The furnishings in Pairc Ui Rinn won’t rival Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano for comfort anytime soon, but no-one was forced to the edge of their seats Saturday night in Cork as the hosts romped to a 21-point Munster SFC semi final victory over Limerick.
The visitors’ plans, and shape, were incinerated inside 12 minutes as Cork skinned them for three early goals – Brian Hurley looking especially sharp as he claimed the first pair. It was 3-5 to no score soon afterwards and before 20 minutes had elapsed, each of Cork’s six starting forwards was on the scoresheet.
If you were to suggest to Ronan McCarthy that it was a flat-track stroll in the first period, he might point to the fact that his side made it look so – and he’d have a case.
Limerick were the ones coming into the provincial semi on a high after victory over fancied Tipperary. Cork were pickled with doubts from outside the camp, though the whispers through the gates were that they were motoring well.
If they did carry some self-doubts into an encounter watched by 3.128 spectators, they could have resurfaced after Limerick corner forward Sean McSweeney turned inside to fire an opening salvo on 15 seconds that hit a post before keeper Mark White deflected it up onto the crossbar.
However, Cork’s response was fast and ferocious, Hurley turned Sean O’Dea to bullet an opening goal, and repeated the dose from the other wing three minutes later. The sound of a Limerick bubble bursting was almost audible.
Ruairi Deane’s aggressive running was constant, and he claimed a third goal on 12 minutes. Cork could have had a fourth – and a potential hat-trick for Hurley – from the penalty spot, but the Castlehaven man hit a post. Justice, really, as O’Dea’s body block on Kerrigan’s shot hardly merited sanction.
The miss didn’t hinder Cork in any material way and they took a 3-8 to 0-2 lead into the break, Limerick breaking their duck in the 27th minute courtesy of full forward Seamus Carroll.
That their keeper, Monaleen’s Donal O’Sullivan, finished top scorer for Limerick with three converted 45s says plenty about the dearth of an attacking edge to Limerick.
Cork corner back Kevin Flahive had the freedom to operate as an auxiliary forward, and though the likes of Limerick midfielder Tommy Childs flashed impressively into the game at times, it was too rare and all in vain.
Luke Connolly could have rubbed salt in the wounds in the final minute but he slipped with the goal at his mercy. For Billy Lee and Limerick, at least it was one bit of mercy. They’ll be hoping the R2 qualifier draw is kind.
Munster SFC Semi-Final— Cork GAA (@OfficialCorkGAA) June 1, 2019
Limerick: 0-6(6) pic.twitter.com/jmFGJdAqrG
M Collins (0-9, 5 frees), B Hurley (2-0), R Deane (1-0), E McSweeney (0-3), M Taylor (0-2), I Maguire, J O’Rourke, P Kerrigan, S Sherlock (0-1 each).
D. O’Sullivan (0-3, 45s), S Carroll (0-2), J Lee (0-1, free).
M White; N Walsh, J Loughrey, K Flahive; L O’Donovan, Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty), M Taylor; I Maguire, K O’Hanlon; E McSweeney, R Deane, P Kerrigan; J O’Rourke, B Hurley, M Collins.
A Browne for Loughrey (38); S Sherlock for Hurley (44); L Connolly for O’Rourke (46); K O’Driscoll for Deane (51); K O’Donovan for Clancy (57); R O’Toole for Maguire (60).
: D. O’Sullivan; B Fanning, S O’Dea, P Maher; C McSweeney, I Corbett, G Brown; D Treacy, T Childs; A Enright, C Fahy, M Fitzgibbon; S McSweeney, S O’Carroll, J Lee.
P Nash for A Enright (HT); T McCarthy for G Brown (HT); J Naughton for S McSweeney (HT); P de Brun for Cillian Fahy (44);; G Noonan for C McSweeney (55); R Lynch for Fitzgibbon (56).
B Cawley (Kildare).