By Eamon Scott
A FIRST half goal from skipper Shane Clarke was enough for the Limerick League to claim their first New Balance FAI Oscar Traynor Trophy interleague success since 1996.
Clarke had several chances early on but the only goal came just past the half hour mark when Danny O’Neill’s far post corner was met by Clarke who bundled home from close in when the two sides met at Derdimus Park, Kilkenny.
O’Neill’s accuracy from dead ball situations caused continuous problems for the Kilkenny rearguard and David Rice and Niall Andrews were fully occupied by Clarke who was a threat in the air and on the ground.
Kilkenny opted to substitute Dean Broaders for Sean Barcoe midway through the first half and his aerial threat began to give the hosts a foothold in the game.
But Limerick, represented by Janesboro FC, stood tall and repulsed everything that the Black and Ambers threw at them and goalscoring hero Clarke also performed heroically in defense as the home side looked to get back into the game off a series of frees into the visitors’ penalty box, seeking the head of the statuesque Barcoe.
Goalkeeper John Mulready was assured in goal, Danny o’Neill was an energetic presence as was Thomas Clarke and Niall Hanley and they battled brilliantly to stem the constant tide of Kilkenny attacks – particularly in the second period.
But Aidan Ryan’s men were not to be denied and the Limerick League saw the match out and created their own bit of history with a club side being crowned All-Ireland champions for the first time in the competitions history.