After the sides were level for the fifth time in the 42nd minute, Cork looked like winning comfortably following two snap points from substitutes Vincent Hurley and Michael O’Driscoll and a goal by corner forward Pat Dunlea.
But Limerick refused to surrender and came storming back.
Although Pat Dunlea with an early point from a free gave Cork the lead, the home side, with a slight wind advantage, found it extremely difficult to get into their stride, but they did lead 0-3 to 0-1 at the end of the opening quarter.
Disaster struck Limerick 16 minutes into the game when they lost top forward Thomas Collins with a leg injury. Collins had scored Limerick’s two opening points and was desperately unlucky to be denied a goal after a magnificent save by Cork goalkeeper Kevin Murphy.
With team captain Stephen Kelly in dazzling form in the left flank of attack, Limerick levelled for the third time in the 23rd minute when centre forward Stephen Fox kicked over. But Cork finished the half in spectacular style and two sublime points from wing forward Fiachra Lynch and wing back Paudie Kissane to lead by 0-6 to 0-4 at the break.
On the resumption, Limerick quickly gained parity with two sparkling points from the outstanding Kelly and midfielder Mike McMahon.
Cork finally powered their way into a commanding five points lead, two delightful strikes from Hurley and O’Driscoll giving them breathing space before wing forward Hugh Curran was fouled going through. Excellent goalkeeper Denis O’Connor brilliantly save Pat Dunlea’s penalty attempt but the Cork corner-forward kicked the rebound to the net. Curran added a point and now leading by six points with 12 minutes of normal time remaining Cork looked to be home and dry.
But when inspiration skipper Kelly set up full forward Martin Scannell for a peach of a goal in the 54th minute Limerick were well and truly back in the hunt.
However, two fine scores from Vincent Hurley and Niall O’Sullivan in injury time looked to have wrapped up things for Cork. But Limerick came fighting back again and points from substitute Stephen Walsh and freetaker Pat Donnelly left just the bare minimum between them at the end.
Scorers for Cork: P. Dunlea (1-2, 0-1 free), H. Curran (0-2), V. Hurley (0-2), F. Lynch (0-2, 0-1 free), J. Russell, D. Carey, P. Kissane, M. O’Driscoll, N. O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
Limerick: M. Scannell (1-0), P. Donnelly (0-4, 0-3 frees), T. Collins (0-2), S. Kelly (0-2), S. Fox (0-2), M. McMahon, S. Walsh (0-1 each).
K. Murphy, B. Gogan, E. Wiseman, D. O’Riordan, P. Kissane, D. Carey, M. Feehily, A. O’Sullivan, S. O’Sullivan, F. Lynch, J. Russell, H. Curran, P. Cahill, N. O’Sullivan, P. Dunlea. Subs: M. O’Driscoll for Carey (inj), V. Murphy for S. O’Sullivan, D. O’Brien for Russell.
D. O’Connor, E. Sheehy, S. Barrett, P. Fox, F. Nash, K. O’Connor, E. Benson, M. McMahon, D. Phelan, T. Collins, S. Fox, S. Kelly, P. Donnelly, M. Scannell, P. Kinnerk. Subs: C. O’Callaghan for Collins (inj), S. Walsh for P. Fox, L. Casey for O’Callaghan, V. O’Connell for Kinnerk. G. Lynch (Kerry).