An injury-time point from Shane Dowling meant that Cork and 14-man Limerick played out a draw in the Allianz Hurling League Division 1B opener at Páirc Uí Rinn tonight.
Cork sub Michael O’Sullivan looked to given Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side the points when he fired over an excellent effort from the left-hand side as the game crept into injury time, but there was still time for one more play and when referee James Owens awarded the visitors a free, there was no doubt that Dowling would convert it for his 11th in all.
When Limerick’s Graeme Mulcahy was sent off in the 26th minute with his side trailing by five points, 0-9 to 0-4, it looked as if Cork would saunter to victory. Just before that, Stephen Moylan should have goaled to put Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side seven points ahead, but he still managed to get a point and with the extra man Cork were strong favourites.
It was Limerick who responded better to Mulcahy’s dismissal, however, as points from Paudie O’Brien and Dowling left just a goal in it at half-time and then Dowling got the first point of the second half to really make a game of it.
While a pair of Patrick Horgan frees ended Cork’s long scoring drought, they were not gaining the same joy from their forward unit as they had early in the first half. Instead, Wayne McNamara was leading a strong Limerick rearguard action and they doggedly stayed with their hosts, aided by Dowling’s accuracy from placed balls.
They had tied the game at 0-13 each through O’Brien’s second point in the 64th minute, and though Patrick Horgan – who finished with eight for Cork – responded, Limerick’s Paul Browne levelled again.
Points from Horgan and sub Alan Cadogan put Cork two clear though and set for victory before Dowling once again tied matters. When O’Sullivan made one final attempt to give Cork the win, Dowling had the final say.
Such an outcome looked remote when Cork began the game in rip-roaring fashion. They led by 0-8 to 0-2 inside 13 minutes as Horgan, Cian McCarthy and Conor Lehane shone, with Limerick struggling in a big way.
Even then, however, Cork were still wasteful in front of goal and Moylan failed to take advantage of the game’s best goal chance. Browne was very hard-working at midfield and Dowling ensured that they took what opportunities came their way. Ultimately, they would get their reward for never letting the contest get away from them.
Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-8 (0-2f), C Lehane, C McCarthy, S Moylan, A Cadogan 0-2 each, M O’Sullivan 0-1.
Scorers for Limerick: S Dowling 0-11 (0-8f, 0-2 65), P Browne 0-3, P O’Brien 0-2, C Allis 0-1.
A Nash; S White, S O’Neill, K Murphy; M Ellis, C Joyce, W Egan; D Kearney, L McLoughlin; R O’Shea, C McCarthy, A Walsh; S Moylan, C Lehane, P Horgan.
Subs: A Cadogan for Lehane (39, injured), M Cahalane for Walsh (46, injured), L O’Farrell for McCarthy (54), M O’Sullivan for O’Farrell (58, injured), P Haughney for Kearney (63).
N Quaid; S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon; P O’Brien, W McNamara, G O’Mahony; P Browne, D O’Grady; T Ryan, J Ryan, C Allis; G Mulcahy, S Dowling, S Tobin.
Sub: K Downes for T Ryan (48).
Referee: J Owens (Wexford).