Cork v Limerick: Rebels' fightback heartens Ryan

"I thought we defended manfully in the second half, Limerick only scored six points."
Cork v Limerick: Rebels' fightback heartens Ryan

The Cork hurlers before their league victory over Limerick at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

The manner of Cork’s fightback in the second half – underpinned by a pair of fine goals – was the chief positive that manager Pat Ryan took from his first national league game in charge of the team.

Trailing by eight points at half-time, the Rebels drew level early in the second half and, though Limerick led as normal time expired, Cork had another push in injury time.

Ryan was naturally pleased, albeit without getting too carried away after one league match.

“In fairness, they [Limerick] got a couple of good scores and came back into it,” he says.

“Obviously, we had a bit of momentum before Robbie’s injury and that was killed when they got those scores but I thought we defended manfully in the second half, Limerick only scored six points.

“We’d two fellas making their debuts in the full-back line, Conor [O’Callaghan] and Eoin [Downey], and I thought they were outstanding, along with all of the rest of them.

“It was great to get the win in the end, but we move on now next week to Galway.”

The goals, scored by Robbie O’Flynn and Declan Dalton, were key in eroding Limerick’s interval advantage and that was an area Cork had looked to improve on after the first half.

“Yeah, that’s what we wanted to improve on,” Ryan said.

“Hoggy [Patrick] turned his man in the first half going straight through. “Robbie O’Flynn had another great opportunity that just missed the post and he got the same opportunity in the second half and he took it.

“If we want to be doing anything this year, we have to be doing three or four goals in every match. We got two today and we would like to be getting another one if we can.”

Dalton’s goal, to tie the match at 2-11 to 0-17, was a prime example of the workrate Ryan is demanding of the squad.

“Declan emptied the tank for us,” he said.

“He worked really, really hard. Probably would have preferred to have been on more ball and get more opportunities for scores. But he got his opportunity, really fought hard for that ball and got a fantastic goal and gave us more momentum to get us back into the game.

“We missed a couple of scoring opportunities after that as well. But look there is stuff we can work on going forward and look obviously we park this game and move to Galway.”

Ideally, Cork will avoid an eight-point half-time deficit in Salthill, but even that was slightly misleading in terms of the first half as a whole.

“We had 15 shots in the first half, they had 14,” Ryan said.

“I think everybody could see that we had five or six really handy wides but that’s this time of the year.

“We let them get a run on us and probably didn’t work hard enough for that six minutes – we were probably waiting for the whistle to go at half-time and you can’t do that at senior inter-county level, especially against the likes of Limerick.

“They’re past masters in the last couple of minutes of each half, whether it’s the first half or the second half. They get a bulk of their scores and they’ve won a lot of games like that, they show great mentality but our fellas stuck at it in the second half and we’re delighted.”

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