It was a thrilling day on Sunday in the Munster Hurling Championship as the fourth round of games delivered two thrilling encounters with late drama in both games.
In Thurles, a late John McGarth point rescued a draw for Tipperary, while a late point from Diarmuid Ryan booked Clare's place in the Munster final.
Tipperary 0-25 Limerick 0-25
It took a last gasp free from substitute John McGrath to force a draw after these two sides went at it during an epic encounter.
In a game where both sides showed their attacking talents, it was Tipperary who had a deserving 0-15 to 0-12 lead after 30 minutes with Gearoid O’Connor hitting 0-6 of those, while corner forwards Jake Morris and Mark Kehoe had 0-3 apiece from play.
Limerick had to respond in the second half and did with their key players stepping up to the task, with four points in succession from Gillane, Cathal O’Neill (2) and Seamus Flanagan sending them in front.
Tipperary responded to level through Gearoid O’Connor and with the introduction of Conor Bowe who bagged three points from play, the Premier County hit back.
Again and again, Limerick responded and every time Tipperary shoved in front, they hit back with drawing scores from the likes of Morrissey, sub Graeme Mulcahy and Mulcahy again deep in injury time.
Tipperary had the final say to tie up what was a remarkable contest with that John McGrath pointed free levelling the game.
Westmeath 4-18 Wexford 2-22
Westmeath caused one of the shocks of the championship as they staged a remarkable 17 point comeback to defeat Wexford.
Substitute Niall Mitchell blasted two late goals for Westmeath to claim a famous win as Wexford, with Kilkenny coming to town next Sunday, are now battling against relegation together with Westmeath and Antrim, with the latter pair facing off next weekend.
Darragh Egan’s Wexford seemed to be coasting towards a crucial victory when leading 2-14 to 0-3 after 32 minutes. However, Westmeath came out firing in the second half as they helped themselves to 1-4 without reply to shave the gap to 2-15 to 1-9 by the 43rd minute.
Westmeath kept beavering away, and Niall O’Brien provided a surge of energy when gathering a long delivery to goal it back to 2-22 to 2-13 in the 62nd minute.
Points from Joseph Boyle, Niall O’Brien and substitute Derek McNicholas – whose injury-time goal snatched a draw for Westmeath in this meeting last year – maintained the stunning fight-back, before Niall Mitchell transformed things remarkably with a double goal blast.
Clare 2-22 Cork 3-18
Clare advanced to their second successive Munster Senior Hurling Final after an injury-time Diarmuid Ryan point finally edged out an obstinate Cork in Cusack Park.
Cork started quickly and had their first goal in the eight minute through Conor Cahalane, as they were the more dangerous side in the opening 15 minutes.
Clare settled with a five point unanswered rally bookended by Aidan McCarthy frees to inch 0-10 to 1-6 in front by the 23rd minute.
A 29th minute goal altered the narrative further after Peter Duggan broke a long delivery into the path of Tony Kelly to volley to the net, with Kelly, substitute Seadna Morey and David Fitzgerald ensuring a 1-13 to 1-8 interval advantage.
A Tony Kelly penalty early in the second half gave Clare their second goal as they looked to be heading to victory, but Cork got some inspiration from the bench though as Shane Kingston was held at the other end for a penalty eight minutes later that was initially saved by Quilligan, only for Dalton to react quickest to pull to the net at 2-14 to 2-10.
Clare never out the game to bed though and left themselves vulnerable for a third sucker-punch in the 64th minute when Niall O’Leary’s teasing cross field ball was gathered by Horgan to turn and finish to the net at 2-17 to 3-14.
Clare refused to panic though and it was their backs that literally came to their defence when needed most on the scoreboard as Diarmuid Ryan’s booming 80 metre winner catapulted the home side into the final.
Written by Michael Bolton
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