Classy Cork serve early warning

Cork 2-17 Limerick 1-3

Playing a marvellous brand of hurling, the Leesiders recovered from conceding an early goal to run out the easiest of winners and, in the process, served notice that it will take a team of exceptional ability to dethrone them.

Aided by the breeze, Limerick couldn't have asked for a better start when a free from his own 65 by centre-back Brian Quinn was first-timed to the net by full-forward Tiernan Ryan after 45 seconds. A minute later Cork were denied a similar score when Limerick keeper Barry Hennessy saved from Danny O'Callaghan and Colm O'Neill drove the rebound wide.

Cork's approach work was excellent but they tended to overdo the passing and with the Limerick defence, in particular Brian Moloney and Cian Cagney giving nothing away, the scores were slow in coming. However all that changed in a two-minute spell when the defending champions rattled home two goals. The first was scored by Colm O'Neill, who rose highest to touch home O'Callaghan's long delivery, and the second came a minute later when O'Callaghan finished a great move to the net to put Cork 2-1 to 1-1 in front after just 12 minutes.

Limerick faded completely, as Cork's outfield superiority, garnered through an unbeatable half-back line of Sean O'Riordan, Adrian Mannix and Paudie O'Sullivan but faulty shooting by the visitors' forwards - they hit seven wides in the opening half - cost them easy scores.

Despite losing Paudie O'Sullivan through injury, Cork continued to dictate play and a gradual improvement in their finish saw them hit over eight points without reply and they were full value for their 2-9 to 1-1 half time lead.

Cork resumed the second half as they finished the first, knocking over three points without reply, Adrian Mannix converting his third 65, and the game, played in front of 1,799 spectators, looked to be all over.

Limerick managed a point from a free by Denis O'Connor in the 35th minute, their first score for 23 minutes play, but Cork remained in control.

The dominance of Cork allowed the selectors to use their full complement of substitutes, yet Limerick could make no impression particularly in attack as the Leesiders defence, with John O'Callaghan and Conor O'Driscoll unbeatable, gave nothing away.

The remainder of the half became target practice for Cork who added five further points, three of them by Lee Desmond.

Scorers: Cork: C. O'Neill 1-1; A. Mannix 0-4 (65s); P. Horgan 0-4 (0-1 free); D. O'Callaghan 1-0; L. Desmond 0-3; B. Corry 0-2; T. Murray, D. Stack, R. White 0-01 each. Limerick: T. Ryan 1-0; S. O'Donnell, D. O'Connor (free), G. Collins 0-1 each.

CORK: C. Cronin; J. O'Callaghan, J. Moran, C. O'Driscoll; S. O'Riordan, A. Mannix, P. O'Sullivan; L. Desmond, T. Murray; D. Stack, B. Corry, R. White; C. O'Neill, D. O'Callaghan, P. Horgan.

Subs: J. O'Callaghan for P. O'Sullivan; S. Cotter for White; D. Crowley for Stack; D. Mulcahy for Moran; R. Clifford for O'Neill.

LIMERICK: B. Hennessy; B. Moloney, C. Cagney, P. Behan; J. Mann, B. Quinn, N. Quaid; P. O'Brien, D. O'Connor; J. Carroll, S. O'Donnell, G. Collins; M. Ryan, T. Ryan, T. O'Brien.

Subs: P. O'Riordan for Behan; D. Walsh for Carroll; D. Reale for M. Ryan; M. Fenton for Mann; D. Quaid for O'Brien.

Referee: S. Ryan (Tipperary).

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