Masterful James pulls Cork through

James Masters pulled Cork through to next month's Munster SFC final as he scored all bar one of their points in a 0-09 to 0-05 victory over a sorry Limerick side at the Gaelic Grounds.

Limerick 0-05 Cork 0-09

James Masters pulled Cork through to next month's Munster SFC final as he scored all bar one of their points in a 0-09 to 0-05 victory over a sorry Limerick side at the Gaelic Grounds.

The Nemo Rangers attacker finished with a personal tally of 0-08 (4f).

Limerick burst into a 0-04 to no score lead after only 10 minutes with Micheal Reidy pointing twice but Owen Keating's 25th-minute free proved to be their only other score.

The Shannonsiders led 0-05 to 0-03 at the break. Yet Cork came into their own in the second half with Masters scoring five times – Kevin O'Sullivan added a free for the Rebels, who will take on champions Kerry in the provincial decider on July 9.

Michael Crowley, captain for the day in the injury-enforced absence of Muiris Gavin, got Limerick off to a flying start as he pointed from the left flank after only 48 seconds.

Limerick's lively opening gathered pace as Owen Keating added a free and left corner forward Reidy, profiting from two good lay-offs by Johnny Murphy, scored twice in as many minutes.

But the small attendance, barely over 3,000, were being treated to a false dawn as only Keating raised another white flag for the men in green for the remaining hour.

Masters quickly clicked into gear to help Cork shore up the difference to two points by half-time. He scored from play from distance, then angled over his first free. Keating answered back before Masters added a second free from the left side.

The poor quality continued into the second half with little in the way of textbook shooting. Masters was head and shoulders above any forward on the field.

Seven minutes into the half, Billy Morgan's men were on terms for the first time. Frees from Masters and his fellow corner man O'Sullivan made it 0-05 apiece.

Limerick, who were missing the attacking thrust of injured duo Gavin and Stephen Kelly and a number of hurling defections, simply had no answer as the Rebels pulled clear.

Limerick boss Mickey Ned O'Sullivan said the pressure was off his side in the lead-up to today's semi-final, but his players looked decidedly ill-at-ease in front of goal during the final half hour.

Substitute Tommy Carroll ballooned a shot 15 metres wide, Crowley had a poor attempt at a free waved wide and Gavin, who was hauled off the bench for inspiration, ran Limerick’s wides tally up to nine by the finish. Pat Ahern, another substitute, had a goal chance parried away by Cork stopper Alan Quirke in the 70th-minute, but other than that, the Cork defence, with Graham Canty and Anthony Lynch alert as ever, held firm.

Masters sent Cork into the lead for the first time on 49 minutes. Moments later, defender Noel O'Leary raced forward to offload and set the Nemo man up for an excellent point.

Masters got the better of his marker Padraig Browne on 55 minutes to fire over off his left boot and he added his eighth on the hour mark when substitute Donnacha O'Connor teed him up.

On a forgettable afternoon, Masters' contribution was the only highlight as both sides did little to boost the flagging fortunes of Munster football. Kerry's fourth consecutive Munster title looks already assured.

LIMERICK: S Kiely; S Gallagher, J McCarthy, P Browne; C Mullane, S Lavin, A Lane; J Stokes, J Galvin; O Keating (0-02 (2f)), D Reidy, S Buckley, M Crowley (capt) (0-01), J Murphy, M Reidy (0-02).

Subs used: T Carroll for Stokes (11 mins), J Cooke for Murphy (40), D Horan for D Reidy (59), M Gavin for Keating (61), P Ahern for Carroll (67)

CORK: A Quirke; K O'Connor, G Canty, A Lynch; N O'Leary, G Spillane, S Levis; N Murphy, D Kavanagh (capt); C McCarthy, D Niblock, K McMahon; J Masters (0-08 (4f)), F Gould, K O'Sullivan (0-01 (1f)).

Subs used: M Prout for Levis (half time), S O’Brien for Gould (46 mins), D O’Connor for O’Sullivan (49), D Goulding for Niblock (56), D Hurley for Kavanagh (68)

Referee: Syl Doyle (Wexford)

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