Despite Hogan's magical moments, Limerick made their mark and will be fired up for the Rebels

Despite Hogan's magical moments, Limerick made their mark and will be fired up for the Rebels
Limerick’s Tom Morrissey celebrates scoring a late point. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

FROM a Cork perspective, it would have been better if Wexford or Kilkenny had been successful in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Given the current strength of Munster hurling, with three counties from the province into the last four again, it's far from ideal to have to take on Limerick at the end of July. Cork would have been racing certainties to beat Wexford and, given the mileage on the clock of Kilkenny's key players, would have had the pace and verve to stretch the Cats too.

Instead, it's a rematch with a Limerick side heading to Croker with real momentum, loads of talent and a vocal support. If John Meyler's charges are to reach the county's first All-Ireland final in five years they'll certainly earn their spot.

Graeme Mulcahy of Limerick in action against Paul Murphy. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Graeme Mulcahy of Limerick in action against Paul Murphy. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The Rebels' two most recent semi-final appearances ended in disappointment and it didn't help that they were Munster champions, on an extended break, having to defeat one of their great rivals. Tipp made smithereens of Cork in 2014 and while we can refer to the red card as being a decisive factor last summer, Waterford still got the job done at the provincial winner's expense. Limerick, emboldened by their first victory over Kilkenny in the modern era, won't fear Cork one bit on July 29.

Indeed the Shannonsiders' current crop of hurlers have had the upper hand over Cork at minor and U21, while they'll also take confidence from the fact they hurled a man down for much of the round-robin clash at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in June and still secured a draw.

At half-time in Thurles on Sunday, Limerick were in the driving seat. They'd weathered Kilkenny's early charge and were dangerous when they spread the sliotar wide, with Seamus Flanagan, Aaron Gillane and Graeme Mulcahy running intelligently to receive possession and threatening goals.

For all that, Kilkenny will look back with real regret to the second half. Limerick were a bit flat on the restart but the Cats hit some shocking wides and even the return of Richie Hogan to his magical best couldn't get them over the line. Some of Hogan's touches, offloads and scores were simply breathtaking.

Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan scores a goal. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan scores a goal. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

When the game was there to be won after Hogan's goal, Kilkenny's ball-winning left them down. The manner in which Limerick dug out the win was significant. 

They were patient in working chances and their subs, particularly Seamus Dowling and Peter Casey, were sharp. Wing-backs Dan Morrissey and Diarmuid Byrnes were colossal and Tom Morrissey's fourth point was a beauty.

Clare’s Tony Kelly. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Clare’s Tony Kelly. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Clare looked good in patches on Saturday, with Tony Kelly electric at times, but their full-back line is vulnerable to long deliveries, one of Galway's specialities. The Tribe should retain the All-Ireland, but Cork-Limerick is too hard to call.

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