Brian Hayes's late winner sends Cork into Munster Hurling League final

Rebels finish well to get the better of Limerick at Páirc Uí Rinn
Brian Hayes's late winner sends Cork into Munster Hurling League final

Tempers flare between Limerick's Shane O'Brien and Rob Downey of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

Cork 0-20 Limerick 1-16

BRIAN Hayes scored the 74th-minute winner as Cork overcame Limerick at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday to reach the Co-op SuperStores Munster Hurling League final.

After a win over Kerry in the opening game, the Rebels knew that another victory would send them through to the decider, with Tipperary emerging from the opposite group.

Pat Ryan’s side led for much of the first half but looked to have lost their grip on the game as the All-Ireland champions moved into a three-point lead during the second period. However, poor shooting was costly for Limerick – the final wides tally was 15-7 – and Cork scored five of the last six points to win.

Cork had a good start, moving into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 13th minute as Limerick struggled to take advantage of scoring opportunities from frees – the Shannonsiders had eight wayward efforts in total in the first half, five from dead balls.

Conor Lehane had two of those early Cork points while Brian O’Sullivan showed up well at midfield and Ciarán Joyce brought an assuredness at centre-back. Conor Cahalane, set up by Robert Downey and Brian Hayes, opened up that three-point advantage but Limerick bounced back well.

Cork’s Shane Barrett in action against Aaron Costello of Limerick in the Co-op SuperStores Munster Hurling League game at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Inpho/Evan Treacy
Cork’s Shane Barrett in action against Aaron Costello of Limerick in the Co-op SuperStores Munster Hurling League game at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Inpho/Evan Treacy

After David Reidy provided the assist for Shane O’Brien to score his first point, the visitors moved in front for the first time as a delivery from Darragh O’Donovan, intended for Oisín O’Reilly at the edge of the square, travelled all the way to the net.

To Cork’s credit, the response was strong. A good diagonal ball by Joyce allowed Cormac Beausang to get a point before O’Sullivan provided the build-up play for a nice Hayes score to put them back in front.

A Downey turnover allowed Joyce to place Lehane for his third and they were three in front again, 0-8 to 1-2, as a move involving Conor O’Callaghan and Shane Barrett ended with Luke Meade pointing.

In keeping with the back-and-forth nature, Limerick tied the game again through Aidan O’Connor, Shane O’Brien and David Reidy (free), though further chances were wasted.

Again, Cork opened up a lead, Beausang and Lehane on target, with O’Connor and Rediy levelling once more but Lehane’s fifth in injury time sent Cork in with an 0-11 to 1-7 advantage.

Limerick were much improved in the second half, establishing a dominance on their own puck-outs and Cork’s. After the first four points after the restart were evenly shared with frees from Lehane and Reidy, the visitors pieced together a five-point burst.

Three of the scores were frees from the improved Reidy, who also claimed a Cork puckout to lay on a point for Oisín O’Reilly while Barry Murphy also got in on the act.

That gave them their biggest lead of the game up to that point, though Brian Hayes did have a goal attempt blocked as Cork sought an immediate response. The margin was halved as Hayes set up Barrett and then Lehane had his eighth.

After Reidy scored his ninth to make it 1-15 to 0-15, Cork went close to a goal again, Hayes denied by goalkeeper David McCarthy, three Lehane points on the trot tied the match by the 65th minute.

Limerick sub Conor O’Grady put them back in front as Cork wasted opportunities but Lehane’s 12th point drew them level. Tom Morrissey and Shane O’Brien might have won it for Limerick but instead Hayes popped up a point and, with O’Grady missing a late chance of an equaliser, the Rebels prevailed.

Limerick's Mark Quinlan is pushed to the ground by Luke Meade of Cork in the game at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Inpho/Evan Treacy
Limerick's Mark Quinlan is pushed to the ground by Luke Meade of Cork in the game at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Inpho/Evan Treacy

Scorers for Cork: C Lehane 0-12 (0-7 f, 0-1 65), C Beausang, B Hayes 0-2 each, L Meade, S Barrett, C Cahalane, B O’Sullivan 0-1 each.

Limerick: D Reidy 0-9 f, D O’Donovan 1-0, S O’Brien, A O’Connor 0-2 each, O O’Reilly, B Murphy, C O’Grady 0-1 each.

CORK: P Collins (Ballinhassig); C O’Callaghan (Dromtarriffe), R Downey (Glen Rovers), S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra); C Cormack (Blackrock), C Joyce (Castlemartyr), C O’Brien (Newtownshandrum); T O’Connell (Midleton), B O’Sullivan (Kanturk); C Cahalane (St Finbarr’s), C Lehane (Midleton), L Meade (Newtownshandrum); C Beausang (Midleton), B Hayes (St Finbarr’s), S Barrett (Blarney).

Subs: S Quirke (Midleton) for O’Sullivan (half-time), P Horgan (Glen Rovers) for Meade, B Roche for Cahalane (both 52), D Dalton (Fr O’Neills) for Barrett (57), C Walsh (Kanturk) for O’Connell (62), E Downey (Glen Rovers) for Quirke (64, injured).

LIMERICK: D McCarthy; R English, F O’Connor, A Costello; M Quinlan, D Morrissey, C Barry; D O’Donovan, R Hanley; A O’Connor, D Reidy, T Morrissey; S O’Brien, B Murphy, O O’Reilly.

Subs: R Duff for Hanley, M Houlihan for O’Connor (both 53), R Connolly for Barry (57), J Quilty for O’Connor, D O’Connell for O’Reilly (both 62), C O’Grady for O’Donovan (64).

Referee: J Mullins (Clare).

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