The victory also guarantees Cork’s latest minor batch an All-Ireland quarter-final berth and manager Brian Herlihy was understandably appreciative of the context of this semi-final win given last year’s highly-rated Cork minor side fell to Kerry after extra-time at this very hurdle and were therefore out of the running by the second weekend of May.
“We stressed beforehand this was our game for the year,” said Herlihy afterwards.
“We are into a Munster final and whatever happens there, we are still in an All-Ireland quarter-final. The lads will be playing top-level football into August which is hugely important for Cork football.
“Winning All-Irelands is one thing, but developing lads for the future of Cork football is as important and the only way you will do that is by exposing them to big occasions and big games and the first of those is coming up in seven weeks time.”
This contest was turned on its head as early as the eighth minute as two incidents in one crucial passage of play would significantly deflate the Limerick challenge, and by the same token, hand momentum to Cork. Cork ‘keeper Mark White produced a fine save to keep out Anthony Barrett’s drive and as the Cork players worked the ball out of defence, a late challenge by Diarmaid Kelly saw the Limerick midfielder black carded.
Trailing 0-2 to 0-1 at this juncture, Limerick simply never recovered from the loss of such a pivotal leadership figure and Cork effectively killed off the opposition with eight unanswered points thereafter. Cathal Maguire, Damien Gore (0-2, 0-1 free), Mark Buckley (0-2), Colm O’Callaghan (0-2) and Tadhg Corkery were on the mark during an ultra- productive 17-minute spell as the Cork forward unit found gap after gap in the visiting defence.
A William O’Meara free on 29 minutes brought an end to a 27-minute barren spell for the Treaty youngsters, but two more from the lively Gore before the break had the home side 0-12 to 0-2 in front at the interval.Matters went from bad to worse for Limerick upon the restart as points from Maguire and Gore (free) preceded a fine Sean O’Sullivan goal on 36 minutes - the Mitchelstown half-forward, set-up by Shane O’Driscoll, drilled a low effort into the left of Aaron Murphy’s goal.
With the scoreboard reading 1-14 to 0-2, it was game over and what happened thereafter mattered only to the Cork management in terms of examining what options they had off the bench to strengthen their hand for when they travel to Killarney later in the summer.
Subs Sean Ryan and Cathal O’Mahony both etched their names on the scoresheet and the final winning margin could have been greater as a Shane O’Driscoll drive thundered off the crossbar entering the final quarter. Gore continued to torment the Limerick rearguard and brought his personal tally to seven by the finish. Conor O’Grady (0-2) and Anthony Barrett flung over minors for Jerry O’Sullivan’s side, little more than consolation efforts.
Continued Herlihy: “We were shaky at the start, Limerick could have had a couple of goals. The black card to their best player didn’t help them either. That shook them a bit. We kept taking our points at the other end. There is good competition for places and we just kept going to the end which we are very happy about.
“We emphasised to the lads that any chance we get, take it, and keep the scoreboard ticking over. All we try to do is do the simple things right and work hard.”
D Gore (0-7, 0-5 frees); M Buckley (0-3); C Maguire, C O’Callaghan (0-2); S O’Sullivan (1-0); T Corkery, C O’Mahony, S Minihane, S Ryan, L O’Donovan (0-1 each).
A Barrett, C O’Grady (0-2 each); W O’Meara (0-1 free), J Ryan (0-1 each).
M White (Clonakilty); L Finn (Mitchelstown), A McCarthy (St Finbarr’s), L O’Donovan (Clonakilty); T Corkery (Cill na Martra), N Walsh (Douglas), R O’Driscoll (Garnish); C Foley (Western Gaels/Kilmichael), S Minihane (Ilen Rovers); S O’Sullivan (Mitchelstown), C O’Callaghan (Éire Óg), C Maguire (Castlehaven); D Gore (Kilmacabea), M Buckley (Sam Maguires/Dohenys), S O’Driscoll (Glanmore).
S Ryan (Ballinascarthy) for Foley, K O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers) for Buckley (both 40 mins); C O’Mahony (Mitchelstown) for Maguire (44); A Browne (Trinity Gaels) for McCarthy (44); D Moynihan (Sliabh Luachra) for O’Sullivan (47); G O’Donoghue (Ballincollig) for Minihane (54).
A Murphy (Fr Casey’s); G Brennan (Claughaun), F Murphy (Kilteely/Dromkeen), D Enright (Monaleen); S Hurley (Newcastlewest), A Kearns (St Senans), O Collins (Adare); J Ryan (Oola), D Kelly (Newcastlewest); A Storan (Mungret/St Paul’s), C McSweeney (Gerald Griffins), A Barrett (Killmallock); E O’Mahony (Ballylanders), W O’Meara (Ballysteen), J Ryan (Athea).
D Ranahan (Ballysteen) for Kelly (nine mins, bc); C O’Grady (Hospital-Herbertstown) for O’Mahony (38); L Cardy (Adare) for Storan (44); E Carew (Monaleen) for Hurley (49); D Corrigan (Kildimo Pallaskenry) for Kearns (56); J Kelly (Monaleen) for Brennan (56).
A Kissane (Waterford).