Cork is once again no match for Limerick as the All-Ireland champion crosses past the Rebels


When Cork lost the All-Ireland Final by 16 points last year, they were at least isolated by the fact that the champions had one of the greatest performances of any team on their biggest day.

This time, however, there was no such cushion in Munster SHC’s first-round match at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Limerick was often not at its best, but it didn’t have to be.

They were briefly threatened in the early stages of both halves, but with a nonchalant shrug they dusted off Cork and soon raked so far that many in the nearly full crowd got out of their seats to leave well before John Keenan’s final whistle.

After a relatively promising league, it was a disheartening afternoon for Cork as they were again plagued by indecisiveness and physically unable to match their champions.

It was another energetic performance from Limerick, with Diarmuid Byrnes leading impressively at half-back to land six points, half from play.

Manager John Kiely threw a corner ball before the start as Kyle Hayes joined David Reidy with Mike Casey, who had returned for his first league game since All-Ireland’s 2019 semi-final loss to Kilkenny, at a cost.

The move barely fazed them and when Hayes scored in the 15th minute it felt justified as he once again combined power and speed so effectively, this time from close on goal.

That goal was the platform for Limerick to lead 2-9, 1-8 at the break and while Cork took the first four points of the second half and benefited from Conor Lehane’s move to the half-attacker line, the momentum was all too tight .

Limerick raised through Cian Lynch and captain Declan Hannon, while Sean Finn was once again authoritative on defense as they broke away and edged their opponents 0-15, 0-5 from the 39th minute.

Shane Kingston had stopped Cork from a glorious start when he flashed a shot past Nicky Quaid after just 13 seconds after penetratingly processing the throw-in from Shane Barrett and Conor Cahalane.

It mirrored his early goal last year and brought the number of consecutive league or league games he has now scored against Limerick to four.

But unlike last August, Limerick’s reaction was not immediate. In fact, they were a further two points behind with no reply before Byrnes found them with a free-kick on the seventh minute which had a reassuring effect.

And in the 15th minute they were ahead for the first time when Hayes charged for that goal and turned sharply after collecting William O’Donoghue’s ball from behind cover before accelerating clearly. The angle was tight, similar to his goal against Cork at last year’s Munster Championship, but he got the hang of it at this stage and hopped the shot far enough ahead of Patrick Collins to not give him a chance and make it 1-4 to 1- 3 lead.

Just a minute earlier, Aaron Gillane had a half-chance which Collins equalized when he too made ground uncontrollably and you could see the pressure on Cork starting to mount.

But they persevered and actually retook the lead through Tim O’Mahony and a Patrick Horgan who was leading 1-7 to 1-5 freely.

But Gearoid Hegarty became imperious with every game and he leveled them, 1-7 each, after Tom Morrissey finally found his range after hitting three wides.

Horgan briefly gave Cork the lead again from a free kick which was quickly canceled by Gillane after a foul on Hegarty and then there was a moment of indecision, or maybe moments of indecision when Sean O’Donoghue was caught in possession and Hayes removed and Gillane’s pass was set for a second Limerick goal, a real punch in the stomach for the home side.

Lynch followed up with his first point and when Lehane was thwarted from close range just before half-time after being set up by Darragh Fitzgibbon, it felt like Cork was running out of ideas.

They tussled briefly at half-time, but the rift between these teams was as obvious as ever.

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

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

Limerick: N Quaid; Finn S, Nash B, Casey M; D Byrnes, D Hannon, D Morrissey; D O’Donovan, W O’Donoghue; G Hegarty, C Lynch, T Morrissey; G Mulcahy, K Hayes, A Gillane. Subtitle: C O’Neill for T Morrissey (56), D Reidy for O’Donovan (60), O O’Reilly for Hayes (63), C Boylan for Hegarty (68), P Ryan for Mulcahy ( 68).

cork:PCollins; S O’Donoghue, D Cahalane, N O’Leary; T O’Mahony, M Coleman, C Joyce; D Fitzgibbon, G Millerick; R O’Flynn, S Barrett, C Cahalane; S Kingston, P Horgan, C Lehane. Substitutes: S. Harnedy for C. Cahalane (ht), R. Downey for O’Donoghue temporary (41-53), R. Downey for D. Cahalane (53rd), J. O’Connor for Kingston (55th) , A. Connolly for Barrett (55th), L Meade for Lehane (60th)

Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow) Cork is once again no match for Limerick as the All-Ireland champion crosses past the Rebels

Fry Electronics Team

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