Cork and Limerick hurling league final in 1980 produced a dramatic finale

Cork and Limerick hurling league final in 1980 produced a dramatic finale
Eamonn O'Donoghue, Cork in action against Paddy Williams, Tipperary, in the 1980 championship at Semple Stadium. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Cork 2-10 Limerick 2-10

CORK’S hopes of an historic national league double were shattered by a last-gasp equalising goal from Ollie O’Connor in a dramatic 1980 hurling league final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

A week on from the footballers’ victory over Kerry, the hurlers were seconds away from lifting the title until O’Connor popped up with his goal to force a replay.

It was a thrilling end to a game watched by a crowd of 32,855, which yielded gate receipts of £59,519.

The attendance was 6,000 greater than the 1979 final between Tipp and Galway at the Gaelic Grounds and was the biggest since the ’76 Clare-Kilkenny replay, which attracted 34,610. There was a bigger crowd at the Cork-Kerry final with 39,139, paying £71,630 in gate receipts.

The consensus was a draw was a fair outcome to a game that was dictated by a strong wind, blowing in Limerick’s favour in the first-half.

The Shannonsiders received a timely boost with the opening goal from Joe McKenna, who was held impressively, for the most part, by Brian Murphy. It came after 14 minutes, following a shot from Brian Carroll which was stopped by ‘keeper Timmy Murphy, but McKenna reacted quickest to the loose ball.

Joe McKenna in action for Limerick in 1983. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland 
Joe McKenna in action for Limerick in 1983. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland 

Limerick moved 1-4 to 0-1 ahead before Cork pounced for a much-needed goal in the 23rd minute, scored by their most impressive forward, Eamonn O’Donoghue, who, despite losing his hurley, improvised to hand-pass the ball to the net.

Cork still found themselves 1-8 to 1-2 behind at half-time, a sizeable margin even allowing for the wind at their backs on the resumption.

They were still struggling entering the closing quarter, when another Blackrock-man, Ray Cummins, claimed Cork’s second goal after 46 minutes.

It came from another Rockies hurler, Tom Cashman, whose sideline cut from the right was caught by his club and county colleague with Cummins scoring one-handed.

With seven minutes remaining, Cork restored parity with a point from play from Pat Horgan and the introduction of substitute Seán O’Leary paid an immediate dividend with the home side edging in front for the first time after 56 minutes.

Two more points followed from the sticks of Cummins and Barry-Murphy with Cork now 2-10 to 1-10 ahead and looking like winners.

Limerick, however, had other ideas and attacked once more, this time along the left, where they were awarded a contentious line-ball some 35 yards from the corner flag.

Liam O’Donoghue cut it magnificently into the danger zone, where it dropped to Eamonn Cregan, whose shot was stopped by Denis Burns, but the ball fell kindly for O’Connor to whip in the equalising goal.

Afterwards Cork disputed the awarding of the sideline ball to Limerick, ’keeper Murphy claiming it never touched Denis Coughlan on the way out of play.

All bar three points of the combined total of 4-20 came from play with Horgan converting one free and Eamonn Cregan two.

Cork went on to win the replay, though Limerick would land the Munster crown that summer, when the Rebels were going for six provincial titles in succession.

Scorers for Cork: E O’Donoghue 1-2, P Horgan 0-4 (0-1 f), R Cummins 1-1, D Buckley, S O’Leary and Jimmy Barry-Murphy 0-1 each

Limerick: J McKenna and O O’Connor 1-1 each, E Cregan 0-3 (0-2 f), J Flanagan 0-2, B Carroll, E Grimes and L O’Donoghue 0-1 each

CORK: T Murphy; D Burns, B Murphy, J Horgan; D Coughlan, J Crowley, D MacCurtain (c); T Cashman, T Crowley; D Buckley, P Horgan, J Barry-Murphy; C McCarthy, R Cummins, E O’Donoghue.

Sub: S O’Leary for McCarthy 48.

LIMERICK: T Quaid; D Murray, L Enright (c), D Punch; L O’Donoghue, M Carroll, P Fitzmaurice; J Carroll, G Mulcahy; E Grimes, J Flanagan, B Carroll; O O’Connor, J McKenna, E Cregan.

Sub: S Foley for Mulcahy 25.

Referee: N O’Donoghue (Dublin).

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