Davy Fitzgerald continued his impressive start to life in the Clare hot seat as his unbeaten side opened their National Hurling League campaign with a comprehensive 2-24 to 1-13 win over Limerick .
Limerick suffered a blow just before the game when Declan Hannon was ruled out, with Graeme Mulcahy coming into replace him and just over a minute in they were a point down when Conor McGrath pointed with a free.
Limerick fought back however and responded with a goal from Niall Moran following good work by David Breen and Mulcahy and they went three ahead when James Ryan pointed.
Shane Dowling and Fergal Lynch traded points as the frantic start continued however Limerick suffered another blow in the 10th minute when Ryan was forced off injured.
McGrath made it a two point game with a free before Dowling responded for Limerick . McGrath scored his third point of the game to make 1-03 to 0-04 with 15 minutes gone.
Dowling and McGrath where the shining lights in the opening exchanges with Na Piarsaigh man Dowling scoring his third on 16 minutes followed by an effort from Conor Allis to put Limerick further in front.
Joe Allen’s side moved 5 points ahead when Niall Moran slotted over a point however the home side were rocked moments later when Colin Ryan scored a goal for Clare against the run of play.
The goal rocked Limerick and settled Clare who levelled matters and then moved three points ahead thanks to a brace from McGrath and points from Cathal McInerney and Nicky O’Connell.
Clare were in command and added further scores from McGrath, with his sixth of the evening, and McInenery scoring points.
Dowling stemmed the run of points with his fourth and fifth for Limerick just before half time to take the scores to 1-12 to 1-08 at the 35 minute mark.
John Conlon and O’Connell added further points for Fitzgerald’s side 3 minutes into the second half to move six points ahead.
In truth Limerick never got out of the blocks in the second half and went 8 points behind when Sean Collins and O’Connell, with his third, added scores.
Dowling and Kevin Downes both missed chances for Limerick to reduce the score and it would be 17 minutes before they added to their tally, Allis getting his 2nd of the evening.
Prior to that man of the match McGrath had scored with another free before Downes and Conlon traded scores.
That man McGrath scored another free with 15 minutes left to make it 1-19 to 1-10 and a minute later scored a goal, to take his personal tally to 1-08.
Limerick were playing for the final whistle now, although they did manage further points from Dowling (two points) and Donal O’Grady however that was to be their end of the scoring, while Clare were looking for blood.
An impressive win was made all the more impressive thanks to further scores from Pat Donnellan, two from Conlon and another free from that man McGrath.
In the end the Banner County deserved their win and they head into the Waterford Crystal Cup final against Tipperary still unbeaten in 2012 while for Limerick there is plenty of work to do before the next encounter with Laois.