Counihan’s big guns too powerful for Limerick

WITH a second-string side partaking in the McGrath Cup, Cork manager Conor Counihan wheeled out his big guns for the first time this season in a senior football challenge at Mallow on Saturday.

The result swung Cork’s way at the end but it was impossible to place much significance on the result, as the weather ruined it as a spectacle.

The players made a good fist of coping with the conditions and the match served a purpose, two weeks before the start of the National League. For Counihan, CIT’s elimination from the McGrath Cup afforded him the opportunity to run the rule over their players, with newcomers Ray Carey, Paul O’Flynn, Anthony Fenton and Seanie Cahalane all featuring over the hour.

For Limerick boss Mickey Ned O’Sullivan, the pre-season experimentation continued and he also had the satisfaction of seeing intercounty hurlers Mark O’Riordan and Stephen Lucey line out in defence, as they bid to serve a dual mandate in 2009.

With wind advantage, Limerick predictably enjoyed the greater share of possession in the first-half. Full-forward Maurice Carrig showed up well from frees early on, while corner-forward Kieran O’Callaghan came close to rattling the net in the eighth minute when his piledriver cannoned off the post. Cork coped with limited chances to strike points from John Hayes and Paul Kerrigan to leave the teams tied at 0-2 apiece after the opening quarter. Yet Limerick moved ahead 0-5 to 0-2 by half-time, with half-backs Stephen Lucey and Stephen Lavin both moving forward to register stylish points.

In the second-half Cork, backed by the gale, started to impose themselves, with Nicholas Murphy and Pierce O’Neill going close with early goal efforts. But in the 35th minute Donncha O’Connor seized on an errant kickout by Limerick netminder Sean Kiely and dispatched the ball to the net.

O’Connor powered on to add two further points, one from a free and one fisted effort, and Cork were 1-4 to 0-5 ahead entering the final quarter. Daniel Goulding provided the finishing touches to Cork’s victory with two late points and with Limerick unable to funnel much possession forward due to the worsening conditions, Cork’s backline had few attacks to deal with.

The Rebels ran out four-point winners but the awful weather ensured that this result came with a huge proviso for both teams. A kinder climate in future games will be more instructive as to their standings.

Scorers for Cork: D O’Connor 1-2 (0-1f), D Goulding 0-2 (0-1f), J Hayes, P Kerrigan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Limerick: M Carrig 0-3 (0-2f, 0-1 ‘45), S Lavin, S Lucey 0-1 each.

CORK: P White; S O’Donoghue, R Carey, A Lynch; N O’Leary, G Spillane, K O’Connor; N Murphy, P O’Flynn; J Hayes, P O’Neill, P Kerrigan; D Goulding, M Cussen, D O’Connor.

Subs: A Fenton for O’Donoghue (half-time), S O’Brien for Hayes (half-time), S Cahalane for Goulding (35), Goulding for O’Flynn (inj) (48).

LIMERICK: S Kiely; D Madden, S Gallagher, M O’Riordan; S Lavin, S Lucey, E Hogan; T Cahill, J O’Donovan; D Phelan, C Joyce-Power, J Galvin; M Crowley, M Carrig, K O’Callaghan.

Subs: G Collins for O’Donovan (inj) (14), M McMahon for Carrig (half-time), JB Murphy for O’Callaghan (35), C Hickey for Lavin (46), J Marsh for Joyce-Power (46), M Cahill for Joyce-Power (46), C Ranahan for Crowley (53).

Referee: James Bermingham (Bride Rovers)

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