Limerick 1-13 Cork 2-19
CORK made it three wins from three in Division 1 Group A of the Allianz Hurling League with what was a comfortable win over All-Ireland champions Limerick at the TUS Gaelic Grounds on Sunday afternoon.
Not since 2015 had the Rebels achieved back-to-back-to-back in the league, while they were without a win over the Shannonsiders in four games in all competitions. Last June, they had travelled to the Treaty City four points ahead of John Kiely’s side in the table only to suffer an eight-point defeat but here the visitors were sharper in almost all aspects.
They led by 2-13 to 0-5 after a rampant first half, built on unanswered scoring bursts of 1-6 and 1-4 as Limerick uncharacteristically laboured. Shane Kingston got both of the Cork goals, though he was red-carded in first half injury time for a high challenge on Seán Finn. That might have been an avenue back into the game for Limerick but Limerick’s Séamus Flanagan was sent off immediately after that for a similar foul on Seán O’Donoghue. With parity in manpower for the second half, Cork were never going to allow themselves to be overhauled, even with Limerick introducing some of their more established stars to staunch the bleeding of a first half where they had had nine wides – four of them from frees – and just three points from play.
Cork went with a strong starting 15 – ten of the side that lost to Limerick in last August’s All-Ireland final were present – and there were big performances from Darragh Fitzgibbon, Robbie O’Flynn, Mark Coleman and Seán O’Donoghue while one of the newcomers, Ciarán Joyce, showed why he has become a prominent squad member so soon, despite still being eligible for U20.
While Limerick led three times in the opening seven minutes, even then there was a sloppiness about their play. Ciarán Joyce was dropping from midfield to limit the impact of Cian Lynch at centre-forward, Ger Millerick broke up play superbly and Cork’s half-forward line were working hard to make it difficult for Limerick to build from deep.
Four Patrick Horgan points – three frees and a 65 – as well as a long-range Mark Coleman point had them 0-7 to 0-3 in front by the 16th minute and they would lead thereafter, with the advantage buttressed in the 20th minute. From a short puckout by Patrick Collins to O’Donoghue, Robbie O’Flynn sent a long ball to Horgan, who laid off to Kingston for a close-range finish.
Fitzgibbon added a point following a good turnover to make it 1-8 to 0-3 and, while Limerick had come back slightly as Darragh O’Donovan made it 1-9 to 0-5 on 24, Cork pushed on again. Conor Lehane pointed following a super catch from a Collin puckout and set one up for Fitzgibbon as Cork moved 1-12 to 0-5 in front, with the second goal coming after a puckout went through to Horgan, who fed Lehane. His shot was saved by Barry Hennessy, but Kingston was on hand to finish.
It was his last action as, after Shane Barrett got on the scoresheet, he was dismissed, but Flanagan’s departure ensured Cork didn’t suffer.
The second half, into the wind, wasn’t as fluent from a Cork point of view, but Limerick didn’t pick up their performance to the levels needed. A wides tally of nine was slightly concerning for Cork in the second period, but the introduction of Conor Cahalane was a boon around the middle while Jack O’Connor had nice moments, scoring one good point.
Ultimately, while Cork didn’t beat the first-choice Limerick team, any victory over them is a confidence boost. It was certainly an encouraging day.
C O’Neill 1-1, D Byrnes (0-3 f), D Reidy (0-2 f) 0-3 each, A Gillane 0-2 f, D O’Donovan, C Lynch, S Flanagan, G Mulcahy 0-1 each.
P Horgan 0-8 (0-6 f, 0-1 65), S Kingston 2-0, C Lehane, D Fitzgibbon, M Coleman (0-1 f), R O’Flynn 0-2 each, T O’Mahony, S Barrett, J O’Connor 0-1 each.
B Hennessy; A Costelloe, D Morrissey, S Finn; C Coughlan, D Hannon, K Hayes; D O’Donovan, R Hanley; C O’Neill, C Lynch, T Morrissey; D Reidy, S Flanagan, D O’Connell.
R English for Finn (35, temporary), D Byrnes for Coughlan, A Gillane for O’Connell, W O’Donoghue for Hanley (all half-time), G Mulcahy for Reidy (58), C Boylan for O’Neill (54).
P Collins; N O’Leary, D O’Leary, S O’Donoghue; T O’Mahony, M Coleman, C Joyce; G Millerick, D Fitzgibbon; R O’Flynn, S Barrett, M Keane; S Kingston, P Horgan, C Lehane.
C Cahalane for Keane (40), J O’Connor for Lehane (46), C O’Brien for N O’Leary (56, temporary), A Connolly for Horgan (61), S Harnedy for Barrett (64), S Twomey for O’Flynn (65).
S Stack (Dublin).