Cork 1-24 Limerick 1-14
Cork reached a first Electric Ireland Munster MHC final since 2017 as a tally of 1-14 from Jack Leahy helped them to a ten-point win over Limerick at Semple Stadium on Tuesday evening.
While they trailed early on, the Rebels got on top approaching the first-half water-break and had established a 12-point lead in the second half before a late Limerick goal. They will now face Waterford in the decider on Monday, August 9.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the 40-point quarter-final win over Clare - in which Leahy scored 3-9 - Cork struggled to get to the pitch of the game immediately, shooting three wides in the first eight minutes as Limerick forged a 0-3 to 0-1 lead, with two points from Shane O’Brien and one from Joe Fitzgerald, named at corner-back but operating at midfield, having followed Rory Sheahan.
But for stout defending by Kevin Lyons and Ben O’Connor, both of whom were imperious in the air, Cork might have fallen further behind, but slowly they settled and Tadhg O’Connell used his pace to good effect as he landed a smart 14th-minute point to cut the deficit to one, 0-4 to 0-3.
Though O’Brien replied with a Limerick free, Cork would landed seven of the next eight points as they seized firm control of the game. Having tied the game at 0-5 each just before the water-break, they had the lead for the first time as Ben Nyhan’s shot flashed over following an O’Connell turnover and then O’Connell benefited from Leahy’s aerial win to grab his second.
O’Brien briefly interrupted the flow with his fourth but Cork were moving fluidly now as Leahy landed a free following a foul on the effervescent O’Connell and then Eoin O’Leary won the ball from the Limerick puckout, allowing Diarmuid Healy to get his second point.
Two Leahy frees had Cork 0-11 to 0-6 in front and by half-time it was 0-13 to 0-7, the final point coming from O’Leary after O’Connor had charged out of defence and intelligently picked out a diagonal pass to the right corner.
O’Brien and Paddy Kennedy did have early second-half points for Limerick, sandwiching Leahy’s eighth of the night, but four on the trot from Cork, Healy with his third and three from Leahy, opened up a nine-point lead, 0-18 to 0-9.
Limerick threatened a revival as O’Brien, Mark Riordan and sub Pierce Connery – with his first touch – all scored and Cork briefly laboured but a pair of Leahy frees before the water-break ensured there was still a cushion, 0-20 to 0-12 the lead.
O’Brien did cut that slightly with another free and then his catch and run almost led to a goal chance but Cork goalkeeper Paudie O’Sullivan did well to cut the handpass and in a flash, the importance of that intervention was magnified as Timmy Wilk’s delivery was perfect for Leahy to claim possession and deposit the ball in the net.
Wilk got a point of his own after that and then appeared to have been sent off for a challenge before referee Nicky O’Toole acknowledged that it was a yellow card he meant to show and the wing-back was allowed to continue.
Late on, goalkeeper O’Sullivan looked to have ensured a clean sheet with a late save from Riordan but Limerick wing-back David Fitzgerald did fire home a late goal. Cork had done enough, though.
Scorers for Cork: J Leahy 1-14 (0-9f, 0-1 65), D Healy 0-4, T O’Connell 0-2, E O’Leary, T Wilk, D Cremin, B Nyhan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: S O'Brien 0-7 (0-6f), D Fitzgerald 1-0, M Riordan 0-3, J Fitzgerald, C Scully, P Kennedy, P Connery 0-1 each.
CORK: P O’Sullivan (Fr O’Neills); D O’Sullivan (Ballinhassig), K Lyons (Ballygarvan), J Byrne (Ballinora); J Dwyer (Ballincollig), B O’Connor (St Finbarr’s), T Wilk (Cobh); M Finn (Midleton), C Tobin (Bride Rovers); D Healy (Lisgoold), N Nyhan (Clyda Rovers), T O’Connell (Ballincollig); E O’Leary (Glen Rovers), J Leahy (Dungourney), R Sheahan (Kanturk), O O’Regan (Erin’s Own) for Leahy (60).
Subs: A Walsh (Bride Rovers) for Nyhan (half-time), R O’Sullivan (Na Piarsaigh) for O’Leary, K Wallace (St Catherine’s) for O’Connor (both 56), D Cremin (Midleton) for Healy (59).
LIMERICK: T Lynch; J Fitzgerald, V Harrington, W Dore; D Fitzgerald, C Scully, M Fitzgibbon; C O’Carroll, L Dennehy; S O’Brien, K Ahern, P Kennedy; M Riordan, H Fox, C Hayes.
Subs: W Kearns for Fox (36), P Connery for O’Carroll (42), R O’Byrne for Hayes (51), G Rowsome for Dennehy (58), M Gavin for Ahern (60).
Referee: N O’Toole (Waterford).