And there was no fluke about the result. It was thoroughly deserved by a side that had been beaten by a whopping 10 points in the opening round by the same opposition, and had every incentive to reverse that result in front of an attendance of 4,184.
The home side had a number of stars, notably corner forward Peter Casey who finished the game with 1-6 (1-2 from play); midfielder Darragh Carroll who was surprisingly replaced late in the game; and centre back Paddy O’Loughlin.
Cork will point to the loss of their captain Shane Kingston who scored 1-9 in the opening round. He broke a bone in his foot in a challenge game in the built up to this tie and was sorely missed. A second contributory factor to Cork’s defeat was the 15 wides they hit as against four for the opposition.
Few players came out of this game with their reputations intact, and only wing back Mark Coleman and Darragh Fitzgibbon can look back on this game with any degree of satisfaction.
Clearly there was a lot tension and nervousness among both sets of players.
Play was extremely scrappy in the early minutes with a lot of fumbling. In the opening five minutes of play Cork hit three wides to Limerick’s two and one wondered where scores were going to come from.
Thankfully the game settled but scores continued to be scarce. Cork played with a sweeper keeping midfielder Darragh Fitzgibbon in behind their half-back line, and it worked well for them.
It made it difficult for the Limerick forwards to penetrate. Seven minutes had elapsed before the first score came, a point by Mark Coleman from a free.
Thomas Grimes levelled it for the home side a minute later before Cork began to take control.
By the end of the opening quarter, they had forged 0-4 to 0-2 in front but surprisingly, they hit seven wides in that same period, three of them by keeper Declan Dalton.
Cork continued to improve as the half wore on, and three more points were added to lead by double scores – 0-6 to 0-3 after 20 minutes, but they continued to chalk up the wides while Limerick were far more economical with limited possession.
Darragh Carroll gave them a grip at midfield and he and Pat Casey added a brace of points before Casey pointed a close in free, conceded by the Cork keeper after he had his clearance blocked down, the sides retired at the interval tied at 0-7 apiece and it was all to play for.
Play improved immeasurably on the changeover and the sides were level three times in a 10-minute spell as they shared six points. Limerick were clearly not prepared to roll over on this occasion and with Casey leading their challenge, he points two frees, only to see Cork peg them back with like scores from Mark Coleman.
By the end of the third quarter, the game was in the melting pot and to the delight of the home crowd, keeper Eoghan McNamara gave his side the lead for the first time with a point from a long-range free.
Cork began to struggle to contain the rampant Limerick forwards and the pressure paid off when Barry Murphy won a penalty. It pitted keeper against keeper but then Cork netminder was equal to McNamara’s poor effort.
It was a let off for Cork but they failed to capitalise. Limerick sensed victory when Thomas Grimes pointed with four minutes remaining and amid tremendous excitement the home side struck for the killer score. A long ball deep into the Cork defence saw two backs commit the cardinal error of contesting it together and the sliotar broke kindly to Casey who billowed the Cork net.
P. Casey 1-6 (0-4 frees); T. Grimes, D. Carroll, K. Hayes 0-2 each; B. Ryan, E. McNamara (free) 0-1 each.
M. Coleman 0-05 (0-03 frees); D. Fitzgibbon (0-1free), L. Healy, 0-2 each; T. O’Mahony, C. O’Leary, S. Powter, C. Cormack, D. Dalton (65) 0-1 each.
E. McNamara; T. Hayes, E. McSweeney, J. O’Grady; C. Byrnes, P. O’Loughlin, C. Houlihan; D. Carroll, D. Grimes; K. Hayes, S. Flanagan, B. Ryan; P. Casey, M. Mackey, B. Murphy.
W. O’Meara for Mackey (50); C. Boylan for Carroll (53); O. O’Reilly for Ryan (58); P. Aherne for Hayes (59).
D. Dalton; S. Smyth, D. Griffin, C. McCarthy; M. Coleman, E. Murphy ©, D. Lowney; C. O’Leary, D. Fitzgibbon; L. Healy, M. O’Halloran, T. O’Mahony; S. Powter, C. Cormack, J. Looney.
J. Cashman for O’Leary (half time); R. O’Flynn for O’Halloran (40); B. Dunne for Powter (45); B. Hennessy for J. Looney (50).
P. Foley (Waterford)