Limerick lay down a marker in Thurles despite Tony Kelly's brilliance for Clare

Limerick lay down a marker in Thurles despite Tony Kelly's brilliance for Clare

Clare’s Tony Kelly celebrates a score against Limerick. The Ballyea club man was sensational but his heroics weren't enough as the Treaty managed a stunning 0-36. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

AS expected, Limerick progressed to the Munster semi-final against Tipperary, after a decent test from Clare.

The Banner, under new manager Brian Lohan, entered the championship shorn of Podge Collins, Peter Duggan, Colm Galvin, John Conlon and Conor McGrath for a variety of reasons, still had Tony Kelly at his bewitching best. 

Wearing number nine but deployed across the forwards on a roving commission, Kelly hit 0-17, eight from play. He found pockets of space repeatedly and snapped over shots from all angles.

Ryan Taylor got a goal early in the second half to keep Clare in contention after Limerick had blasted out of the traps following an entertaining first half that ended 0-15 apiece. Yet there was never a sense that John Kiely's charges would be beaten.

It was 0-36 to 1-23 when the final whistle sounded, with Limerick shooting superbly from the middle third with the wind to their backs. Gearóid Hegarty and Tom Morrissey combined for 0-9 from play from the wing-forward berths, with Hegarty also assisting a Peter Casey score with a cheeky reverse hand-pass on the move. 

Gearóid Hegarty of Limerick in action against David Fitzgerald of Clare. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Gearóid Hegarty of Limerick in action against David Fitzgerald of Clare. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Diarmuid Byrnes lanced over three from play, Kyle Hayes and Will O'Donoghue were busy, and if Limerick rarely threatened to raise a green flag they didn't need to.

Seamus Flanagan and Darragh O'Donovan, starters when they won the All-Ireland in 2018, were among the subs to eagerly enter the fray. Their depth is incredible, despite injuries to Richie English and Mike Casey, which has left their full-back line potentially vulnerable, and the retirement of Shane Dowling.

Even if Tipp will be a serious step-up next Sunday, they look the team to beat between here and December. Getting this game under their belts was a real plus.

As a bonus, this doubled up as a league final, making it two leagues, a Munster and an All-Ireland for Limerick since 2018. Cork face Waterford next Saturday, with Tipp-Limerick the following afternoon.

Aaron Gillane scores a free. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Aaron Gillane scores a free. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

On Saturday night, Dublin gained a modicum of revenge over Laois for their 2019 championship exit with a 2-31 to 0-23 trouncing of Eddie Brennan's side. 

Dublin forward Donal Burke, who has a Cork connection in Castlemartyr, was on fire, hitting 1-16.

The Dubs face Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final next weekend, with Galway-Wexford completing the bill.

Dublin's Donal Burke. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Dublin's Donal Burke. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Laois and Clare go into the backdoor, where they'll be joined by the beaten provincial semi-finalists. The two teams that negotiate the qualifiers will then face the Munster and Leinster losers in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

The football league concluded over the weekend, though Cork, already confirmed as champions of Division 3 were granted a walkover from Longford. 

That denied Ronan McCarthy and his selectors the chance for another, somewhat, competitive outing before hosting Kerry on November 8.

The Kingdom have looked a powerful force in their couple of games lately, easing past an understrength Donegal to land the Division 1 title.

David Clifford of Kerry in action against Brendan McCole of Donegal. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
David Clifford of Kerry in action against Brendan McCole of Donegal. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Cork will be joined in Division 2 in 2020 by Down, with Fermanagh and Cavan, who suffered a late collapse against Laois, dropping down. The Rebels will have a couple of attractive matches with Mayo and Meath next season, after their relegation, with Roscommon and Armagh going up to the top tier.

Champions: 

Division 1: Kerry; Division 2: Roscommon; Division 3: Cork; Division 4: Limerick

Runners-up and promoted: 

Division 2: Armagh; Division 3: Down; Division 4: Wicklow. 

Relegated: 

Division 1: Mayo and Meath; Division 2: Cavan and Fermanagh; Division 3: Leitrim and Louth.

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