Limerick 0-24 Cork 0-15
Limerick claimed their first Munster senior hurling title in 17 years with a nine-point win over 14-man Cork at the Gaelic Grounds this afternoon.
Cork's quest for 52nd Munster hurling title took a severe blow in the final act of the first-half when Patrick Horgan was shown a straight red card for making contact with the head of Paudie O'Brien.
But there was no disguising the superiority of John Allen's side in the second-half as they accelerated clear to their 19th provincial title as Cork flagged in the sapping heat.
Horgan can feel a little hard done by with the sending off as he made minimal contact with the Limerick wing-back, but playing the second-half with a numerical disadvantage proved a server test for the Rebels.
The first 35 minutes was notable for the pace that Cork tried to play with throughout. Every sideline cut was taken quickly, puckouts flew out from Anthony Nash as soon as possible and Jimmy Barry Murphy's side tore into Limerick.
Yet, despite their intensity, it was Limerick that opened out a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the seventh minute.
Both side registered points inside the first 45 seconds: O'Brien hitting the opener for Limerick, with Daniel Kearney replying moments later.
Declan Hannon – who was operating farther out the field than his number 14 might suggest – then hit two points for the Treaty men and it was then that Cork lifted their efforts.
With Seamus Harnedy causing trouble in the full-forward berth Cork began to gain a foot hold and after Horgan and Harnedy hit points from play, Horgan pushed Cork ahead by 0-5 to 0-4 in the 15th minute after Harnedy picked him out with a clever pass along the ground.
But Cork hit 10 wides in that opening half and once decent goal chances for Horgan, Harnedy and Christopher Joyce went by the wayside Limerick gained in confidence.
Approaching the break John Allen's side were training by two, but points from Seanie Tobin and a Declan Hannon free before the break sent them in level at 0-10 each.
In the opening half Limerick had to be satisfied with David Breen being their primary ball winner in the forward line, but after the restart the quality of delivery improved drastically into the diminutive full-forward line of Mulcahy and Tobin.
As a result the points began to flow a little easier for the home side, with Graeme Mulcahy getting them up and running with a great score on the run and Hannon followed a minute later after Tobin was pulled back by Lorcan McLoughlin.
Jamie Coughlan kept Cork in touch with a pair of difficult frees from the right – Coughlan was introduced for Cian McCarthy in the reshuffle following the sending off – but he missed an easier one in the 49th minute that would have put a point between the sides.
That miss proved crucial as Limerick went on the charge and hit the next four points, including a huge point from the left wing by James Ryan to open out a 0-17 to 0-12 lead.
But Cork sides are rarely short of pride in their shirt and they fought back with points from Harnedy, Cathal Naughton and Pa Cronin to put just two between the sides.
Without a Munster title since 1996, Limerick could have panicked at this stage, but a great scooped point from Seamus Hickey and a sublime side line cut from Hannon gave the Treaty men a 0-19 to 0-15 advantage.
And Limerick wrapped up the win with two points in a minute from subs Shane Dowling and Kevin Downes -seconds after his introduction – to send the Gaelic Grounds into raptures.
Limerick: D Hannon 0-8 (5f, 1'slc), J Ryan 0-3, S Dowling 0-3, S Tobin 0-2, G Mulcahy 0-2, K Downes 0-2, P Browne 0-1, P O'Brien 0-1, S Hickey 0-1, N Moran 0-1.
Cork: P Horgan 0-4 (2f), S Harnedy 0-3, P Cronin 0-3, J Coughlan 0-2 (2f), D Kearney 0-1, L O'Farrell 0-1, C Naughton 0-1.
Limerick: N Quaid; S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon; P O’Brien, W McNamara, G O’Mahony; P Browne, D O’Grady; D Breen, J Ryan, S Hickey; G Mulcahy, D Hannon, S Tobin.
Subs: S Dowling for Breen (46), C Allis for Mulcahy (52), C King for O'Brien (58), N Moran for Hickey (68).
Cork: A Nash; S O’Neill, S McDonnell, C O Sullivan; T Kenny, L Mc Loughlin, W Egan; C Joyce, D Kearney; L O’Farrell, C McCarthy, P Cronin; C Lehane, S Harnedy, P Horgan.
Subs: J Coughlan for McCarthy (h-t), C Naughton for Lehane (42), M Cussen for O'Farrell (55), S White for McLoughlin (59).
Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath).