Hurling & Camogie

Limerick finish fastest to lower Banner in provincial opener

Waterford defeated Cork in the other round-one game in Munster

Aaron Gillane
Aaron Gillane celebrates scoring Limerick’s third goal during their Munster SHC win over Clare in Ennis (Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

Munster SHC round one

Clare 1-18 Limerick 3-15

Waterford 2-25 Cork 1-25

A STUNNING Limerick comeback got their Munster Championship defence off to a winning start, coming from nine points behind with a 3-6 blast in the final quarter to sink Clare in Ennis.

The League champions looked like doing some damage to the Treaty’s points difference when 1-15 to 0-9 clear with 20 minutes to play.

From there, Limerick took over with goals from Diarmaid Byrnes, Donnacha Ó Dálaigh, and Aaron Gillane to earn a first championship victory at Cusack Park since 1990.

The Banner were led by Aidan McCarthy who scored 1-10 (0-8 frees) across the 70 minutes. His frees kept them ticking over early on as Limerick suffered the loss of Mike Casey to injury, replaced by Sean Finn.

Neither side capitalised on their goal opportunities until McCarthy’s 29th-minute close-range bullet after being set up by Shane O’Donnell.

They led 1-10 to 0-8 at half-time with all but two of their points coming from the Inagh-Kilnamona free-taker. Gearoid Hegarty struck three points for Limerick in response.

Clare added five of the opening six points after the break but Limerick slowly warmed to their task in front of a sold-out 20,055 crowd.

A dipping Byrnes free evaded Eibhear Quilligan as Gillane caused trouble for the keeper. Substitute Ó Dálaigh fired them ahead when found by Hegarty to make it 2-14 to 1-16.

Within a minute, Hegarty’s shot was touched over the line by Gillane to give Limerick an unlikely cushion they saw out until the end.

In front of a capacity 11,973 attendance at Walsh Park, Waterford got up and running with a rousing victory over Cork.

The points weren’t secure until the end but the hosts were never led from Jamie Barron’s second-minute goal.

Stephen Bennett’s 58th-minute penalty, which saw Ciaran Joyce black-carded, gave them a boost and Cork were down to 13 for a spell when Damien Cahalane was sent off for a second yellow.

Alan Connolly’s late goal brought the Rebels back into contention but down three and with little more than 30 seconds left, their sideline signalled for the Blackrock man to point a late free. They wouldn’t get a chance for a goal as Patrick Curran slotted the clincher.

For these two teams who missed out on qualification last year, Waterford have the oxygen of a winning start while Cork face into a home clash with Clare which has a strong sense of do-or-die.

Waterford entered with precious little game-time in the legs of Conor Prunty, Iarlaith Daly, Tadhg de Búrca, and Bennett but when it mattered, they kept going until the very end. Dessie Hutchinson was a surprise choice of free-taker but after missing a routine opener, he nailed nine from nine.

Coming off a four-game losing streak, they had the greater need for a fast start. They got it in the second minute when Shaun O’Brien’s puck-out ran on for Barron, stationed at wing-forward, to race away and blast to the net.

With Darragh Fitzgibbon and Shane Barrett keeping them in it, Cork trailed 1-11 to 0-10 at half-time.

They briefly levelled but Waterford kicked on. When Jack Prendergast was brought crashing down outside the box, Michael Kennedy signalled for a penalty and gave Joyce a black card. Bennett wrongfooted Collins to put them five clear.

Cork’s plight went from bad to worse with a second yellow card for Cahalane in the 62nd minute. Pat Ryan was forced to react by sacrificing Patrick Horgan for defender Eoin Downey.

Their fans heading for the exits were given some pause for thought when Connolly billowed the net but a pair of Curran points sealed it for Waterford.