AND the wait goes on for another year for Cork and their loyal band of supporters as they came up short again yesterday,
To lose two semi-finals in-a-row is heart-breaking, especially as history repeated itself – beaten by a Munster side as provincial champions. But really how can you fault them for effort as they gave it everything and just ran out of steam in extra-time.
Unlike most of their games this year in the championship, when they finished strongly, it was the opposite this time as they let a six-point lead slip and in the end, had to rely on an injury-time free to take it to extra-time.
At that stage it was difficult to see a Rebel win, Seamus Harnedy limped back on and it was no great surprise to see him taken off soon after. Daniel Kearney had gone off injured in normal time but came back on for extra-time and he too had to make the walk to the sideline, as did Darragh Fitzgibbon. All were massive losses when the Rebels needed all their big players on the pitch for those vital 20 minutes.
But when supporters look back in the cold light of day in the coming weeks, the first thing that has to be said is – what a match! Just like the Clare v Galway game the day before it was of the highest calibre from the start, and the only disappointment was the fact there had to be a loser.
There has to be an argument for replays in such big games, considering what’s at stake at this stage. Who wouldn’t have loved to see these two go at it again and give them the chance of doing so over 70 minutes, rather than the lottery of 20?
When you have given it everything, and both sides had, then there must be some leeway for a replay and if you look at it the other semi has gone to one anyway,
After the game, Cork captain, Seamus Harnedy, was naturally gutted but was still very proud of his side’s efforts, not just yesterday but over the entire championship.
“A semi-final defeat is never sweet,” he said. “All I can say is that I’m extremely proud of all of the boys in the dressing room. I suppose in the two previous semi-finals, we felt we didn’t perform to our highest ability and I think we did that a bit more today.
“We performed reasonably well, we had chances towards the end, myself included but Nickie Quaid made a great save.
“We had chances, it’s just a pity we didn’t finish it out but I’m incredibly proud of all of the lads. They’ve put everything in there since December-January and it’s encouraging to see the players that are coming through in Cork, too.
“We hit a few silly wides and conceded a couple of sloppy frees. Games ebb and flow, we always knew that Limerick were going to have a purple patch and come at us again towards the end.
“In fairness to them, they stuck at it so you have to give them fair dues as well. It was an incredibly tight game, but unfortunately, we came out on the wrong side of it.”
Speaking about the injury that forced him off he said: “It was a completely different injury. There were rumours of a hamstring injury but, in fairness to Deccie [O’Sullivan, physio] and his team, I was perfect coming into the game but I just got a dead leg after 20, 25 minutes.
“It just began to increasingly stiffen up and I couldn’t go on anymore, unfortunately. But look, it’s not about me, it’s about the 30 lads below and what they have achieved this year is obviously very special.
“You always want to put your best hand up in the All-Ireland series and we’ve come up shy, but I’m incredibly proud of all of their efforts.
“You can influence the game from the field and it’s always difficult coming off, especially in the heat of battle, they’re the moments you’re training all year for.
“They’re the moments when you want to be in there helping your team-mates and friends out, so no, it’s never easy. “Time’s a good healer but it’s just back to the drawing board and on to the next one for us now,” concluded Seamus.
And that’s what it is now, it will back to their clubs and over the coming weeks, they will do battle with each other in the county championship before coming back together and going at it again.
And they will, but for now, the wait goes on.