Playing in driving rain, there was never a hint Limerick would claim another big scalp after their semi-final win over Kerry as a finely-tuned Cork side, fielding six of last year’s All-Ireland winning combination, held all the aces.
Limerick came into the game in confident mood and everything looked to be going to plan as they matched the defending champions to be level twice in the opening seven minutes.
However, once Cork began to string some superb passing movements together, the cracks appeared in the Limerick defence, and with Dara Ring sparkling at corner-forward, the scores began to flow for the Leesiders.
Five points in-a-row, all from play, had Cork comfortably in front after 10 minutes and when Dara Ring coolly slotted home a penalty, which helped his side into a 1-6 to 0-2 lead by the end of the opening quarter, the signs looked ominous for the Shannonsiders.
Cork’s class was obvious and in another delightful passing movement, Dean Murphy rattled the Limerick net. Credit to the visitors, they battled hard and after Kevin Moynihan came forward to kick a point, it took the outstretched leg of Cork keeper Jamie Crowley to deny the same player a badly-needed goal.
Cork’s half-time lead of 2-9 to 0-5 looked beyond Limerick’s reach, and as the rain cascaded down, the champions wrapped up the game with a third goal when the impressive Dara Ring set up Joe Collins for a third goal.
Limerick had no answer to the pace and skill of Ring and he capped a superb night when he created a goal chance for Michael Vaughan who took it with aplomb, and Cork’s place in the All-Ireland semi-final against the Leinster champions in the new year was well and truly secured.
Cork could even afford to give five substitutes a run out and on the this performance, it will take a good team to dethrone them.
Cork scorers: D. Ring 1-4 (1-0 pen.); M. Vaughan 1-3; B. Hurley 0-4 (0-1 45); D. Murphy, J. Collins 1-0 each; A. Gould, T. Clancy, P. Cronin, K. Hoare, L. O’Neill, R. O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Limerick scorers: S. O’Brien 0-4 (0-3 frees, 0-1 45); K. Doody 0-2 (0-1 free); M. Brosnan, K. Moynihan 0-1 each.
CORK: J. Crowley; J. Ryan, R. O’Sullivan, F. Sheahan; M. Howard, L. O’Neill, C. Dineen; T. Clancy, Joe Collins; M. Vaughan, P. Crowley, A. Gould ; D. Ring , D. Murphy, B. Hurley.
Subs: P. Cronin for Vaughan (40); S. Dennehy for Gould (40); K. Hoare for Dineen (45); B. O’Sullivan for Clancy (48); A. O’Sullivan for Murphy (55).
LIMERICK: D. Bagnell; R. Hannon, S. Foley, J. Barrett; K. Moynihan, K. Brosnan, S. Reynolds; J. O’Meara, B. Noonan; K. Noonan, M. O’Flynn, S. Sheahan; K. Doody, S. O’Brien, M. Brosnan.
Subs: F. Cassidy for Bagnell (29); P. Brislane for Hannon (40); E. Gallagher for Barrett (47); J. Flaherty for Ml Brosnan (52); D. Dillon for Sheahan (52).
Referee: D. Cahill (Tipperary).