The RTÉ TV panel were unified in their praise of Cork’s efforts in defeating reigning All-Ireland champions Limerick by seven points on Sunday afternoon.
In stark contrast to their previous loss at the hands of Tipperary, John Meyler’s side outmuscled and out hurled the All-Ireland champions to get their provincial campaign back on track.
“Cork’s backs get maligned a lot of the time but they were heroic, they were manly and they were tough out there today,” former Offaly All-Ireland winner Michael Duignan gushed.
“From midfield up, Fitzgibbon with a point, Harnedy four from play, Luke Meade two, Cadogan three from play, Horgan 1-3 from play and Declan Dalton, two points when he came on.
"Aidan Walsh didn’t score but he was immense.
“That was an unbelievable Cork performance from eight to fifteen and when Alan Cadogan came on, he lit a fire under Cork.
"This (result) is brilliant for the Munster Championship because Waterford were beaten in Thurles so it could have maybe turned into a damp squib.
“We now have a full-blooded Munster Championship on our hands and that’s what this round-robin is all about. What a performance from Cork. Limerick will come back from it even though the game plan didn’t work. They were outplayed, outsmarted and out hurled by a brilliant Cork team.”
Donal Óg Cusack pointed to the fact Cork combined their fighting spirit with an effective plan to overcome Limerick. Cusack felt it was an all-round team effort rather than a couple of individuals standing out that earned the Rebels their victory.
“That was an outstanding performance all over the field,” the former Cork goalkeeper commented.
“From Antony Nash’s puck outs, Eoin Cadogan and young O’Leary were immense in the full-back line. We know you are at nothing without fighting spirit in a competition like this but Cork had a plan today as well. Cork knew what they were at defensively.
“Go to the middle of the field where Bill Cooper was a Trojan. The half-forward line, Daniel Kearney was excellent and that was the best performance from Luke Meade that I’ve seen in a long time. Inside, Alan Cadogan’s movement was outstanding. Desperate to see Conor Lehane going off but the minute Cadogan came on, his pace and willingness to take the man on. It was the same with (Patrick) Horgan who was outstanding, a fantastic win for Cork.”
Kilkenny legend Henry Shefflin paid tribute to Eoin Cadogan’s man of the match display and thought Cork’s execution of their manager’s tactics was too much for Limerick.
“We have been talking about Cork’s porous defence and in their time they had ‘a Rock’ back there but today Eoin Cadogan did an immense job on one of the league’s top performers, Aaron Gillane,” Shefflin noted.
“Cadogan was by far and away Cork’s best player. Cork needed all their players to implement their plan. The system last week, the players didn’t perform in it as they should have. Daniel Kearney did a brilliant job tracking back today. That gave Robert Downey and Mark Coleman time to cover Aaron Gillane who didn’t get that ocean of space he was looking for.
“All Cadogan had to do was stop the Limerick full-forward from getting it and all the other Cork players had to do was funnel back and away they went. Cork have the hurlers to work the ball up the field and get scores. They scored 1-14 in the second half compared to Limerick’s eight points. They just totally took over.”
Former All-Ireland winning Clare captain Anthony Daly believed Limerick never got out of first gear but also highlighted Cork’s improved attitude and work rate as important factors in the Munster Championship’s outcome.
“Fair play to John Meyler for picking Eoin Cadogan despite recent criticism and he was in Aaron Gillane’s face all day,” Daly commented.
“Ellis coming back into centre-back, he might have been in his jeans last Sunday but he is some man (after today’s performance). You can talk all you like about tactics but what could Cork have changed completely in seven days on attitude?
“Attitude was one hundred per cent out there today whereas Limerick’s wasn’t and they looked like they were still stuck in the league zone I’m afraid. This is championship and it is a rude awakening for them.”