Cork v Limerick: Good early start is wiped out by strong Shannonsiders

All-Ireland champions defeat Rebels in Munster opener
Cork v Limerick: Good early start is wiped out by strong Shannonsiders

Ger Millerick of Cork gets past Limerick's Graeme Mulcahy during Sunday's Munster SHC clash at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Cork 1-17 Limerick 2-25

An early five-point lead could not be built upon as Cork were beaten by Limerick at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in their Munster SHC opener on Sunday.

Though the margin of defeat was five points fewer than the 16-point reversal by the same opposition in last August’s All-Ireland final, there was a sense that, once Limerick had weathered strong Cork starts in each half, they had the measure of the Rebels. Cork must now regroup ahead of a clash with Clare in Thurles on May 1.

Cork, playing with the wind, had a dream start as Shane Kingston goaled inside 12 seconds. The corner-forward fired home a similar effort that which he got in the All-Ireland final after good play from Shane Barrett and Conor Cahalane, who was a late replacement for Séamus Harnedy.

When Barrett pointed and Patrick Horgan landed a free, Cork were 1-2 to 0-0 ahead but Limerick were never going to panic, even allowing for three wides and a shot into Patrick Collins’ hands in the opening six minutes.

They settled thanks to a trio of scores from Diarmaid Byrnes and hit the front at 1-4 to 1-3 in the 15th minute. A delivery from the impressive Gearóid Hegarty broke for Kyle Hayes – named at left half-back but playing as a roving full-forward – on the left and he worked his way in before slotting home.

It was Cork’s turn to face questions but points from Darragh Fitzgibbon, Robbie O’Flynn and Tim O’Mahony meant they led again before Horgan’s free made it 1-7 to 1-5 on 28 minutes. After Tom Morrissey pointed and then set up Hegarty to level, Horgan put Cork back in front but it was the last time they led as Aaron Gillane got off the mark with a free before finding the net on 34. Hayes was the provider but Cork were the architects of their own downfall as Tim O’Mahony went for a short pass to Seán O’Donoghue, who was turned over.

Cian Lynch, quiet up to then, made it a four-point game with a superb point, though Limerick needed a good Nickie Quaid save to deny Conor Lehane a goal in injury time after Fitzgibbon had done well.

Cork started the second half in a similar vein to the first and were level by the 38th minute. O’Flynn had a point on the restart and then Barrett’s shot was tipped just over by a superb Quaid save before Lehane added two.

Once again, though, Limerick stepped things up and they scored ten of the next 12 points to move into a lead of impregnability. Lynch had the pick of those with an amazing shot while on his knees after losing his footing and he set up another for Declan Hannon with a beautiful pass while Byrnes landed a few more from distance.

Cork sub Jack O'Connor did go close to a goal after his arrival, when a green flag would have brough the deficit back to four, but even if it had, Limerick looked like having too much.

Late concessions allowed Limerick to extend the margin to 11 points by the end – Cork will hope that that is not costly if scoring difference comes into play down the road.

Cork's Darragh Fitzgibbon and Barry Nash of Limerick. Picture: Inpho/Bryan Keane
Cork's Darragh Fitzgibbon and Barry Nash of Limerick. Picture: Inpho/Bryan Keane

Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-9 (0-8f), S Kingston 1-0, R O’Flynn, S Barrett, C Lehane 0-2 each, T O’Mahony, D Fitzgibbon 0-1 each.

Scorers for Limerick: A Gillane 1-4 (0-2f), D Byrnes 0-6 (0-3f), K Hayes 1-1, G Hegarty 0-3, B Nash, C O’Neill, C Lynch 0-2 each, D Hannon, D Morrissey, T Morrissey, P Ryan, D Reidy 0-1 each.

CORK: P Collins; N O’Leary, D Cahalane, S O’Donoghue; T O’Mahony, M Coleman, C Joyce; D Fitzgibbon, G Millerick; R O’Flynn, S Barrett, C Cahalane; C Lehane, P Horgan, S Kingston.

Subs: S Harnedy for Cahalane (half-time), R Downey for O’Donoghue (42-53, temporary), J O’Connor for Kingston, A Connolly for Barrett (both 55), L Meade for Lehane (61).

LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Finn, M Casey, B Nash; D Byrnes, D Hannon, D Morrissey; D O’Donovan, W O’Donoghue; T Morrissey, C Lynch, G Hegarty; A Gillane, K Hayes, G Mulcahy.

Subs: C O’Neill for T Morrissey (57), D Reidy for O’Donovan (60), O O’Reilly for Hayes (63), C Boylan for Hegarty, P Ryan for Mulcahy (both 69).

Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow).

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