Limerick put a disappointing Division 1B campaign behind them to overcome Cork and secure a league semi-final berth, writes Eoghan Cormican, Páirc Uí Rinn.
The Treaty County could only manage third in the second tier but they made little of their league standing and three unanswered points at the death was to prove the crucial spell of the game.
The teams were level five times in the second period as a brace of Shane Dowling frees and three from play by man of the match Gearoid Hegarty were countered by points from Patrick Horgan (0-5), Seamus Harnedy (0-2) and Bill Cooper.
That left it tied at 1-17 apiece with three minutes remaining and it was the visitors who would push on, Kyle Hayes, Hegarty and sub John Fitzgibbon firing the winning scores.
The sides went in level at the break, but it is arguable that both would have been disappointed not to have been in front.
Limerick opened much the brighter and a David Dempsey goal on 11 minutes, followed as it was by a point from his namesake Alan in the ensuing play, had the visitors 1-4 to 0-2 clear. And full value they were for their five-point advantage.
Between there and the 28th minute, though, they’d only hit one point – Cian Lynch punishing poor defensive play on the quarter hour. There followed five unanswered Cork points to bring proceedings level at 1-5 to 0-8.
On 26 minutes, the home side surged ahead. Lorcán McLoughlin played an absolute peach of a ball along the floor to put Luke Meade inside the cover and the young Newcestown forward duly obliged, even if Nickie Quaid got a stick to the shot.
Kieran Kingston’s charges had chances to open up a more substantial gap but two Patrick Horgan wides and a Bill Cooper effort which hit the post stunted their dominance.
The closing passages of the half belonged to the Trearty men as three from the stick of Shane Dowling and a Gearoid Hegarty white flag brought John Kiely’s men back on level footing.
P Horgan (0-8, 0-7 frees); L Meade (1-1); S Harnedy (0-3); M Coleman (0-1 ‘65), A Cadogan (0-2 each); A Nash (0-1 free), B Cooper (0-1 each)
S Dowling (0-9, 0-8 frees); G Hegarty (0-4); D Dempsey (1-1); K Hayes, C Lynch (0-2 each); A Dempsey, J Fitzgibbon (0-1 each)
A Nash; S McDonnell, D Griffin, C Spillane; C Joyce, M Ellis, M Coleman; L McLoughlin, D Brosnan; B Cooper, S Harnedy, L Meade; A Cadogan, P Horgan, D Fitzgibbon.
B Lawton for Griffin (HT); M Cahalane for Fitzgibbon (42); D Keaney for Brosnan (54); L O’Farrell for Fitzgibbon (70)
N Quaid; R English, R McCarthy, M Casey; D Byrnes, D Hannon, S Hickey; W O’Donoghue, A Dempsey; S Dowling, D Dempsey, G Hegarty; G Mulcahy, K Hayes, C Lynch.
B Nash for D Dempsey (50); P Ryan for A Dempsey (50); P Casey for Mulcahy (52); J Fitzgibbon for O’Donoghue (61); G O’Mahony for Hannon (63)
F Horgan (Tipperary).