Cork minor hurlers fail to fire as Limerick power into Munster final

Cork minor hurlers fail to fire as Limerick power into Munster final

The Cork minors hurlers were well beaten by Limerick. Picture: Larry Cummins

Limerick 2-19 Cork 0-13

NO complaints here from a Cork perspective. 

The scoreline tells the tale of how comprehensively beaten the Rebels were in this Electric Ireland Munster Minor Hurling semi-final at Semple Stadium.

Donal Óg Cusack's charges never recovered from conceding two goals inside a minute to the livewire Adam English before half-time, when they'd been leading 0-9 to 0-8 after their most productive period of the game. 

Otherwise, Cork were off the pace, swarmed up front by the tenacious Limerick rearguard. The second half was a nightmare for the young guns, outscored 0-10 to 0-3 as they chased what became a lost cause and were hounded in a series of errors.

Limerick keeper Tomás Lynch did pull off some blinding saves but the Leesiders were outworked and outhurled, despite their best efforts.

The opening 15 minutes had been nip and tuck, though aside from a neat Eoin O'Leary point from play Cork's other four scores were Ben Cunningham frees, which was worrying, and they trailed 0-6 to 0-5 at the first water-break. 

They hurled was more purpose on the resumption to be fair, excellent scores by Michael Mullins, Brian Keating and Ben O'Connor, along with a couple of frees for fouls on Colin Walsh, a better return.

The problem was goal chances for Tadhg O'Connell and Cunningham in the same sequence were saved superbly by Tomás Lynch, while in a 45-second sequence Adam English clinically stuck his two chances. The first came from a turnover which arguably should have been a free out, but English made no mistake and followed up by exploiting a mix-up on the Cork puck-out.

Given the heavy conditions and the tension, a lead of 2-9 to 0-10 was a considerable one at half-time.

Cork made three changes in attack. Jack Leahy got the first score of the second half but Limerick lanced over the next five points, and their intensity in defence saw Cork tally five wides before the second water-break. By then it was 2-15 to 0-11 and the game was only heading in one direction.

The Rebels have only managed just Munster minor title in the modern era, 2017 when they were subsequently beaten in the All-Ireland by Galway. 

This group didn't have the same mix of power and class, though they kept battling to the final whistle here. 

There was a certain pressure on them to deliver, unfairly as they're U17s, with a manager of the calibre of Donal Óg Cusack at the helm, along with Tom Kenny, Kieran 'Fraggie' Murphy and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín in the backroom.

Cork had the benefit of a game, albeit back in October, at the same venue, where they needed their bench to push on against a dogged Clare. Jack Leahy and William Buckley were lethal in the fourth quarter on that occasion. 

The same trick didn't work this time but the quality of the opposition was vastly superior, Limerick pulling from some of the team that were Munster champions in the summer of 2019.

Scorers for Limerick: A English 2-3, L Lynch 0-8 (0-7 f), P O'Donovan 0-3, L O'Connor 0-2, J Keating, S O'Brien, J Kirby 0-1 each.

Cork: B Cunningham 0-8 f, J Leahy, E O'Leary, B Keating, B O'Connor, M Mullins 0-1 each.

CORK: B Saunderson (Midleton); C Smyth (Midleton), S Kingston (Ballinora), K Lyons (Ballygarvan); E Downey (c), J Dwyer (Ballincollig), B O'Connor (St Finbarr's); B Keating (Ballincollig), A Quirke (Midleton); T O'Connell (Ballincollig), M Howell (Douglas), M Mullins (Whitechurch); B Cunningham (St Finbarr's), C Walsh (Kanturk), E O'Leary (Glen Rovers).

Subs: D Healy (Lisgoold) for O'Connell (h-t), J Leahy (Kiltha Óg) for Quirke (h-t), W Buckley (St Finbarr's) for O'Leary (36), T Walsh (Kanturk) for Dwyer (46).

LIMERICK: T Lynch; J Fitzgerald, V Harrington, R Lyons; B Molyneaux, E Hurley, S Whelan; J Kirby, B Duff; A English (c), L Lynch, S O'Brien; L O'Connor, P O'Donovan, D Lynch.

Subs: J Keating for D Lynch (inj 11), S O'Neill for Molyneaux (49), L Dennehy for O'Connor (53), N Quinn for Fitzgerald (59), E Harmon for English (60).

Referee: Kevin Jordan (Tipperary).

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