Cork 2-18 Limerick 1-12
By Brendan Larkin, Páirc Uí Chaoimh
A MARVELLOUS exhibition of point scoring by team captain Patrick Cronin powered Cork to a facile victory over Limerick in the Munster MHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
Even allowing for the weakness of the Shannonsiders, this was a powerful display by Cork and with Kilkenny out of the All-Ireland series, the Munster champions must be favourites.
Surprisingly there was no hint of this lopsided result in the opening quarter as the sides were level on four occasions, but the Limerick challenge collapsed completely after the highly impressive Cronin drove home his side’s opening goal in the 20th minute.
There was hardly any weakness in this Cork side. From goalkeeper Raymond O’Keeffe to corner forward John Halbert, the side oozed confidence, and it will take a very good team to stop them.
Defensively Cork were superb with Eoin O’Sullivan and Eoin Dillon brilliant in the full back line. Paudie O’Sullivan lorded it at centre back; Alan Brady and Peter O’Driscoll were the best of the four midfielders with Cathal Naughton equally as good when moved out after Brady was forced off with a hand injury.
Up front the Cork attack gave the Limerick defence a torrid time with Cronin, Patrick Horgan and Peter O’Brien the pick of the bunch. The visitors were a huge disappointment. After giving a highly rated Tipperary side a right trouncing in the semi-final, much was expected of them, but they had no answer to a far superior Cork side and only David Moloney, Diarmuid O’Sullivan and Eoin Ryan were up to the mark.
There was little to choose between the teams in the opening quarter, at the end of which they were level four times. Perhaps the intense heat had something to do with it, but the game lacked any real sparkle.
However it got a badly needed injection in the 20th minute when Patrick Cronin plucked Paudie O’Sullivan’s long range free out of the air before billowing the Limerick net from close range, and there was an air of inevitability about the outcome even with another 40 odd minutes to play.
Cronin sparkled in the Cork attack and he rifled over a superb long range point as the defending champions began to lord it in most sectors and at the short whistle they were full value for their 1-7 to 0-5 lead.
In an effort to try and curb the Cork captain, Limerick switched their centre back David Moloney over on him but to no avail as Cronin continued to weave his magic with another brace of points and the visitors were given a mountain to climb.
However a highly rated Cork team began to pick off points with monotonous regularity as the Limerick challenge crumbled in the face of the home side’s undoubted class.
Their goose was well and truly cooked when Patrick Horgan blasted home a marvellous second goal after a great run.
It was game, set and match for Cork after that and while Limerick did manage a couple of late scores, including a goal from a penalty by their best forward Eoin Ryan, they only served to put a more respectable look on the final scoreline.
Scorers: Cork: P. Cronin 1-10 (0-6 frees); P. Horgan 1-2; P. O’Brien, C. Naughton 0-2 each; J. Halbert, E. Murphy 0-1 each. Limerick: E. Ryan 1-8 (1-4 frees); D. Moore, J. Kelly (free), M. Ryan, D. O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
CORK: R. O’Keeffe; E. O’Sullivan, E. Dillon, G. O’Driscoll; S. White, P. O’Sullivan, T. Murray; A. Brady, P. O’Driscoll; P. Cronin, C. Naughton; P. Horgan, E. Murphy, J. Halbert.
Subs: A. Mannix for Brady; P. Finnegan for Halbert; D. O’Callaghan for O’Brien.
LIMERICK: G. Flynn; S. Brown, L. Hurley, T. Condon; J. Kelly, D. Moloney, S. Hickey; D. Moore, D. Hanley; G. O’Mahony, J. Ryan, B. O’Sullivan; D. O’Sullivan, D. O’Connor, E. Ryan.
Subs: S. Herlihy for D. O’Connor; B. Quinn for B. O’Sullivan; M. Ryan for G. O’Mahoney.
Referee: J. Ryan (Tipperary).