A dominant second half performance saw Limerick win the Munster Senior Hurling League, securing a six-point win over rivals Clare.
Aaron Gillane and Tom Morrissey did the damage on the scoreboard as the Treaty won on a 0-16 to 0-10 scoreline.
After losing the final of the pre-season tournament by a single point in both 2017 and 2016, a strong second half showing saw Limerick successful here.
In an end-to-end opening quarter, the hosts led 0-04 to 0-03, thanks to scores from Aaron Gillane, captain Paul Browne, Seamus Flanagan and Tom Morrissey.
However, a strong Clare forward line including Tony Kelly, Shane O’Donnell and Podge Collins were looking dangerous early on.
Despite these big names, it was Cathal Malone who was on scoring form, his second point levelling the game at 0-04 apiece after 18 tense minutes in the Gaelic Grounds.
The sides shared the next four points as this final was level as we approached the half-hour mark.
Gearoid Hegarty hit over a superb point to put John Kiely’s men in front before Gillane’s third point gave the Shannonsiders a 0-8 to 0-6 lead at the short whistle.
Clare started much brighter in the second half, scoring three points in a row in less than five minutes – with Tony Kelly’s 40th minute strike giving the Banner the lead for the first time.
Amazingly, Clare would not score again until the final puck of the game
Limerick’s u-21 captain last year Tom Morrissey ended the Clare scoring run – his effort dropping over the crossbar with the assistance of the upright.
This was the first of Limerick’s own run of four white flags in succession. Gillane and Morrissey were on target as Limerick went into a 0-12 to 0-09 lead after 52 minutes in front of a crowd of over 3,000.
Patrickswell sharpshooter Gillane made it six in a row for the home side with a further pair of frees – giving his county a five-point lead with ten minutes to play.
Wides were killing Clare’s chances in this contest – Donal Maloney and Gerry O’Connor’s men hit their 15th wide when Tony Kelly missed a ’65 that would have ended their scoreless run.
Gillane and Morrissey were making the Banner pay at every opportunity as an impressive second stanza saw Kiely’s men take the bragging rights, the trophy and, most importantly, some momentum ahead of the National League.
Scorers: Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-8 (0-6f); Tom Morrissey 0-4, Paul Browne, Seamus Flanagan, Barry O’Connell, Gearoid Hegarty 0-1 each
Clare: Cathal Malone 0-4, Cathal O’Connell 0-2; Podge Collins, Niall Deasy, Tony Kelly, David Reidy 0-1 each
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid
Tom Condon, Seamus Hickey, Richie English;
Diarmaid Byrnes, Dan Morrissey, William O’Meara;
Paul Browne, Cian Lynch;
Tom Morrissey, Darragh O’Donovan, Barry O’Connell;
Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Gearoid Hegarty.
Subs: Barry Murphy for Barry O’Connell
David Reidy for Gearoid Hegarty
Andrew La Touche Cosgrave for Tom Morrissey
CLARE: Andrew Fahy;
Jack Browne, Conor Cleary, Patrick O’Connor;
David Fitzgerald, David McInerney, Diarmuid Ryan;
Ryan Taylor, Colm Calvin;
Tony Kelly, Cathal Malone, Niall Deasy;
Shane O’Donnell, Cathal O’Connell, Podge Collins.
Subs: David Reidy for Ryan Taylor
John Conlon for Niall Deasy
Conor McGrath for Podge Collins
Jason McCarthy for Cathal O’Connell
Seadna Morey for David Fitzgerald