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First-half goal blast clinches win for Limerick against Cork to book Munster final spot

John Kiely’s men finished with eight points to spare in Thurles.

Limerick 2-22

Cork 1-17

IT HINGED IN the end on a spell late in the first half when Limerick offered a reminder of their power as champions and Cork were left to rue a costly phase as the game slipped out of their reach.

seamus-flanagan Cork's Mark Coleman and Limerick's Seamus Flanagan. Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

There were only two scores registered in first-half injury time of this Munster semi-final but both were Limerick goals and they were so crucial in the context of determining this outcome. Darragh O’Donovan and Kyle Hayes were both on target to change the complexion of a game where Cork had hurled with plenty promise in the first half, yet found themselves trailing by six at the interval, 2-10 to 1-7.

That cushion protected Limerick throughout the second half and was the principal reason why they booked another Munster final date, Clare or Tipperary lying in wait on 18 July. There were positive aspects to Cork’s showing but a qualifier section that is rapidly resembling a hurling bearpit, now lies ahead of them.

The match unfolded before a watching audience of around 2,400 with both sides treated to the novel prospect of a decent attendance after the 2020 championship had proceeded in empty stadiums.

Cork came armed with a new look as they fielded three debutants at this level and the start would have pleased them as there was little sign of debilitating nerves. They were 1-3 to 0-4 to the good at the first water break, the goal spurring them on in the 15th minute. Shane Kingston was the finisher of a team move as he displayed the opportunism amidst a scramble for possession but it was largely a product of an incisive run forward by defender Niall O’Leary.

shane-kingston-celebrates-scoring-his-sides-first-goal Shane Kingston celebrates scoring Cork's first goal. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A second gilt-edged chance materialised in the 25th minute. Conor Cahalane was felled by Peter Casey, who was despatched to the sin bin, but Nickie Quaid dived to his left to tip away Patrick Horgan’s piledriver from the penalty. It was a major setback for Cork and Limerick would outscore them 2-5 to 0-2 for the remainder of the half.

Limerick coped impressively with the personnel disadvantage, the Patrickswell pair of Aaron Gillane and Cian Lynch popping over points from frees and play respectively. Then they punished defensive indecision at the end of the half as the game spun away from Cork. Darragh O’Donovan’s effort found the net with the aid of a deflection, Kyle Hayes drilled home a shot after he benefitted from a Gillane pass and then showed the awareness to step inside the cover. Those strikes left the champions in a buoyant mood at the interval.

graeme-mulcahy-and-sean-oleary-hayes Graeme Mulcahy and Sean O'Leary-Hayes. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

They were able to hold Cork off throughout the second half, Gearoid Hegarty lofting over the point that left them ahed 2-16 to 1-13 by the water break. In the final quarter Cork made a charge, with substitute Shane Barrett impressing and Jack O’Connor looking lively at corner-forward.

Limerick’s lead was cut to four points on a few occasions but it was never shorter than that. They got points off the bench from David Reidy and Graeme Mulcahy while Lynch, Diarmaid Byrnes and Peter Casey all kept the scoreboard ticking over as well.

Darragh Fitzgibbon gave Limerick a few problems as he raced forward for Cork, registering one particularly memorable individual effort in the 54th minute, but the rearguard of the champions held firm.

They could savour a successful start to the summer and enjoy the presence of fans in the stands to share the moment with.

Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-6 (0-6f), Kyle Hayes, Darragh O’Donovan 1-0 each, Diarmaid Byrnes (0-1f), Cian Lynch, Peter Casey 0-3 each, Seamus Flanagan, Gearoid Hegarty 0-2 each, Wiliam O’Donoghue, Graeme Mulcahy, David Reidy 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-5 (0-5f), Shane Kingston 1-1, Jack O’Connor, Darragh Fitzgibbon 0-3 each, Shane Barrett 0-2, Tim O’Mahony, Seamus Harnedy, Robbie O’Flynn 0-1 each.

Limerick

1. Nickie Quaid (Effin)

2. Sean Finn (Bruff), 3. Richie English (Doon), 4. Barry Nash (South Liberties).

5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell), 6. Declan Hannon (Adare – captain), 7. Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry).

8. William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsiagh), 9. Darragh O’Donovan (Doon).

10. Gearoid Hegarty (St Patrick’s), 11. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell), 12. Tom Morrissey (Ahane).

13. Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell), 14. Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh-Castlemahon), 15. Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh).

Subs 

17. Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for Morrissey (45)

23. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock) for Flanagan (57)

22. Dan Morrissey (Ahane) for Nash (57)

25. David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca) for Hegarty (64)

26. Pat Ryan (Doon) for Gillane (66)

Cork

1. Patrick Collins (Ballinhassig)

2. Niall O’Leary (Castlelyons), 3. Damien Cahalane (St Finbarr’s), 4. Sean O’Donoghue (Inniscarra).

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5. Tim O’Mahony (Newtownshandrum), 6. Mark Coleman (Blarney), 7. Eoin Cadogan (Douglas). 

8. Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville), 9. Ger Millerick (Fr O’Neills)

10. Conor Cahalane (St Finbarr’s), 11. Seamus Harnedy (St Ita’s), 12. Robbie O’Flynn (Erins Own).

13. Shane Kingston (Douglas), 14. Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers), 15. Jack O’Connor (Sarsfields).

Subs

26. Shane Barrett (Blarney) for Conor Cahalane (44)

21. Luke Meade (Newcestown) for Harnedy (50)

17. Sean O’Leary-Hayes (Midleton) for O’Leary (51)

24. Alan Cadogan (Douglas) for O’Flynn (55)

25. Alan Connolly (Blackrock) for Kingston (68)

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Semple Stadium

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