HL1 quarter-final: Treaty pip Banner in sudden-death shoot-out

March 19, 2018

Limerick's Sean Finn tackles Cathal Malone of Clare.
©INPHO/Oisin Keniry.

Limerick sealed their passage to the league semi-finals when beating Clare 7-6 in a free-taking competition at the end of a 100-minute Gaelic Grounds thriller.

Never before has a quarter-final been as close or as dramatic as this one but it's the upwardly-mobile Treaty men who will square up to either Tipperary or Dublin in the last four on a date yet to be determined. It finished 4-21 to 0-33 after two periods of extra time as the teams simply could not be separated in a truly marathon joust.

Almost three hours after the game threw in, Colin Ryan whacked over the winning strike in sudden death at the end of a free-taking competition in which the winners slotted seven out of seven.

The tension in Limerick was surreal as these two wonderful teams shaped up to the novel free-taking shoot-out under lights late into the evening. Five players from each side would take a free apiece from anywhere along the 65-metre line.

Clare went first and the unerring Duggan converted before Gillane replied with a steady strike; Niall Deasy and Ryan were also successful; Clare's David Reidy and Diarmuid Byrnes both hit the target; Ian Galvin nailed Clare's fourth followed by a score from Limerick's David Reidy; Jamie Shanahan made it five from five for Clare and the pressure on Tom Morrissey as he stepped up was immense but he swept over his strike to set up sudden death.

Man of the Match Duggan again made no mistake and it was soon six out of six for the Treaty as Gillane converted. When Deasy's shot drifted wide, it presented Ryan with the chance to win it for the hosts and he split the posts nonchalantly to seal his side's place in the last four.

The free-taking shoot-out was forced when the sides were deadlocked after 70 regulation minutes followed by two ten-minute periods of extra time and two further five-minute periods of extra time. Inside those 100 minutes and a further ten or more of injury time, Clare knocked over 33 points while Limerick struck four goals to go with their 21 points.

Clare led by three points going into injury time at the end of extra time. One additional minute had been announced but the game went into a second and, incredibly, Byrnes drilled a free to the Banner net to make it 4-18 to 0-30 and two more five-minute periods of extra time would be needed.

The lights came on for the last ten minutes, which started at almost 18:30, the game having commenced at 4pm, and Shane O'Donnell fired the visitors ahead within seconds of the fourth restart but Gillane - supplier of two goals in normal time - replied from a free. From the halfway line, Duggan dropped over his 19th point of the day but there was no separating the teams as Byrnes replied from a free and they remained level after 95 minutes.

Into the fourth period of extra time, with players cramping up around the pitch (it's hard to pace yourself when you empty the tank for 70 minutes and are then asked to play for 30 more!), and a free shoot-out was now looking inevitable to settle this epic contest…

John Conlon edged Clare ahead in the 98th minute and, with time up, Cian Lynch won a free, which Gillane swiped over from 30 metres to draw the teams level for the umpteenth time

The drama was unbearable and the tension palpable as substitute Pat Ryan seemed to have won it for the Treaty when banging in their third goal in the 62nd minute only for Clare to edge back in front through four unanswered Duggan points - bringing his tally to 0-16. Then match-winner Ryan forced two extra periods of ten minutes when floating over a sideline cut: 3-16 to 0-25 after 70 pulsating minutes.

Backed by a hefty wind, Clare started superbly and rifled over eleven of the first thirteen points to lead by nine, but - sprung to life by Gillane's clever goal - John Kiely's charges came to life in the last twelve minutes of the opening period to turn around just three points adrift, 0-14 to 1-8.

Conor McGrath, Tony Kelly and Colm Galvin struck first for the visitors before Lynch finally opened the Treaty account in the fifth minute. Morrissey landed Limerick's second after Duggan's free from 65 metres flew between the posts at the Ennis Road end but former Hurler of the Year Kelly found space to make it 0-5 to 0-2 and Reidy found the range to leave four between the teams with ten minutes played.

A trio of Duggan frees sailed high and handsome as the Banner kicked on and the Clooneyquin clubman's '65' - followed by a tremendous David Fitzgerald finish - had the winners ahead by eleven points to two.

With no room to swing his hurl, Gillane improvised and booted the sliothar to the net against the run of play in the 23rd minute to hand the home team a sudden lifeline; Gillane's converted free moments later had the gap back to a manageable five points, 0-11 to 1-3.

Kelly cancelled out the next Gillane free but Paul Browne whipped over a delightful Limerick score as they clawed back within four. Gearoid Hegarty brilliantly replied to a Duggan free after O'Donnell was felled; Gillane tagged on a free and there were just three between the sides with three minutes left before the break.

David McInerney's hook denied Hegarty a second Treaty goal after Duggan increased Clare's tally from another free and there was time for Gillane to hammer over a late, injury-time free before the half-time whistle sounded with three between the teams.

Gillane posted two more frees either side of a Kelly point upon the resumption; Clare had the ball in the net but a free-out was awarded rather than a goal. Hegarty drove forward with intent and won a free-in, Conor Cleary's challenge sparking some handbags which resulted in yellow cards for Kelly and Lynch. Gillane converted the free from 45 metres to make it a one-point match again after 47 minutes, 0-15 to 1-11.

Kelly brilliantly conjured his fifth point and Duggan converted a wonderful free into the teeth of the wind before substitute Colin Ryan chipped in with a brace only for Reidy to restore Clare's two-point cushion, 0-18 to 1-13.

With the match hanging in the balance, up stepped Gillane to blast home his second goal and hand the hosts the lead for the first time at the start of the fourth quarter - 2-13 to 0-18.

Seamus Flanagan restored Limerick's lead after another long-range Duggan free defied physics and flew over. But Duggan was in the mood and he hammered another one over - his tenth of the day - on the hour, this one from inside his own '65. The magnificent Duggan followed up with a stunning point from play as the Banner reclaimed the lead but Hegarty replied with a super strike as the sides were level again.

Then came a huge moment, with 62 minutes on the clock: as Patrick O'Connor lost his balance, Pat Ryan won a high ball and the substitute blasted a low shot to the net for the winners' third three-pointer: 3-15 to 0-21.

Duggan pulled back a free on 31 minutes and notched his 13th point two minutes later - this one from play - before sticking over a free with a minute of normal time left … level again!

Duggan's fourth successive point arrived from a free in the first of three minutes of stoppage time after substitute Podge Collins was taken down. The scenes in the Gaelic Grounds were unbelievable as Colin Ryan equalised by chipping over a 72nd-minute sideline cut, a score which sent this astonishing game into extra time.

After a lengthy delay to allow the players and match officials to get their breaths back, the action resumed and Gillane flashed over a free, the hosts still playing with wind advantage. Duggan replied in kind and Gillane found the range from a 70-metre free before Kelly registered his sixth from play followed by Conlon's first as the Banner stole back in front, 0-28 to 3-18 at half time in extra time.

Duggan's free doubled the difference in the 83rd minute and the metronomic Banner full forward slotted his 18th point of the game midway through the second period of extra time. Nicky Quaid denied Conlon a match-clinching goal at the death and Gillane then went for goal from a last-gasp 30-metre free, which was diverted out for a '65'.

Amid the most dramatic finale possible, the Treaty came looking for an equalising goal and Clare just about cleared their lines a number of times before Limerick were awarded a close-range free. Byrnes shaped up the free in the second of one added minute and hit the net to force another ten minutes of extra time.

There were many more twists and turns before Ryan popped over a dramatic winner late into the night.

Limerick - N Quaid; S Finn, S Hickey, R English; D Byrnes (1-1f), D Hannon, D Morrissey; P Browne (0-1), C Lynch (0-1); G Hegarty (0-2), K Hayes, T Morrissey (0-1); A Gillane (2-11, 0-11f), S Flanagan (0-1), B Murphy. Subs: C Ryan (0-3, 1sl) for P Browne, P Ryan (1-0) for B Murphy, D Reidy for K Hayes, R McCarthy for S Hickey, B O'Connell for G Hegarty, O O'Reilly for S Flanagan. Free-taking shoot-out scorers: A Gillane, C Ryan 0-2 each, D Byrnes, D Reidy, T Morrissey 0-1 each.

Clare - D Tuohy; P O'Connor, C Cleary, J Browne; S Morey, D McInerney, D Fitzgerald (0-1); C Galvin (0-1), T Kelly (0-6); C Malone, J Conlon (0-2), D Reidy (0-2); C McGrath (0-1), P Duggan (0-19, 15f, 2'65), S O'Donnell (0-1). Subs: I Galvin for C Galvin, C McInerney for C McGrath, J Shanahan for S Morey, J McCarthy for D Reidy, P Collins for C Malone, M O'Neill for C McInerney, R Taylor for I Galvin, M O'Malley for T Kelly, N Deasy for P Collins. Free-taking shoot-out scorers: P Duggan 0-2, N Deasy, D Reidy, I Galvin, J Shanahan 0-1 each.

Referee - A Kelly.

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