie Ahern (Killeedy) for Darren O’Connell (44mins), Willie O’Meara (Askeaton) for Daniel Minehan (49mins), Mark O’Dwyer (Monaleen) for Oisin O’Reilly (53mins), Micheal Houlihan (Kilmallock) for Brian Ryan (56mins), Brian Timmons (Murroe-Boher) for Brian McPartland (57mins).

CLARE: Killian Nugent (O’Callaghan Mills); Conor O'Halloran (Eire Og, Ennis), Ross Hayes (Crusheen), Bradley Higgins (Kilmaley); Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), Jason McCarthy (Inagh Kilnamona), Pauric McNamara (Kilmaley); Michael Corry (Clooney Quin), Kieran Galvin (Clonlara); Aidan McCarthy (Kilmaley), Gary Cooney (O’Callaghan Mills), Steven Conway (Feakle); Joe Carmody (Kilmaley), Colin Guilfoyle (Newmarket on Fergus), Billy Connors (Cratloe). Subs: Padraic O’Loughlin (Clonlara) for Joe Carmody (20mins), Sean O’Loughlin (Kilmaley) for Steven Conway (28mins), Liam O’Connor (Newmarket on Fergus) for Michael Corry (h-t), Cathal Darcy (Kilmaley) for Kieran Galvin (38mins), Michael O'Shea (Smith O’Briens) for Billy Connors (50mins).

REFEREE: Philip Kelly (Tipperary).

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