It was a case of the All-Ireland senior champions against the All-Ireland intermediate champions and while Limerick held a one-point lead on 47 minutes, Cork closed out with six unanswered points.
Paudie Murray went with a youthful Cork side, sprinkled with a few seasoned campaigners. The Rebel boss says he is anxious to keep faith with these young players.
“We have gone down the road of introducing a bit of youth. I thought they fronted up quite well and it is great for them to be going into a league final. The older crew are used to it but I think this experience will do them the world of good. We expected Limerick would come full-blooded for this game and certainly their fitness level was a lot better than ours. When we introduced the subs I think the fresh legs made a huge difference.”
A cross-field wind made for a tricky encounter. Cork, lined out with seven of last September’s winning side while Limerick introduced a handful of their 2014 successful minor team. Amy O’Connor was a threat early on and her individual skill six minutes in yielded Cork’s goal. From there, they went on to lead 1-5 to 0-3. Orla Cotter landed three frees while star player Niamh Mulcahy was inspirational for Limerick.
Points from Mulcahy and Rebecca Delee – impressive along with Sarah Carey and Fiona Hickey in the Limerick half-back line - cut the gap to one at the break, 1-5 to 0-7. Cork brought in Briege Corkery at half-time to midfield where her presence was telling. Yet, it was the Green and White who got on top through Caoimhe Costelloe and Mulcahy points, 0-10 to 1-6.
However, with Amy Lee producing the second of two point-blank saves, and Julia White, Cotter, Katrina Mackey and Orla Cronin picking off some fine points, the Leesiders sealed their place in the final on May 3.
Despite losing, Joe Quaid was in positive mood. “We wanted to see what level we were at and I think we are able to dine at the top table. There wasn’t a whole pile in it in general play. We introduced four girls that played minor yesterday and that is part of the blooding process. We brought on two U17s. We had six of last year’s All Ireland minor champions. We looked for a performance and I think we got it. We got a savage work-rate. We need to speed up the hurling a small bit. Fitness wise we coped well.”
Scorers for Cork: O Cotter (0-6, five frees, one 45m), A O’Connor (1-1), J White and K Mackey (0-2 each), O Cronin (0-1).
Scorers for Limerick: N Mulcahy (0-7, four frees), R Delee (0-2), C Costelloe (0-1).
CORK: A Lee; L Callanan, L Treacy, L O’Sullivan; E O’Sullivan, R Buckley, M Cahalane; S Fahy, A Thompson (Capt); J White, F Neville, O Cotter; A O’Connor, J Casey, K Mackey.
Subs: B Corkery for S Fahy (half-time), H Looney for F Neville (44), O Cronin for J Casey (48), M Walsh for L Callanan (61).
LIMERICK: S Moynihan; M McCarthy, L McCarthy, J Mulcahy; R Delee, S Carey (Capt), F Hickey; N Mulcahy, C Costelloe; A Sheehan, D Murphy, K O’Leary; N Barry, M O’Callaghan, D Mulcahy.
Subs: C Lyons for N Barry (27), A Scanlon for D Mulcahy (44), C O’Brien for D Murphy (51), S McNamara for A Sheehan (52).
Referee: Karl O’Brien (Dublin).