Cork 5-8 Limerick 2-12
“Disgusted” was the reaction offered by Sean Hayes to this lazy and half-hearted Cork performance. The winning manager was understandably frustrated.
At the end of 60 minutes of error-ridden football, the sole positive to be taken from a somewhat bizarre quarter-final fixture was Cork’s Munster title defence remained alive. And with Kerry the visitors to Páirc Úi Rinn next Wednesday, there really isn’t much solace to be drawn.
Three first-half goals and a crucial fourth from Ryan Harkin directly after Limerick had equalised midway through the second-half edged Cork past a spirited challenge from the home side. This was a far cry from the nine and 15-point trimmings dished out by Cork in their two most recent meetings. Limerick played with a purpose at the Gaelic Grounds, Cork simply believed they had to show up.
“Am I disgusted by the way we played? Yes,” said Hayes. “I am not despairing, though. We are still in it, there is still hope.
“Limerick had nothing to lose. They really put it up to us. Our fellas just weren’t up for the fight despite us coming down saying we were going to get a tough game.
“Our defence was under pressure, but they made some very stupid mistakes. They were uncharacteristic mistakes. I don’t know if the whole attitude was ‘we are going to get through this without trying too hard’. I hope it wasn’t.”
Cork weren’t aided, mind, by the loss of Ian Maguire before throw-in. The St Finbarr’s midfielder continues to be plagued by a bulging disc and Hayes has already ruled him out for next week’s fixture.
Limerick’s challenge reached its peak on 41 minutes when centre-forward Cian Sheen profited from a mistake by Dylan Quinn to steer the ball past Cork ’keeper Michael Martin. The goal brought Limerick level at 1-12 to 4-6, but it proved a short-lived parity.
Kevin Davis launched a probing delivery into the opposition danger area in the subsequent action and Ryan Harkin rose highest to palm the ball across the white paint. Limerick would fail to add to their tally in the ensuing 19 minutes, Cillian Fahy’s goal deep in second-half stoppages inconsequential to the outcome.
Hayes’ charges kicked 1-2 in the final quarter, Cillian McIntyre’s goal strike after Peter Kelleher hit the crossbar allowing Cork fall over the finishing line.
Half an hour earlier the Rebels had returned to the dressing room 3-4 to 0-8 in front. The interval scoreline was rough justice on Declan Brudair’s troops who had enjoyed the better of the midfield exchanges, both William O’Donoghue and Gearóid Hegarty impressing.
Further forward, Evan Quinlan and Kevin Moore were proving particularly troublesome in their respective corners. The pair contributed all but one white flag of their sides first-half tally. And yet, for all the football played by the Treaty men, Cork regrouped at half-time scratching their heads as to how their goal count stood only at three.
The contest was eight minutes old when Darragh Murphy, fed by Kevin Crowley, ploughed through the heart of the Limerick defence, blasting the O’Neill’s past a hapless James O’Meara.
Kevin Moore countered with two points, but Cork raised a second green flag on 11 minutes. Alan O’Donovan’s delivery was knocked into Sean O’Donoghue’s path by Kelleher and the Inniscarra corner-forward punched home from three yards.
Next in the queue to rattle the Limerick net was full-forward Kelleher. His fisted effort was correctly disallowed by referee Sean Joy, however, for a square ball. Cork were now pouring forward at every turn and the unmarked Cathal Vaughan should have made it goal number three, pulling his effort right and wide.
Limerick absorbed Cork’s period of dominance, steadied themselves upright and responded with four points on the hop. Quinlan (0-2), Chris Smith and Moore all nailed the target to the level matters at 2-1 to 0-7. Harkin kicked Cork’s first score in 11 minutes thereafter, and two more followed from the right boot of substitute Kevin Davis. The Skibbereen man replaced Andrew Murphy on 16 minutes, with fellow midfielder Darragh Murphy withdrawn six minutes into the second period – the picture painted of Limerick’s superiority in this department.
Davis would supply the delivery for their third goal, Limerick ’keeper O’Meara completely misjudging the flight of the ball. Possession bounced up and onto the crossbar, Kelleher on hand to punish the error.
There was little or no improvement from the winners in the second period. And still they progressed.
Ryan Harkin’s goal directly after Limerick had equalised in the second-half. Limerick, crucially, were never allowed get their noses in front.
Talk of the town
Cork’s lethargic showing. They never really left the starting gate.
Did that just happen?
Cork’s first-half goal fest. Netted three, had one disallowed and missed two more.
Best on show
For Cork, we’d be a while searching. Kevin Davis was lively upon introduction. Limerick’s Gearóid Hegarty stood a class apart at midfield. Ran out of steam in the end, but only after 50 minutes of raw endeavour.
Limerick’s full-back line was under pressure from the off and corrective surgery should have been carried out far earlier than was the case. Cork netted five goals and could easily have added three more. In fairness to Hayes, he emptied the bench to improve the areas where Cork were flailing.
Black card watch
Kevin Crowley correctly dismissed for pulling down William O’Donoghue seven minutes in.
The man in the middle
Nothing that influenced the outcome. A lot of key calls did appear to swing in Limerick’s favour. Scorers for Cork: R Harkin (1-2); S O’Donoghue, P Kelleher, D Murphy C McIntyre (1-0 each); C Vaughan (0-3); K Davis (0-2); B O’Driscoll (0-1).
Scorers for Limerick: C Sheehan (1-1); E Quinlan (0-2 free), K Moore (0-2 free, 0-4 each); C Fahy (1-0); J Mullins (0-1 free) C Smith, T McCarthy (0-1 each).
CORK: M Martin (Nemo Rangers); D Quinn (St Finbarr’s), J Davis (Douglas), S Cronin (Nemo Rangers); T O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), S White (Clonakilty), K Crowley (Millstreet); D Murphy (Valley Rovers), A Murphy (St Michael’s); A O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), C Horgan (Nemo Rangers), R Harkin (Mallow); C Vaughan (Ivyleary), P Kelleher (Kilmichael), S O’Donoghue (Inniscarra).
Subs: C Kiely (Ballincollig) for Crowley (8 mins, bc), K Davis (Skibbereen) for A Murphy (16), D O’Callaghan (Clyda Rovers) for D Murphy (36), B O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh) for Horgan (42), M McSweeney (Newcestown) for Quinn (50), C McIntrye (Carrigaline) for Vaughan (55).
LIMERICK: J O’Meara (Fr Casey’s); S Cusack (Monaleen), S Barrett (Bruff), T McCarthy (Kildimo/Pallaskenry); S Cahill (Mountcollins), C Smith (Fr Casey’s), C Fahy (Dromcollogher/Broadford); W O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh), G Hegarty (St Patrick’s); C Sheehan (Newcastlewest), J Mullins (St Patrick’s), K Ryan (Mungret); E Quinlan (Monaleen), J English (Adare), K Moore (Glin).
Subs: J Naughton (St Senan’s) for J English (38), K Stephenson (St Patrick’s) for Ryan (45), G Reidy (Newcastlewest) for Quinlan (54), D Daly (Fr Casey’s) for Moore (59).
Referee: S Joy (Kerry).
Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork,
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