Limerick lay down a marker as Cork hurlers' unbeaten run ends

Rebels were off the pace from the throw-in at the Gaelic Grounds
Limerick lay down a marker as Cork hurlers' unbeaten run ends

Cork’s Conor Cahalane reacts to a missed chance in Saturday's Allianz HL Division 1 Group A loss to Limerick at the LIT Gaelic Grounds. Picture:: Inpho/James Crombie

Limerick 0-33 Cork 2-19

CORK fell to their first defeat in Division 1 Group of the Allianz Hurling League as All-Ireland champions Limerick earned their first win of the campaign at the LIT Gaelic Grounds on Saturday night.

The visitors never led at any stage during the match and endured a difficult evening at times but there were some bright spots, not least the fact that they outgoaled their opponents for the fourth successive game. Against that was the fact that Limerick had 14 more white flags.

The team released on Friday night included ten changes from the side which had such a comfortable victory over Westmeath a fortnight ago, but the loss of Alan Cadogan brought that figure to 11, with Tadgh Deasy coming in for his first start.

Giving up so much experience to a Limerick side that featured nine of the side which started last December’s All-Ireland final, it was always going to be tough for the young Cork side and so it proved. The opening eight minutes brought six points for the home side to just one for Cork. Though a flurry of an unanswered 1-2 had Cork level in the 12th minute after Jack O’Connor’s goal, Limerick responded with five points on the trot before the first-half water-break. An 0-11 to 1-3 advantage at that stage had a definitive look and by half-time John Kiely’s side were 0-20 to 1-7 ahead.

Even so, as strong as Limerick were, Cork helped them to some extent with cheap giveaways as they looked to play their way out of defence with short passes. When goalkeeper Patrick Collins did go long, Diarmaid Byrnes in the Limerick half-back line was enjoying aerial supremacy. 

Nevertheless, Cork do deserve a modicum of credit for sticking with the game-plan rather than panicking – it didn’t necessarily work on the night but the lessons taken from the game could stand to them later in the summer.

Limerick took control from the off and they had had two scoreable wides before Aaron Gillane put them in front from a free. That was added to by a William O’Donoghue point and though Damien Cahalane got Cork off the mark with a good point, Gillane, Byrnes and Cian Lynch (two) stretched Limerick’s lead to 0-6 to 0-1 by the eighth minute.

Eventually, Cork did manage to get some fluency and Shane Kingston’s point was followed by a nice score from Conor Cahalane, set up by Mark Coleman. Then, in the 12th minute, a fine move saw Daire Connery, Robbie O’Flynn and Coleman link to give Conor Cahalane a sight of goal. He went for the target and, while the ball came back off the crossbar, Jack O’Connor was there to sweep the loose ball to the net.

Amazingly, the sides were level, 0-6 to 1-3, but it was the last time such a situation would pertain. A pair of fine Peter Casey points put Limerick in front again and Tom Morrissey extended the lead before two excellent scores from wing-back Colin Coughlan. That made it 0-11 to 1-3, a better reflection of the flow of the game, and it was telling that Cork didn’t have their first wide until the 17th minute, just before the water-break.

Cork's Niall O'Leary in action against Limerick's Tom Morrissey. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cork's Niall O'Leary in action against Limerick's Tom Morrissey. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

After action resumed, Cork needed a good Patrick Collins save to deny Conor Boylan’s kicked effort but Limerick’s firepower was impossible to repel and they had nine different scorers by the time Alan Kelly sounded the half-time whistle, ten points separating the sides.

CHANGES

Cork made changes at the break, with Niall Cashman, Luke Meade and Patrick Horgan summoned from the bench while Shane Barrett also saw action in the third quarter. The Rebels had the first three points, through Horgan, Robbie O’Flynn and O’Connor, though the latter’s effort really should have been a goal.

Limerick reasserted themselves, though Shane Kingston was unlucky not to get a second Cork goal on 52, his shot beating Barry Hennessy only for Richie English to make a miraculous block on the line. They did find the net again just before the water break, with O’Connor profiting from a good diagonal delivery by debutant Ger Millerick as he sent a batted effort to the net from a tight angle.

Even so, that only cut the deficit to the same 10-point margin that had existed at half-time, 0-27 to 2-11, but three Horgan frees left eight in it. That was as close as Cork came, with between the sides at the end. Those in the Cork camp will hope that things will be much different on July 3.

Scorers for Limerick: A Gillane 0-10 (0-9 f), T Morrissey, C Lynch 0-4 each, D Byrnes 0-3 (0-1 f, 0-1 65), C O’Neill, C Coughlan, P Ryan, P Casey 0-2 each, B Nash, W O’Donoghue, D O’Donovan, A Breen 0-1 each.

Cork: P Horgan 0-9 (0-6 f, 0-2 65), J O’Connor 2-1, M Coleman (f), D Dalton (f), S Kingston 0-2 each, R O’Flynn, D Cahalane, C Cahalane 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: B Hennessy; R English, S Finn, B Nash; D Byrnes, D Hannon, C Coughlan; W O’Donoghue, D O’Donovan; T Morrissey, C Lynch, C Boylan; P Ryan, A Gillane, P Casey.

Subs: J Boylan for Finn (49), C O’Neill for C Boylan (55), D O’Connell for Ryan, A Breen for Casey (both 59), R Hanley for O’Donovan (65), G Mulcahy for Gillane, R Connolly for Hannon (both 67),

CORK: P Collins; N O’Leary, D Cahalane, S O’Leary Hayes; G Millerick, M Coleman, R Downey; B Hennessy, D Connery; C Cahalane, S Kingston, R O’Flynn; T Deasy, D Dalton, J O’Connor.

Subs: N Cashman for Downey, L Meade for Downey, P Horgan for Dalton (all half-time), S Barrett for O’Flynn (49), S Twomey for Deasy (58), A Connolly for Kingston (67), C O’Brien for D Cahalane (70).

Referee: A Kelly (Galway).

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