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Limerick's hurling greatness, Lynch the star in attack and a tough final experience for Cork

It finished 3-32 to 1-22 in Limerick’s favour against Cork.

Limerick's Nickie Quaid and Aaron Gillane celebrate.
Limerick's Nickie Quaid and Aaron Gillane celebrate.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

1. Limerick cement their hurling greatness

After the glorious breakthrough of 2018 for Limerick hurling, came the controlled success in the surreal winter setting in 2020. Now 2021 has delivered another Liam MacCarthy Cup triumph for John Kiely’s team. Back-to-back senior crowns is something no other Limerick team has achieved and over the past three decades, only Kilkenny and Cork are the hurling counties that have secured that feat.

It affirms how special this Limerick group is, three victories in the space of four seasons illustrating the dominance they have exerted on the game. This latest success cements their hurling greatness.

2. Explosive first-half sets up victory for Limerick

Limerick have become famed for the scoring bursts after water breaks which settle contests. Today they took that to a new level, outscoring Cork 1-10 to 0-5 in the second quarter. Their early play had also been impressive in shooting 2-8 and made for a staggering first-half total of 3-18.

If Cork were within touching distance after the first quarter, the game was out of their reach by the interval. The three goals Limerick plundered courtesy of Gearoid Hegarty (2) and Aaron Gillane showcased their ruthless streak as they inflicted serious scoring damage on the Cork defence. The heights Limerick scaled in the first half all over the pitch were remarkable, evoking memories of Kilkenny’s 2008 masterclass with final opponents Cork left as shellshocked today as Waterford were then.

3. A tough experience for Cork

Returning to the final stage for the first time in eight years and with the manner of their pulsating semi-final success against Kilkenny, Cork entered this game in a buoyant mood. The considerable challenge they faced was recognised beforehand but hopes still remained they could end the county’s 16-year wait for the Liam MacCarthy Cup. 

They were rocked by an early Hegarty goal but improved noticeably, energised by Shane Kingston’s superb strike to the net. However they were left flailing in Limerick’s wake as the first half progressed and the size of the scoreboard deficit, meant it was a damage limitation exercise in the second half.

For all the county’s impressive strides at underage level this summer and the development of their senior unit, this was a reminder of just how high a standard Limerick have set at senior level.

john-kiely-with-kieran-kingston John Kiely with Kieran Kingston. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

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4. Lynch leads the way in Limerick attacking brilliance

Limerick’s greatest strength in their hurling prowess in so many sectors but this was an afternoon that again showed Cian Lynch’s star dazzles that bit brighter. The 2018 Hurler of the Year was in wondrous form and wreaked his brand of attacking havoc that Cork could not handle. He fired over the opening point of the game and while not scoring again in the first half, he set up both of Gearoid Hegarty’s goals while also producing an audacious pick up to release Tom Morrissey for another point.

In the second half, he caught fire in the scoring sense as he smashed over five points from play. The Patrickswell man was in outstanding form, spearheading a potent half-forward line as himself, Hegarty and Morrissey shot 2-11 between them.

5. Cork’s old stagers in attack kept fighting

Only two players in the Cork squad had experience of an All-Ireland senior hurling final before today. Since 2013, Seamus Harnedy and Patrick Horgan have kept fighting to land that elusive title, their persistence paving the way for a return to a decider. There was to be no moment of glorious deliverance today yet 31-year-old Harnedy and 33-year-old Horgan still stepped up to assume the attacking responsibility for Cork in difficult circumstances, given the strength of Limerick’s performance.

They hit a combined total of 0-16, Harnedy with four from play and Horgan shooting over a dozen. Ten of the points from the Glen Rovers man originated from placed balls but he drew fouls himself and battled to the final whistle. In a game when little went right for Cork, it provided another example of what Harnedy and Horgan have offered the county for several years.

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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