Cork reached a seventh consecutive EirGrid Munster U21FC final in a row at Páirc Uí Rinn on Wednesday night, but got a tough test from Limerick.
While the Rebels were six points ahead on the scoreboard at the end, the game wasn’t safe until sub Michael Hurley scored their second goal at the very end, giving him a personal tally of 1-3 for the game.
Prior to that, Limerick – who had led by 0-9 to 1-4 at half-time – had stayed in touch but their scoring rate dropped considerably in the second half, a consequence of playing extra time in last week’s win over Tipperary.
The visitors had started brilliantly and, despite an early Maidhcí O’Duinnín goal for Cork, it was 0-6 to 1-1 for Limerick early in the second quarter, with Hugh Bourke and Brian Donovan prominent in attack.
While Brian Coakley pulled a point back for Cork, it was responded to by a nice AJ O’Connor score and the same player might then have opened up a five-point lead from a penalty but Ross Donovan saved brilliantly from him.
Hurley, who, along with captain Seán O’Donoghue, had been introduced as Cork sought a turnaround, had a point for Cork before the break with Gary Murphy also on target to reduce the gap to a point, but Bourke’s fourth left Limerick two ahead at the break.
Within seven minutes of the second half starting, Cork were ahead, with Coakley (two) and Stephen Sherlock scoring, but Bourke tied matters again.
A lovely curling effort from Sherlock restored Cork’s lead and Hurley added two more as they eased ahead. Limerick might have had a penalty shout for a challenge on Donovan before Hurley made it 1-10 to 0-10, but the senior star settled matters in injury time after Seán Powter set him up.
Scorers for Cork: M Hurley (1-3), B Coakley (0-4, 2 frees), M Ó Duinnín (1-0), S Sherlock (0-2, 1 free), G Murphy (0-1).
Scorers for Limerick: H Bourke (0-5, frees), B Donovan (0-2), R Hayes (free), K Daly, AJ O’Connor (0-1 each).
CORK: R Donovan (Nemo Rangers); S Daly (Dohenys), J Mullins (Éire Óg), S Wilson (Douglas); J O’Riordan (Carbery Rangers), A Browne (Newmarket), C Kiely (Ballincollig); E Lavers (Dohenys), S O’Leary (Bantry Blues); B Coakley (Carrigaline), S Powter (Douglas), D Meaney (St Michael’s); G Murphy (Castletownbere), M Ó Duinnín (Naomh Abán), S Sherlock (St Finbarr’s).
Subs: M Hurley (Castlehaven) for Meaney (22), S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra) for O’Leary (28), L O’Donovan (Clonakilty) for Ó Duinnín (half-time), S O’Donovan (Ilen Rovers) for Sherlock (56), M Buckley (Dohenys) for Coakley (60).
LIMERICK: R Hayes (St Senan’s); E Sheehy (Granagh-Ballingarry), M Donovan (Galbally), D Connolly (Adare); R Childs (Galtee Gaels), C Flanagan (Crecora), B Fanning (Pallasgreen); J Liston (Gerald Griffins), T Childs (Galtee Gaels); P de Brún (Firies, Kerry), S Murphy (Newcastlewest), B Donovan (Monaleen); K Daly (Na Piarsaigh), AJ O’Connor (Newcastlewest), H Bourke (Adare).
Subs: S Stack (Newcastlewest) for de Brún (46), M Connolly (Adare) for O’Connor (51), S Brosnan (Newcastlewest) for Flanagan (56).
Referee: R Hickey (Clare)