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Limerick's bright start to Munster title bid, Cork's missed chances and youthful promise

It finished 2-22 to 1-17 in Limerick’s favour in Semple Stadium.

Cork's Ger Millerick and Limerick's William O'Donoghue.
Cork's Ger Millerick and Limerick's William O'Donoghue.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

1. Limerick’s bright start to the summer

After seeing the two teams they beat in the All-Ireland series last year, both suffer provincial exits over the last six days, Limerick would have been mindful of the potential to trip up here. Their first quarter was sluggish, there was some ragged play in the second half and they put 20 wides on the board.

Not that it mattered with the end outcome. John Kiely’s team still hit 2-22 and had eight points to spare. They weathered a Cork storm in the first half, had a couple of sterling defensive showings from Sean Finn and Diarmaid Byrnes, while the likes of Cian Lynch and Peter Casey popped up impressively in attack. Job done as they started the summer

2. Cork’s missed opportunities

 

The first half could be condensed into a tale of four goal chances. The first plundered by Shane Kingston to boost Cork, the second squandered by Patrick Horgan at a stage when they were thriving, then the third and fourth where Darragh O’Donovan and Kyle Hayes capitalised to break the game open for Limerick.

It is simplistic to point to the missed penalty as the moment the game moved out of Cork’s reach but it was one of the opportunities they did not avail of. In the same spell of the game, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Conor Cahalane snapped wides from scoreable positions, while Cork coughed up another point chance when Fitzgibbon collided with Barry Nash, Limerick working play downfield for Lynch to point.

Again in the second half, Cork charged at Limerick and cut the gap to four. But Horgan twice, Fitzgibbon and Eoin Cadogan all spurned opening of varying difficulities to point. Cork’s chief marksman was unusually quiet, it’s been a while since Horgan was held scoreless from play.

When shifted into centre-forward, Fitzgibbon made a real impact in slicing the Limerick defence apart. Jack O’Connor was a handful at corner-forward as well but Cork couldn’t convert enough to hurt Limerick and didn’t create a meaningful goal chance in the second half.

dan-morrissey-and-shane-barrett Cork's Shane Barrett and Limerick's Dan Morrissey. Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

3. Limerick’s Munster control as three-in-a-row bid is alive

In a fortnight’s time, Limerick will bid to land three-in-a-row in Munster. It is a feat the county last achieved in the 1930s, when they strung four titles on the bounce together, and is evidence of the relentless consistency of this current team.

Even after two All-Ireland successes there is signs that their drive has not diminished. This was far from a flawless showing but once they got the pair of goals before the interval, the match never threatened to spiral out of their grasp.

It was an accomplished opening display and with some high-profile teams set to journey into the qualifiers, this result will please John Kiely. They are now destined at the minimum for a last six place in the championship.

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4. Youthful promise for Cork as they head to the qualifiers

Cork started with three newcomers to this level of senior hurling and brought on two forwards who will be integral to the U20 team’s hopes of landing the long-awaited 2020 All-Ireland final next Saturday night in Nowlan Park. When the senior team regroup and discover their qualifier assignment, they will hope to harness the youthful promise that was on show here.

Ger Millerick was terrific on his debut, playing with purpose and energy as he thundered into the challenge Limerick posed. Shane Barrett came off the bench, his senior bow had arrived in the dying moments of last year’s qualifier against Dublin, and caught the eye as he slotted over two fine points from the left wing.

Jack O’Connor was in from the start and has been floating around the senior setup for a few years. The recent league hinted he was ready to nail down a regular first-team berth. The fact that Sean Finn watched him closely indicated that Limerick recognised the threat he posed but O’Connor still managed to weigh in with three points from play. That trio will hope to use this game as a springboard. 

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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