Limerick 0-12 Cork 2-09
CORK captain Graham Canty was an unlikely hero in the unlikeliest of victories for Cork at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday.
In a game ruined by an over-zealous referee who awarded 56 frees — 35 to the home side — Limerick have every reason to feel they were robbed. They had stormed into a three point lead by the 69th minute and were looking good for a home Munster final against Kerry, but their glory dreams were torpedoed in 60 seconds as goals by Daniel Goulding and Canty set up another Munster final against Kerry in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in three weeks.
You couldn’t even say Cork created the decisive goals, and they certainly weren’t the result of manic pressure on the Limerick defence. Cork played 15 minutes of the second half against 14 players after Limerick had Seanie Buckley sent off for a second yellow card, yet it was the home side who upped the ante to lead 0-8 to 0-7.
Matters got worse for the visitors when they had Donncha O’Connor sent off for a similar two yellow card offence, and it looked curtains after the impressive Ian Ryan kicked three points in a row to lead 0-12 to 0-9 entering the final minutes.
However, the game took a dramatic turn when Limerick goalkeeper Sean Kiely was dispossessed outside the small square and in the ensuing melee Daniel Goulding coolly stroked the ball into the empty net.
In a classic smash and grab, full back Graham Canty followed James Masters long delivery in to fist the ball to the net to leave the home side completely shattered.
Afterwards Limerick coach Micky Ned O’Sullivan said his charges had brought pride and respect back to the county with their performance.
For Cork coach Conor Counihan it was a nerve-wrecking afternoon. Defensively they were very shaky in the early minutes of the game and could have conceded at last one goal. However, they settled well and enjoyed a lot of possession won by the industrious Paudie Kissane (until he was forced off with a suspected broken wrist just on half time), Pearse O’Neill and John Hayes.
The sides were level six times and a draw would have been a fair result.
Limerick couldn’t have asked for a better start after late substitute Mike Crowley kicked them into the lead after just 25 seconds.
The Cork defence settled well after a nervous start, and with Paudie Kissane excellent at wing back, and John Hayes equally good up front, the sides were level at 0-4 each after 25 minutes.
Cork’s use of the long ball into their attack was very effective and they came very close to a goal when John Hayes’s effort was touched onto the Limerick crossbar by Nicholas Murphy before going over for a point which gave the Leesiders the lead for the first time.
It was strange for Limerick to find themselves in arrears after their bright opening and the 4,826 spectators got plenty to shout about as the sides swapped points before Hayes’s point in the 29th minute eased Cork in front 0-6 to 0-5 at the break.
In between Cork lost Kissane, but they came very close to a goal when Pearse O’Neill’s fisted effort came back into play off the upright for Daniel Goulding to first time the rebound out off a defence for a fruitless 45.
Cork wasted their third chance of a goal 15 seconds after the restart when Donncha O’Connor knocked down Nicholas Murphy’s free into the path of Daniel Goulding, but Sean Kiely made a superb save.
There was far more urgency in Cork’s play on the change over and a Nicholas Murphy point put them two clear for the first time, and when Limerick lost Seanie Buckley for a second yellow card offence, the visitors were expected to have matters all their own way.
Limerick hadn’t read the script, and with John Galvin playing a blinder at midfield, even though Nicholas Murphy scored two crucial points, they came at Cork in waves to lead 0-8 to 0-7 and when the Leesiders lost Donncha O’Connor the home side looked likely winners.
It looked curtains for Cork when Ian Ryan with two points and Kelly with one, stretched the Limerick lead to three with normal time almost out.
Scorers for Cork: D. Goulding 1-1; G. Canty 1-0; J. Hayes 0-3; D. O’Connor (frees), N. Murphy 0-2 each; P. O’Neill, 0-1.
Limerick: I. Ryan 0-5 (0-2 frees); M. Crowley 0-4 (0-1 free); J. Cooke, J. Galvin, S. Kelly 0-1 each.
CORK: A. Quirke; D. Duggan, G. Canty, B. O’Regan; P. Kissane, G. Spillane, N. O’Leary; N. Murphy, A. O’Connor; P. O’Neill, F. Goold, S. O’Brien; D. Goulding, D. O’Connor, J. Hayes.
Subs: K. O’Connor for Kissane (h/t); J. Masters for A. O’Connor (50); C. McCarthy for Goold (55); P. Kelly for O’Brien (60); M. Cussen for Goulding (70).
LIMERICK: S. Kiely; D. Carroll, J. McCarthy, S. Gallagher; P. Browne, S. Lavin, P. Ranahan; J. O’Donovan, J. Galvin; S. Kelly, J. Cooke, S. Buckley; G. Collins, K. O’Callaghan, I. Ryan.
Subs: S. Walsh for Carroll (h/t); D. Phelan for O’Donovan (55); J. Ryan for Cooke (60); E. Keating for O’Callaghan (63).
Referee: G. O Conamha (Galway)
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