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Cork survive tense finish to win high-scoring Munster U20 hurling final against Limerick

Galway now await Cork in the All-Ireland decider.

Updated Jul 28th 2021, 9:24 PM

Cork 1-26

Limerick 1-24

ANOTHER PULSATING NIGHT of Munster underage hurling culminated in Cork withstanding a ferocious Limerick comeback to retain their provincial U20 crown.

cork-players-celebrate-winning Cork players celebrate their success. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Heading down the stretch, Cork looked to be in control of this game as they gripped a six-point advantage. But Limerick wrestled back the momentum, inspired by Diarmuid Hegarty firing home a goal in the 52nd minute after he was spotted in space by Bryan Nix. 

Then Cathal O’Neill, who finished with a stunning total of 0-16, rattled off three points from frees in succession and the teams were tied by the 58th minute. Cork had hit some turbulence but they steadied themselves. O’Neill was just off target with a free to edge Limerick ahead and in injury-time Cork mounted another scoring burst.

Padraig Power and Darragh Flynn, who hit a combined 1-17 between them overall, supplied vital points while substitute Ben Cunningham, who made a real impression, swung over his second of the game. O’Neill knocked over a free in between but Cork held on to book an All-Ireland final spot against Galway on the weekend of 7-8 August.

padraig-power-with-chris-thomas Padraig Power with Chris Thomas. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

It creates a chance for Cork to land a second successive All-Ireland title, after only winning the 2020 final earlier this month against Dublin. Their form in the middle section of tonight’s match was critical as they outscored Limerick by 0-18 to 0-9 between the 22nd and 52nd minutes. They came close to a second goal during the third quarter, Padraig Power and Robbie Cotter denied by the Limerick rearguard, and that allowed Limerick to stay in touch until the finish.

cork-players-celebrate-winning Cork players celebrate winning. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Cork’s prospects were injected with hope early on, Power surging through after two minutes and finishing deftly to the net. But Limerick backed by a hefty breeze were not rattled and grew to dictate the contest. In a spell either side of the break, they won the scoring battle 0-7 to 0-2.

Their leading attacking prospect Cathal O’Neill showcased his outstanding ability from frees. He landed 0-9 from that source in the first half, while Diarmuid Hegarty, younger brother of senior figure Gearoid, chipped in with two scores from play. Cork had an accurate free-taker themselves, Flynn chipping in with seven in the opening period.

Pat Ryan’s charges finished the half stronger, outscoring Limerick 0-8 to 0-3 after the 22nd minute. Brian Hayes began to dominate the game with his aerial ability in the half-forward line and he picked off two points. Power shot another brace before the interval and Cotter was lively alongside him in attack.

darragh-flynn-ciaran-joyce-and-cormac-obrien-with-cathal-downes Cork and Limerick players in action. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

It was 1-13 to 0-14 in Cork’s favour at the interval, while by the second-half water break they had stretched ahead 1-21 to 0-19. Flynn caught fire from open play while in their defence Ethan Twomey and Ciaran Joyce excelled. 

Limerick came thundering into the game as Hegarty and O’Neill ignited their charge to help them get level. The push to move in front just didn’t materialise as Cork’s underage scene received another boost.

Scorers for Cork: Darragh Flynn 0-12 (0-7f), Padraig Power 1-5, Brian Hayes, Robbie Cotter, Ben Cunningham, Jack Cahalane 0-2 each, Brian O’Sullivan 0-1.

Scorers for Limerick: Cathal O’Neill 0-16 (0-15f), Diarmuid Hegarty 1-3, Adam English, Aidan O’Connor 0-2 each, Bryan Nix 0-1. 

Cork

1. Cathal Wilson (Newcestown)

4. Cormac O’Brien (Newtownshandrum), 3. Dáire O’Leary (Watergrasshill), 2. Eoin Downey (Glen Rovers).

7. Kevin Moynihan (Na Piarsaigh), 6. Ciarán Joyce (Castlemartyr), 5. Ethan Twomey (St Finbarr’s).

8. Sam Quirke (Midleton), 9. Brian O’Sullivan (Kanturk).

10. Darragh Flynn (Ballygiblin), 11. Daniel Hogan (Sarsfields), 12. Brian Hayes (St Finbarr’s).

15. Jack Cahalane (St Finbarr’s), 14. Pádraig Power (Blarney), 13. Robbie Cotter (Blackrock).

Subs

23. Ben Cunningham (St Finbarr’s) for Hogan (42)

17. Cillian O’Donovan (Douglas) for O’Leary (inj) (49)

21. Micheál Mullins (Whitechurch) for O’Sullivan (52)

22. Luke Horgan (Glen Rovers) for Cotter (53)

Limerick

1. Conor O’Neill (Ballybrown)

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2. Chris Thomas (Doon), 3. Pádraig Harnett (Ahane), 4. Michael Keane (Adare).

5. Emmet McEvoy (Na Piarsaigh), 6. Colin Coughlan (Ballybrown), 7. Cormac Ryan (Doon).

8. Jimmy Quilty (Blackrock – captain), 9. Patrick Kirby (Patrickswell).

12. Adam English (Doon), 11. Cathal O’Neill (Crecora Manister), 10. Diarmuid Hegarty (St Patrick’s).

13. Bryan Nix (Newcastle West), 14. Aidan O’Connor (Ballybrown), 15. Ronan Fox (Ahane).

Subs

 

24. Ethan Hurley (Newcastle West) for Ryan (32)

20. Fergal O’Connor (Effin) for Keane (41)

17. Patrick Kirby (Patrickswell) for Downes (43)

19. Eddie Stokes (Doon) for Fox (52)

Referee: Kevin Jordan (Tipperary)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Páirc Uí Chaoimh

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