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Remembering The Last Time Clare And Limerick Slayed Munster's Giants

Remembering The Last Time Clare And Limerick Slayed Munster's Giants

The Munster football championship - not the happiest of hunting grounds for upsets.

When they do happen - they're often put down as off-days for the heavyweights.

Like 2003, when Limerick ventured down to Páirc Uí Chaoimh to play the previous year’s All-Ireland semi-finalists, Cork - who just happened to be the reigning Munster kings to boot.

With the current Tipperary manager, Liam Kearns, in charge, the Treaty men masterminded a 10-point drubbing of the Leesiders.

What's more, they kept Cork to six points - at a time when the Rebel County were a force to be reckoned with - and only two of those came from play.

There may have been an element of surprise, considering Limerick hadn’t beaten their hosts since 1965. But that doesn’t account for such a mauling.

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Limerick eventually went on lose by five points to Kerry in the Munster final, backing up their Division Two league campaign which also included a final appearance.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner in 2013, Cork footballer Derek Kavanagh recounted what exactly went wrong that day against the Munster minnows.

You think before a game against a ‘lesser’ team that the tradition might work against them, but the cliché of it all being on the day is true and nothing else matters.

We went in thinking Cork always beat Limerick and that that’d be enough, even at half-time when we were five points down we were still expecting to turn it around, but then you get to the last 10 minutes and you’re still in a hole. That was when the panic started to set in, minute by minute.

Captain Muiris Gavin was the star on the day, scoring nine of his side's 16 points. Naturally, the Limerick man's prolific performance led to Cork frustration which culminated in Fionán Murray seeing red for lashing out at the Limerick forward.

Kearns' men essentially got the job done early, and kept Cork to a single second half point despite the home side having arguably the most accurate boot in the game in Colin Corkery's up front.

The dream was eventually blown out by Kerry in the provincial final, with lessons perhaps already learnt from Kerry's experience during the previous decade. 1992, you see, was a year of shell-shock for the Green and Gold.

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Munster had been a procession for Cork and Kerry sides, similar to the way it is for the latter now. Clare jerseys were therefore seen as nothing but cannon fodder in Kerry pursuits to Munster finals and beyond.

Motivated by years of underachieving, John Maughan, the current Offaly manager, helped Clare to win only their second Munster title in history.

Clare’s Seamus Clancy, the only Clare recipient of a football All-Star, famously told the Sunday Game that he was “absolutely convinced” Clare were going to win on that fateful day in Limerick.

In 2011, almost two decades after that famous day, Maughan told the Independent he shared similar feelings to Clancy heading for the Gaelic Grounds.

It was one of the few occasions in my lifetime I had that experience. I knew if the sky fell down that day that we were going to win that game. It was one of those unique feelings. I was just absolutely convinced we were going to do it.

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They were made work for the title after a lightening Kerry start gave the tie that familiar sense of déjà vu. But that determined spirit soon began to manifest itself, with Colm Clancy and Martin Daly finishing to the net for the Banner men.

In goal, James Hanrahan was forced into a terrific save before Gerry Killeen left the Kingdom dumbstruck with two late points to confirm a historic win.

Kildare’s heroics in Newbridge last season may offer a glimmer of hope, but upsets are becoming less frequent as the years tick on and intercounty sides inevitably develop into fully-fledged professional outfits.

To have that confidence going into a Munster final they hadn’t competed in for 43 years seems inconceivable, but Clare made it a reality - just as Limerick did with the impossible 11 years later.

Both sides will still enter their respective games on Saturday night with hope - the memories or stories from 1992 and 2003 driving them to end the famines.

It’s unlikely the teams will deviate much from the script, but the same was said before the aforementioned encounters.

Clare have home advantage; Limerick face a declining Cork.

Famines are there to be eventually ended - this weekend is as good a time as any.

SEE ALSO: Munster Giants Prepare To Make Provincial Bow But Do We Care?

Aonghus Ó Maicín

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