By Michael Moynihan
Cork 0-18 Limerick 3-17
There was victory for Limerick today in the Munster senior hurling league clash in Mallow, a venue increasingly unlikely to be mistaken for Capistrano, given the weather.
Conditions militated against fluent hurling, as they have done for some weeks now, but Cork and Limerick served up an enjoyable game for the 1,185 present.
Limerick's three crucial goals are likely to be overshadowed in the minds of those present, however, by manager TJ Ryan's confirmation at the final whistle that former captain Donal O'Grady has retired from intercounty activity.
“What a fantastic player and what a fantastic servant to Limerick hurling. A brilliant captain, he got what he deserved a couple of years ago winning the Munster championship for Limerick,” said TJ Ryan.
“I just want to pay tribute to him. He’s been one of our better players.
“I’d like to wish him all the best. He was a great leader for us and all round, off the pitch, on the field, he’s been inspirational for Limerick hurling.”
Limerick had the breeze in the first half and used it well. They enjoyed an early lead, Declan Hannon hitting three frees and Cian Lynch and Graeme Mulcahy pointing from play - two good Patrick Cronin points were Cork's answer: 0-5 to 0-2 on 10 minutes.
The scoring rate dropped then, Conor Lehane hitting a Cork point, with Lynch and Mulcahy replying. Those Limerick players then combined for a fine goal, a superb Lynch pass freeing Mulcahy, who finished emphatically. A Hannon point just afterwards made it 1-8 to 0-3 on 20 minutes.
As the breeze strengthened, Limerick added a Lynch point before Paudie O'Sullivan (free) and William Leahy hit Cork points. Home 'keeper Anthony Nash had to look smart to deny Hannon at his near post or the margin would have been greater.
As the half drew to a conclusion Cork were whittling away at the Limerick lead with O'Sulllivan (two frees) and William Leahy points, but a late Hannon free made it 0-7 to 1-11 at the break.
Cork restarted with points from Lehane, O'Sullivan, Leahy and sub. Patrick Horgan in the opening four minutes of the second half.
Limerick struggled to make headway against the wind as Cork had before half-time, but they managed a Hannon free ten minutes in to keep themselves that goal clear. Then a terrific David Reidy run opened up the Cork defence - Reidy placed Hannon close to goal, and he netted, giving Limerick a two-goal advantage.
Cork hit back with points from Cronin, O'Sullivan (65) and Paul Haughney; Limerick's Paul Ryan hit a good point from distance, making it 2-13 to 0-15 at the end of the third quarter.
With the game up for grabs a sharpness came into the exchanges, but Limerick had a decisive intervention - Paul Ryan made ground down the right before passing to Darragh O'Donovan, who goaled; Lehane's point on the resumption made it 3-14 to 0-16, but Cork needed a goal to have any chance of winning, and that goal never came.
A scramble for the ball! Clare and Waterford players fight it out for the ball pic.twitter.com/JtVtuBoEEo— Sportsfile (@sportsfile) January 17, 2016
Meanwhile in Carriganore, Clare beat Waterford 1-20 to 1-9.
Colin Ryan (0-5) and John Conlon (0-4) dominated the first half scoring as Clare opened up a nine point halfway lead (1-12 to 1-3). Midfielder David Reidy got the Clare goal, while last year’s county minor Andy Molumby replied for Waterford.
2013 hurler of the year Tony Kelly made his entrance at half time as the Banner pulled away.
Scorers for Cork: Paudie O'Sullivan (1 65, 5 frees) (0-7); P. Cronin (0-4); C. Lehane (0-3); W. Leahy (0-2), P. Haughney, P. Horgan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Limerick: D. Hannon (0-1 65, 0-7 ffs) (1-9); G. Mulcahy (1-2); D. O'Donovan (1-0), C. Lynch (0-3); P. Ryan, D. Reidy, P. Browne (0-1) each.
CORK: A. Nash, Pat O'Sullivan, P. O'Mahony, C. O'Sullivan, S. O'Neill, C. Twomey, N. Cashman, P. Haughney, C. Cormac, D. Brosnan, Paudie O'Sullivan, P. Cronin, L. Meade, W. Leahy, C. Lehane
Subs: P. Horgan for Meade (HT); W. Egan for Brosnan (48); C. Murphy for Pat O'Sullivan (55); D. Cahalane for Cormac (60); P. O'Rourke for Leahy (65).
LIMERICK: B. Hennessy, S. Finn, D. Morrissey, R. English, S. O'Brien, B. O'Connell, S. Hickey, J. Ryan, P. Ryan, D. O'Donovan, C. Lynch, D. Reidy, T. O'Brien, D. Hannon, G. Mulcahy.
Subs: R. McCarthy and J. Fitzgibbon for D. Morrissey and T. O'Brien (48); P. Browne for Mulcahy (60); W. McNamara for O'Connell (60); J. Riordan for J. Ryan (66).
Referee: T. Walsh (Waterford).