Donal Óg Cusack: Same issues as Croke Park loss cost the Rebels here

RTE pundits feel Cork will have to improve hugely to get out of the Munster championship
Donal Óg Cusack: Same issues as Croke Park loss cost the Rebels here

Limerick's Kyle Hayes scores his goal past Cork goalkeeper Patrick Collins during the Munster SHC at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

RTÉ’s TV panel were full of praise for John Kiely’s All-Ireland winning team following Limerick’s Munster SHC hammering of Cork on Easter Sunday.

In a repeat of the 2021 All-Ireland final, the reigning champions registered a first championship victory over the Leesiders at Páirc Uí Chaoimh since 2001. Limerick were full value for it. 

Outscored 0-16 to 0-5 during the closing 35 minutes, Kieran Kingston could have no issue with the outcome. Neither did any of RTÉ’s TV panel for the opening round of the Munster championship.

Former Limerick stalwart Shane Dowling pointed out the 2-16 his native county garnered from turnovers and paid tribute to the work completed by the county’s management team since this year’s disappointing league campaign.

“When Limerick sat down at the start of the years did they and say we want to win three-in-a-row? No,” Dowling commented.

“The first thing they had to address was the league in which they were very bad. John (Kiely) said it, the boys said it, they are human, they know the story. They have put in a huge four weeks to get out on that pitch today. For any of those players to be even thinking about All-Irelands four weeks ago, they would have been miles off.

“They didn’t go out to lose any (league) games. They were in a different place compared to other teams were. Limerick had to put in a really heavy block while other teams had that work done six or eight weeks previous.” An 11-point gap at full time was highlighted and how poorly Cork fared in the second half of a Munster championship encounter that failed to ignite.

“It is a huge gap,” former Cork All-Ireland winner Donal Óg Cusack admitted.

“Last September (All-Ireland final) was mentioned and the most worrying thing for themselves is that a lot of the same issues in Croke Park that day appeared out here (Páirc Uí Chaoimh) again today. Defensively-wise, Cork has a huge issues with the centre of their defence.

I know Gearoid Hegarty was outstanding today but the amount of time he had on the ball. He could nearly have polished the ball before letting it into the Limerick forwards.

“In attack, Cork simply didn’t have enough movement. Cork were trying to work the ball out and one of the reasons they were getting into so much trouble in that middle third, as we could see, it that the movement of the Cork forward-line was very limited.

“This wasn’t the same beating Cork got last year. Obviously, there was a couple of points difference, but it was not far off it to be honest.” 

All eyes on Cork's Patrick Horgan as he takes a free. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
All eyes on Cork's Patrick Horgan as he takes a free. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Former All-Ireland winner Anthony Daly pointed to next weekend’s crucial set of fixtures. Daly believes Tipperary versus Clare plus Limerick and Waterford’s eagerly-anticipated clash is proof positive that the Munster championship is alive and well.

“Well, we are sitting nicely in third place in the table so we will take that (laughs),” Daly quipped.

“Next weekend’s Tipperary and Clare is a winner-take-all match now really. Tipp will be in huge bother if they don’t win it. It is a massive game and Clare versus Cork the following week is the same.

“So it is all to play for. Things have been predictable so far. The two Munster teams everyone is fancying to come out have their business done this weekend.” 

“As a Limerick man I am very happy and somewhat relieved tonight,” Dowling added.

“The biggest thing for me today was would the hunger be there? Very simple statistics for me is that Limerick scored 2-25, got 2-20 from open play and 2-16 from turnovers. A team that isn’t hungry won’t get 2-16 from turnovers. Limerick showed out there today that they are well up for the challenge this year.

“It is great for Limerick moving on to a huge game in the Gaelic Grounds against Waterford next weekend.”

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