Skill triumphs in victory for Clare’s underlying class
Davy Fitzgerald’s team made hurling look an easy game
Going back to the point about free-taking, in contrast to Hannon, Colin Ryan turned in a masterclass of this art.
Clare played their game and never allowed Limerick to play and it was a done deal long before the full-time whistle. From the start, they had the measure of Limerick. Maybe all the hype that built up in Limerick since their Munster final win worked against them.
They never got going at all. The simple things – like going for the ball with conviction – were missing. One incident in that first half encapsulated their problems: three or four Limerick defenders were in control of the ball but then proceeded to make a series of handpasses before Wayne McNamara went on a solo run, lost the ball and Podge Collins banged it over the bar from 65 metres.
That was just one incident, but there were many others where Limerick players were dispossessed or where they were nervous and the ball fell out of their hands. Their touch was absolutely terrible, and they never got to the pitch of the game.
Both teams played with an extra defender but whereas Clare were calm in possession and looked up and used the ball brilliantly – looking up and hitting it long if they had to hit it long or hitting it short if that was the option – Limerick’s extra defender seemed to get in the way. If they played it long, there was nobody inside. In the second half they were in such trouble they clearly needed goals which never looked like coming their way.
Beforehand, I thought the physicality of Limerick might have worked against Clare. But I was going against my own hurling philosophy in even thinking that really because skilful players should always win out. And these Clare boys have outstanding skill.
In a great hurling year, we’re set for a great final.