Goals keep Limerick on course for Banner date
Limerick 3-17 Cork 0-18
Limerick made it two wins from two in the Munster SHL thanks to a great ability to create and take goal chances at Mallow.
Having beaten Kerry a fortnight ago, Limerick now know that a third win, against Waterford tomorrow night in Mallow again, will secure them a place in the final against Clare, regardless of the result against the Banner next weekend.
Key for TJ Ryan's side here was the timing of their goals, particularly the first two. Graeme Mulcahy struck first in the 19th minute, profiting from Cian Lynch's fine pass to fire home and make it 1-7 to 0-3.
While Paudie O'Sullivan and Patrick Cronin contributed points for Cork, they struggled against the wind in the first half and at half-time it was 1-11 to 0-7 for the visitors.
With the elements behind them, Cork were revitalised on the resumption and they reeled off five unanswered points, from Conor Lehane, O'Sullivan, sub Patrick Horgan, William Leahy and a huge effort from halfway by Cronin.
That had them to within two points but they also registered a few worrying wides and then Hannon replied with a Limerick free before scoring the second goal.
Wing-forward David Reidy was the architect, his surging run troubling the Cork defence before he offloaded to Hannon, who gave Anthony Nash no chance with a shot to top corner of the net.
That made it 2-12 to 0-12 and, with no signs of Cork breaching the visitors' rearguard to create a goal chance of their own, there was an inevitability about the final 20 minutes. Mulcahy and Lynch tested Nash in the closing stages, while Darragh O'Donovan got the third goal on 55 after Pat Ryan had done well coming in along the endline.
Paudie O'Sullivan did add a few late Cork points but seven was the lowest they reduced the margin to, with Limerick sub Paul Browne having the final say.
The Shannonsiders had begun well in the first half, despite initially falling behind to Cronin's opening point. Three Hannon frees, coupled with nice scores from Lynch and Mulcahy, put them in control. A good individual point from Cronin and then Conor Lehane's fine effort made it 0-5 to 0-3, but it proved to be emblematic of the game as a whole, Cork coming close before Limerick then pulled away.
Lynch, from Séamus Hickey's pass, and then Mulcahy made it 0-7 to 0-3 before the two players combined for Mulcahy's goal. Lynch went close to adding another goal soon after that but had to be happy with a point, while Hannon continued to be accurate from frees.
While Cork might have suggested a closer game with their good start to the second half, Limerick had the bigger plays when it counted.
"We were seven up at half-time," said Limerick manager Ryan afterwards, who also confirmed that former captain Donal O'Grady has retired from intercounty activity. "We wanted it, with the wind. We showed a bit of heart, a bit of character, and we got that. 3-17 is good scoring any time of year, and any time you come to Cork and win you'd be happy too. We have a lot of young fellas in this year.
"I like this competition because you've a couple of games, there'll be different names in our team tomorrow night, so it's building for the future and for February 13 at home to Wexford [National League]. We want to make sure we're right for that."
While Cork can't now make the final, selector Pat Ryan was pleased with the competition as a whole.
"The league has been good for us," he said, "we've been able to see a lot of players and we're a new management team as well, but the three goals, that's something that's been happening to Cork for a few years and it's something we plan to sort."
Scorers - Limerick: D Hannon 1-9 (7f, 1 '65), G Mulcahy 1-2, C Lynch 0-3, D O'Donovan 1-0, P Ryan, D Reidy, P Browne 0-1 each.
Cork: Paudie O'Sullivan 0-7 (5f, 1 '65), P Cronin 0-4, C Lehane 0-3, W Leahy 0-2, P Haughney, P Horgan 0-1 each.
LIMERICK - B Hennessy; T Condon, D Morrissey, R English; S O'Brien, B O'Connell, S Hickey; J Ryan, P Ryan; D O'Donovan, C Lynch, D Reidy; T O'Brien, D Hannon, G Mulcahy. Subs: R McCarthy for Morrissey (49), J Fitzgibbon for T O'Brien (49), W McNamara O'Connell (61), P Browne for Mulcahy (61), J Riordan for J Ryan (67).
CORK - A Nash; Patrick O'Sullivan, P O'Mahony, C O'Sullivan; S O'Neill, C Twomey, N Cashman; P Haughney, C Cormack; D Brosnan, Paudie O'Sullivan, P Cronin; L Meade, W Leahy, C Lehane. Subs: P Horgan for Meade (h-t), W Egan for Brosnan (49), C Murphy for Patrick O'Sullivan (57), D Cahalane for Cormack (62), P O'Rourke for Leahy (65).
Ref - T Walsh (Waterford)