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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 19 December, 2018
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Limerick complete epic comeback to defeat Cork in extra-time and advance to All-Ireland final

Extra-time goals from Shane Dowling and Pat Ryan saw them home.

Limerick 3-32

Cork 2-31

(After extra-time)

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

2018 IS THE hurling summer that just keeps on giving.

Cian Lynch celebrates scoring a goal Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

For the second time in the space of 24 hours, extra-time was required to decide an All-Ireland semi-final, but on this occasion a vibrant young Limerick side did the business and sealed a place in the August decider.

Substitutes Shane Dowling and Pat Ryan scored a goal apiece in the second period of extra-time, while Aaron Gillane finished with 13 points to send John Kiely’s side into their first All-Ireland final since 2007. They’ve suffered five final defeats since their last Liam MacCarthy victory in 1973, but there’s something different about this group of players.

Cork will be left wondering how they let this one slip away.

The Shannonsiders trailed by six points with six minutes of normal time left (1-26 to 1-20) but showed incredible heart to force extra-time.

On the verge of a fourth semi-final defeat in-a-row, they hit seven unanswered scores, including five from star forward Gillane. They led by one after 73 minutes but Cork equalised at the very death through a Patrick Horgan free to guarantee a further 20 minutes of hurling.

Shane Kingston and Diarmuid Byrnes Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Horgan scored 0-11 but found himself on the end of a sixth defeat at the All-Ireland semi-final stage in 11 years as Cork failed to live with a buoyant Limerick in the extra period. Gillane was a key figure for Limerick despite missing a few goal chances, while Dowling made a vital impact off the bench after his 56th-minute introduction.

71,073 packed into a heaving Croke Park for a spectacle that was every bit as good as the Galway-Clare classic a day earlier.

Cork’s most recent appearance at this stage came 12 months ago when they combusted after Damien Cahalane’s red card and went down by 0-20 to 4-19 to Waterford. This loss was even more devastating, given the winning position they found themselves in.

The Limerick half-back dominated the closing stages, while Cian Lynch was a colossus in midfield. Cork had plenty of good performances from Darragh Fitzgibbon, Daniel Kearney, Conor Lehane and Horgan, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Bill Cooper, Sean O’Donoghue and Damien Cahalane with Peter Casey Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Cork wing-forwards Kearney and Luke Meade dropped deep to help out their midfield but Limerick’s half-backs held their positions and played zonally.

Kearney, in particular, caused Limerick problems early on. By half-time he had two scores to his name and three assists. Gillane butchered two goal chances in the opening period, kicking one over and the other wide.

Cork looked set to take a 0-14 to 0-12 lead into the break when Limerick struck for a devastating goal.

Lynch fought hard under a long Nickie Quaid puck-out and the ball made its way to Flanagan who picked out the run of Lynch with a delightful pass inside. He smashed a bullet past Nash to give the Shannonsiders a one-point interval lead.

Nash made a crucial save from Lynch shortly after the restart, but Cork surged clear. Darragh Fitzgibbon and Harnedy landed two points apiece, while Horgan clipped over four frees in succession to leave the Rebels 0-23 to 1-17 in front after 50 minutes.

Aaron Gillane celebrates scoring a late free Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Gillane sent over a placed ball in response but Cork were finding their rhythm. From the resultant puck-out, Nash picked out Lehane with marvellous pick-out underneath the Hogan Stand. Lehane didn’t need to break stride and he went straight for goal, burying the ball past Quaid.

Fitzgibbon tagged on another score after a burst up the wing, but from there the pendulum swung back in Limerick’s favour.

Kiely sprung Dowling off the bench and he posted a quick-fire brace. Cork responded with two of their own, but Limerick went on a run with seventh straight scores to take the lead with a minute of the four allotted of stoppage-time left.

Horgan’s long-range free from midfield forced extra-time, but quickfire goals in the second period from Dowling and Ryan left Cork on the brink. They hit the net with a late flicked goal from Lehane, but it was too late to deny Limerick.

Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-13 (0-8f), Shane Dowling 1-4 (1-0 pen), Graeme Mulcahy 0-4, Cian Lynch 1-1, Pat Ryan 1-0, Gearoid Hegarty 0-3, Kyle Hayes 0-1, Diarmuid Byrnes 0-1, Darragh O’Donovan 0-1, Seamus Flanagan 0-1, Tom Morrissey 0-1, Barry Nash 0-1, David Reidy 0-1.

Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-11 (0-10f), Conor Lehane 2-3, Darragh Fitzgibbon 0-4, Seamus Harnedy 0-3, Daniel Kearney 0-3, Shane Kingston 0-2, Mark Coleman 0-2 (0-1 sideline), Luke Meade 0-1, Chris Joyce 0-1, Jack O’Connor 0-1.

Limerick

1. Nickie Quaid (Effin)

2. Sean Finn (Bruff)
3. Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh)
4. Richie English (Doon)

5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell)
6. Declan Hannon (Adare – captain)
7. Dan Morrissey (Ahane)

8. Darragh O’Donovan (Doon)
9. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell)

12. Tom Morrissey (Ahane)
11. Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry)
10. Gearóid Hegarty (St Patrick’s)

13. Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell)
14. Séamus Flanagan (Feohanagh)
15. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock)

Subs

17. Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh) for Tom Morrissey (51)
19. Shane Dowling (Na Piarsaigh) for Flanagan (56)
26. Pat Ryan (Doon) for Mulcahy (63)
24. William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh) for O’Donovan (71)
21. Seamus Hickey (Murroe-Boher) for Byrnes (77)
23. Barry Nash (South Liberties) for Gillane (84)

Cork

1. Anthony Nash (Kanturk)

2. Sean O’Donoghue (Inniscarra)
3. Damien Cahalane (St Finbarr’s)
4. Colm Spillane (Castlelyons)

6. Eoin Cadogan (Douglas)
5. Christopher Joyce (Na Piarsaigh)
7. Mark Coleman (Blarney)

8. Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville)
9. Bill Cooper (Youghal)

12. Seamus Harnedy (St Ita’s – captain)
14. Shane Kingston (Douglas)
10. Daniel Kearney (Sarsfields)

13. Luke Meade (Newcestown)
15. Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers)
11. Conor Lehane (Midleton)

Subs

22. Robbie O’Flynn (Erins Own for Kingston (55)
18. Mark Ellis (Millstreet) for Kearney (60)
19. Tom O’Mahony (Newtownshandrum) for Meade (64)
24. Michael Cahalane (Bandon) for Cadogan (71)
10. Kearney for Cahalane (start of ET)
24. Cahalane for Harnedy (76)
13. Kingston for Fitzgibbon (78)
23. Jack O’Connor (Sarsfields) for Kearney (85)

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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