Forget the existential challenge of watching a 2018 game in 2017, and disregard the bone-chilling rain, writes Michael Moynihan
Cork 1-21 Limerick 2-23
Occasions like Saturday night’s Co-op Superstores Munster SHL clash between Cork and Limerick really exist to offer a glimpse of the future.
A more seasoned visiting side had five points to spare over Cork at the final whistle, but the 1,364 in attendance were more interested in signposts to the summer.
Exhibit A: Aaron Gillane of Limerick, who made the most of a slightly different posting to end with 1-9.
“You can’t ignore that, he threatened, especially in the inside line,” said Limerick manager John Kiely.
“He’s normally at ten with the clubs, the U21s, so we said we’d try him in the inside line tonight. It was interesting - he’s a threat, and he likes it inside there.”
Exhibit B: impressive young Sars forward Jack O’Connor, who crashed home Cork’s only goal.
“Super, he’s a good young lad,” said new Cork manager John Meyler.
“The conditions, the heavy going, probably don’t suit him and we were thinking of resting him, but we were just caught tonight. He’s a talent and I’m delighted with his performance.
“Christopher Joyce was our only player who lined out against Waterford in the All-Ireland semi-final last year, so it’s a learning curve for those fellas, a good experience for them.”
Gillane got Limerick’s goal on ten minutes and that was the difference between the sides at the half, more or less, when Limerick led 1-13 to 0-12.
The experience of Declan Hannon and Cian Lynch kept them in control after the break until O’Connor’s fine finish levelled matters at 1-18 each with twelve minutes left. Gillane responded with two points and a Seamus Flanagan goal made the game safe for Limerick, however.
“I’m pleased with the performance,” said Meyler.
“We had a lot of people out there who were playing their first game for Cork. We stuck in there to the end and Limerick were able to get scores that little bit easier, but we came back well and got some good scores.
“That’s the whole idea, to find players for the (national) league, that’s coming up in four weeks’ time, and the championship then. A few players put their hands up tonight and we have a couple of games next weekend as well.
“We’re probably not hurling match-fit at the moment so I was happy with the performance.”
Kiely echoed his Cork counterpart on the players’ touch and sharpness: “We’re both just getting back on the horse after a long break, you could see the game was error-ridden, a lot of scores came about through mistakes, whether those were dropped balls or balls not controlled, fellas getting caught in possession, a bit of over-elaboration.
“But overall it was a good workout for both teams, given the time of year.
“Both sides went at it fairly hammer and tongs and at this stage that’s all people want, a good game or two under the belt.” Meyler was already looking to next weekend’s game with Clare.
“Last year we got Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon, those fellas, and other fellas put their hands up. We’ll go again against Clare next weekend. Robbie (O’Flynn) got a bang on the ear and was a bit dizzy, Daniel Kearney’s back was at him.
“The important thing is that those players would be out next week so you’re looking for players to back them up.”
Kiely was also looking down the line: “We coughed up some soft enough opportunities from errors, bits and pieces, and you get punished when you make those mistakes at this level. We’ll both look to improve in the coming weeks - we’ve plenty of games coming up, and we’ll probably do some hard training in the next few weeks.
“I don’t think any of us have a lot of hurling done, so that’ll create errors.”
Scorers for Cork:
J. O’Connor (1-2), R. O’Shea (0-1 free) (0-5); E. Finn (0-4 each); D. Brosnan (0-3); C. Joyce (0-2); D. Kearney, R. O’Flynn, B. Lawton, B. Murray, P. Collins (free) (0-1 each).
Scorers for Limerick:
A. Gillane (1-9, 0-5 frees); S. Flanagan (1-3); T. Morrisey (0-4); B. Nash, D. Byrnes (0-2 each); P. Browne, P. Ryan, C. Lynch (0-1 each).
P. Collins, S. O’Donoghue, D. Griffin, E. Murphy, C. O’Leary, D. Browne, S. Murphy, B. Lawton (c), D. Kearney, R. O’Flynn, D. Brosnan, R. O’Shea, E. Finn, J. O’Connor.
B. Murray for O’Flynn (inj., 27); R. Cahalane for Kearney (inj, 33); W. Kearney for E. Murphy (HT); C. Joyce for O’Donoghue (blood 42-50); C. Joyce for S. Murphy (60).
N. Quaid, S. Finn, S. Hickey, R. English, D. Byrnes, D. Hannon (c), D. Morrissey, P. Browne, P. Ryan, D. O’Donovan, C. Lynch, T. Morrissey, A. Gillane, S. Flanagan, B. Nash.
T. Condon for Hickey (HT); C. Ryan for P. Ryan (46); D. Reidy for O’Donovan (50); B. Murphy for Nash (58); O. Kiely for T. Morrissey (66).
P. Kelly (Tipperary).
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