Thursday 20 June 2019

First half blitz seals victory

Munster SFC Semi-Final: Cork 3-18 Limerick 0-6

Paul Kerrigan of Cork in action against Liam O’Donovan of Limerick during the Munster
GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final match between Cork and Limerick at Páirc Ui Rinn. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Paul Kerrigan of Cork in action against Liam O’Donovan of Limerick during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final match between Cork and Limerick at Páirc Ui Rinn. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Diarmuid Sheehan, Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Few saw Limerick troubling Cork to any great extent in the surprise pairing of the two counties in last Saturday night's provincial semi-final, but even fewer would have predicted such a gap between the sides - particularly after only 12 minutes. Cork 10 points to the good at that point.

Led on the pitch by the hugely impressive Ruairí Deane, Cork pulled out all the stops to thrill what was a very credible attendance of 3,128 paying customers - some credit for that figure must also go to the equally impressive ladies football side that demolished neighbours Kerry in the curtain raiser.

Deane was magnificent on the night - probably his best ever display in a Cork jersey, as he dominated most aspects of Cork's attacking endeavour while also providing a first line of defence from the home side's half-forward line.

The Bantry man may have been on top form, but he wasn't the only player to show his wares as Mallow's Mattie Taylor and Castlehaven's full-forward line double act of Mark Collins and Brian Hurley also dominated.

Another man to catch the eye for Cork was debutant Eoghan McSweeney of Knocknagree who bagged three really good points during what was an almost perfect start to the young North Cork man's first senior championship cap.

At the back another new man Nathan Wall was also really good at the back as was another Mallow man, James Loughrey, who was his usual industrious and dogged self before being withdrawn in the 39th minute.

From the throw in Cork found themselves scrambling as Limerick corner-forward Seán McSweeney got on the end of a clinical ball only to find his subsequent shot parried from Cork keeper Mark White onto the crossbar.

The home side escaped and surged up the pitch registering the first score of the game - a free from corner-forward Collins.

Cork seemed up for this one in every challenge and hit the visitors with the game's first major, a goal from Hurley on four minutes. A brilliant through ball from Deane put Hurley through and the Castlehaven man was never going to miss what was a gilt edged chance.

Things got even better for Cork and Hurley 60 seconds later when the number 14 cut in from the left to raise the game's second green flag.

Cork were rocking now and points from Eoghan McSweeney and John O'Rourke had the rebels 10 points clear by the 12th minute.

Cork looked to be in no mood to take their collective foot off the gas and a now rampant Deane bagged the third three pointer of the game when he finished off a brilliant solo effort that saw him dance his way through a totally overwhelmed Limerick back seven.

By the time Paul Kerrigan managed his first score of the game, a point on 20 minutes, all of Cork's front six had scored and all looked to be pushing hard to increase both their personal and team tally. Collins hit his fourth of the half, his first from play on 22 minutes and cork led by a staggering 16 points 3-7 to 0-2.

Limerick were bound to trouble the scoreboard at some stage and a brace of late points from their full-forward Seamus O'Carroll put a little respectability on what was a terrible opening 35 for the Treaty side.

Hurley could have got his hat trick a minute before the interval however a good save from Limerick keeper Donal O'Sullivan from the penalty spot saved his defenders' blushes after Hurley had been brought down when bearing down on goal. A last minute free from Collins sent Cork in at the interval all but through to the provincial final 3-8 to 0-2.

There was little or no chance that Cork were going to be willing or able to keep the same pace going for the second period so it was no surprise that the intensity and scoring levels dropped to something akin to a more normal encounter.

McSweeney impressed with some second half scores, as did Collins and Cork cruised to what was one of their best performances and wins in a number of years. Roll on Kerry in the Munster Final where Cork will need to be even better if they are to get close to retaking a long overdue Munster crown.

CORK: M White; N Walsh, J Loughrey, K Flahive; L O'Donovan, Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty), M Taylor 0-2; I Maguire 0-1, K O'Hanlon; E McSweeney 0-3, R Deane 1-0, P Kerrigan 0-1; J O'Rourke 0-1, B Hurley 2-0, M Collins 09 (5f) Subs: A Browne for J Loughrey (38); S Sherlock 0-1 for B Hurley (44); L Connolly for J O'Rourke (46); K O'Driscoll for R Deane (51); K O'Donovan for T Clancy (57); R O'Toole for I Maguire (60)

LIMERICK: D. O'Sullivan 0-3 (3, 45s); B Fanning, S O'Dea, P Maher; C McSweeney, I Corbett, G Brown; D Treacy, T Childs; A Enright, C Fahy, M Fitzgibbon; S McSweeney, S O'Carroll 0-2, J Lee 0-1f Subs: P Nash for A Enright (HT); T McCarthy for G Brown (HT); J Naughton for S McSweeney (HT); P de Brun for Cillian Fahy (44); G Noonan for C McSweeney (55); R Lynch for M Fitzgibbon (56)

Referee: B Cawley (Kildare)


The game in 60 seconds

Man of the Match

Brian Hurley's two first half goals will obviously mark him down as one of the main contenders with his club mate and fellow forward Mark Collins another to impress in front of the posts but on this occasion the performance given by Ruairí Deane stood head and shoulder above the rest.

Turning Point

There was none. From the second minute Cork were impressive. The Rebels showed nothing other than ruthlessness in the opening half and an ability to cruise to the finish in the second period. Limerick were just nowhere near being good enough on the night.

Talking Point

The level of performance from Cork was a breath of fresh air for Cork's football loving fans. Cork came flying out of the traps and showed a clinical and ruthless nature that has in truth been lacking for far too long. Cork have a long way to go to win back many fans that have deserted, but this display will create some hype for the impending Munster Final against Kerry.


We often look at the referees to highlight the errors made however on this occasion Brendan Cawley was well on top of his brief. Hardly the toughest of tests for the Kildare man but didn't have any major influence on the game other than calling a penalty for Cork when it was warranted.