Experimental team defeated
Munster Senior Hurling League: Limerick 2-23 Cork 1-21
Limerick started their 2018 senior hurling season with a win before 2017 had even gone when they saw off Cork in Round 1 of the Munster Hurling League in Mallow last Saturday evening.
In front of 1,364 brave hurling fans the Treaty men put out a strong side which had all of 11 players that played in their final championship game of last season on show.
For the Rebels there was less familiarity with the names on display as the home side had no starter from their All Ireland semi-final defeat to Waterford on the pitch at throw in.
Cork also had plenty of new faces on the line with new manager John Meyler taking charge of his first competitive side since his elevation from the Under 21s in the off season.
This game was always going to be about experimentation for both Meyler and his charges and that was clearly evident from the off with the likes of Tim O'Mahony (Newtownshandrum) filling a berth at centre-back when the Avondhu man is more accustomed to showing his wares at the other end of the pitch.
Cork were also taking a look at the likes of David Griffin (Carrigaline) Eoghan Finn from St Finbarr's and Glen Rovers Dean Brosnan who all played their part in what was a more than useful exercise.
For Limerick, players such as Barry Nash (cousin of Cork's Anthony Nash, Aaron Gillane and Captain Declan Hannon brought familiarity to a side clearly looking to get their season off to the best possible start.
The men in green also had seriously impressive displays from the likes of Tom Morrissey at wing-forward and full-forward Seamus Flanagan who between them bagged 1-6 from play.
Limerick started brightly with two nice points inside a minute but Cork would respond with a quick brace of their own on three minutes to level things up. The sides traded the next four points before the game's first major intervention arrived.
A well worked move involving Limerick's Paul Browne saw Gillane smashing home the game's first goal. Cork stayed in touch almost to the break but couldn't get inside the three point cushion and Limerick added another opening up a four point gap on the stroke of half-time. 1-13 - 0-12.
The second half saw the leaders again hit first with another couple of points from Gillane and Pat Ryan before a hat-trick of scores from the men in red brought things back again to a more manageable three points difference.
Try as they may, Cork were unable to get back to parity - that was until the 60th minute when Cork's Jack O'Connor rifled home the game's levelling goal. At this point one would have been forgiven for thinking the momentum was with Cork and they might well go on to win however Limerick's experienced players settled the ship and pulled clear again with a 1-3 tally inside four minutes that would end this one as a contest.
Flanagan's goal was in truth no less than Limerick deserved as they looked to cruise through the last five minutes of the scheduled 70. Cork, to their credit, managed to keep their heads up and scored four of the last five points but this one was really done with Flanagan's green flag.
LIMERICK: N. Quaid, S. Finn, S. Hickey, R. English, D. Byrnes 0-2, D. Hannon (c), D. Morrissey, P. Browne 0-1, P. Ryan 0-1, D. O'Donovan, C. Lynch 0-1, T. Morrissey 0-4, A. Gillane 1-9 (5f), S. Flanagan 1-3, B. Nash 0-2 Subs: 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)
CORK: P. Collins 0-1f, S. O'Donoghue, D. Griffin, E. Murphy, C. O'Leary, D. Browne, S. Murphy, B. Lawton 0-1, D. Kearney 0-1, R. O'Flynn 0-1, D. Brosnan 0-3, R. O'Shea 0-5 (1f), E. Finn 0-4, J. O'Connor 1-2 Subs: B. Murray 0-1 for O'Flynn (inj, 27); R. Cahalane for Kearney (inj, 33); W. Kearney for E. Murphy (HT); C. Joyce for O'Donoghue (bs 42-50); C. Joyce 0-2 for S. Murphy (60)
Referee: P. Kelly (Tipperary).