EOIN CONWAY was the scoring hero as Cork narrowly prevailed against Limerick after extra-time in the Munster IHC semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
The Fr O’Neill’s player pounced for an 80th-minute goal after a strong run by Michael O’Sullivan that dragged Cork back into contention and then in the 81st minute, Conway popped up to fire over the winning point.
It was fitting that Conway should get the vital scores as he struck an impressive 1-12 tally.
It was rough justice for a gallant Limerick side. Full-back Ed Kiely, centre-back Richie McCarthy and centre-forward Michael Noonan all impressed but they were crestfallen at the final whistle.
Cork began brightly to lead 0-7 to 0-3 by the 15th minute. Conway’s freetaking was on the mark from the off while full-forward Mark Harrington showed up well with two neat points. The match took a significant turn in the 16th minute when Cork attacker Brian Lawton was dismissed for a second yellow card and Limerick’s cause was further boosted when Noonan tapped over a free and Liam Costello got on the end of a long ball to bundle to the net in the 19th minute.
The teams traded points from there until the break and it took a Tommy O’Brien score to just edge Limerick in front 1-8 to 0-10 at the interval.
By the end of the third quarter Limerick held a 1-12 to 0-13 lead with substitute Paudie Leahy, Gary Murphy and Don Hanley grabbing fine points. Cork fought back with Conway, Danny O’Callaghan and Harrington nudging them 0-16 to 1-12 ahead with ten minutes remaining. But when Noonan stayed calm to slot over a free for Limerick in the 59th minute, it was the Shannonsiders who held a 1-15 to 0-17 advantage.
But Cork got one last shot at redemption in the 61st minute when Conway made no mistake with a free to force extra-time.
Limerick’s hopes of success looked to be dashed in the 62nd minute when Noonan was shown a red card and Cork, restored to 15 men for extra-time, powered ahead.
Conway, O’Sullivan and Colm Casey sent them into a 0-21 to 1-15 lead. Limerick hit back with a brilliant individual goal by Quaid in the 69th minute, yet the scoring efforts of Mark Harrington ensured Cork led 0-23 to 2-16 at the break.
Limerick looked to struck a decisive blow when Crawford grabbed their third goal in the 77th minute, but it was Conway’s late scoring burst that swung this match in Cork’s favour. They advance to face Waterford in the provincial decider on July 22.
Scorers for Cork: E Conway 1-12 (0-8f, 0-1 ‘65), M Harrington 0-5, B Corry, D O’Callaghan 0-2 each, J Halbert, C Casey, M O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Limerick: M Noonan 0-7 (0-7f), T Quaid 1-1, L Costello, T Crawford 1-0 each, D Hanley, R McCarthy (0-2f), P Leahy 0-2 each, T O’Brien, P Harty, G Murphy 0-1 each
CORK: D McCarthy; E Clancy, K Lane, B Coleman; S White, K Hartnett, T Healy; D O’Callaghan, B Fitzgerald; E Conway, B Corry, B Lawton; M Harrington, M O’Sullivan, J Halbert.
Subs: M Collins for Fitzgerald (inj) (5), M Ellis for White (44), B Cooper for Halbert (48), C Casey for Collins (48), D Hayes for Lane (60), S White for Clancy (70), A O’Brien for O’Callaghan (76).
LIMERICK: A Murphy; M Keane, E Kiely, C Noonan; D Aherne, R McCarthy, J Riordan; J Dillon, D Hanley; G Murphy, M Noonan, T Quaid; P Harty, T O’Brien, L Costello.
Subs: D Moloney for Aherne (19), P Leahy for O’Brien (36), W Griffin for Costello (49), D Quaid for Murphy (56), C Kearney for Dillon (65), D Aherne for Noonan (73), T Crawford for Harty (73).
Referee: Seamus Roche (Tipperary)