No complaints after a thriller
Munster SHC Round 3: Cork 1-25 Limerick 0-28
Days after the Munster Senior hurling Championship encounter between Cork and Limerick in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and hurling fans around the country are still talking about the fare that was served up by two of the most exciting teams in the land right now.
Limerick came in last Saturday night with high hopes and plenty fans and neutrals believing this is a side that can go places, perhaps, even all the way to Croker, while for Cork fans, nervousness was the order of the day as people wondered which Cork would show up.
Would it be the one that obliterated Tipperary for the first 35 minutes the previous Sunday or the one that was ravaged for half of the second half in the same game? As it happens it was neither. It was still a pacey side with an exciting flare and an eye for the posts but there was more grit and more of a battling quality to the Rebels last weekend.
Right from the off this one had classic written all over it. Points galore, a sending off late in the first half and some sensational individual displays that will already see some names being pencilled in for All Stars.
Cork had a strong line up with just Luke Meade missing out from the previous weekend's festivities in Thurles, while Limerick came in with an equally impressive 15 after a weekend off.
Cork's Daniel Kearney, Shane Kingston and Seamus Harnedy came to the Páirc with plenty of form on their side, however, on this day it would be the old guard of Patrick Horgan that would again be the main talisman while Charleville's Darragh Fitzgibbon was another to shine from the middle.
At the back Mark Coleman showed yet again that he is probably the best wing-back in the country right now, while the full-back line of Sean O'Donoghue, Damien Cahalane and Colm Spillane gave a stellar defensive outing.
For the Treaty side Darragh O'Donovan in the middle, Tom Morrissey at wing-forward and full-forward Seamus Flanagan all showed brilliantly with the latter probably taking Man of the Match, well in my eyes anyway.
This game exploded into life with points reigning in from all angles and all distances. The pick of the early scores had to be from Coleman who landed yet another monster score as Cork looked in good shape.
The sending off of Aaron Gillane on 27 minutes for an ill-advised strike on O'Donoghue looked like it would be the main talking point however credit to Limerick they battled on and only trailed by two at the turn. 0-14 to 0-12.
Limerick had the game level by the 41st minute however a clinical finish to the net from Cork's scoring machine, Horgan, again put the home side in control.
Limerick rallied and this one became a real dogfight with so much passion, skill and commitment to each cause replicated in the stands and on the terraces by all of 35,000 souls.
The game swung left and right with Limerick looking like they had done enough by the 65th minute - three points to the good, but yet again Cork hit back and points from Conor Lehane, Fitzgibbon and Horgan had the sides level in a huge two minute spell.
Fitzgibbon landed a monster to put Cork back in front as the game entered the final minute however the Shannon-siders were not going to leave empty handed and two points, a late one from Kyle Hayes deservedly split the spoils.
Plenty to ponder after a game like this however one little question was answered. Is the new Munster Championship format a good thing? Hell yes, it is fantastic.
CORK: A Nash; S O'Donoghue, D Cahalane, C Spillane (0-01); M Ellis, C Joyce, M Coleman 0-1; D Fitzgibbon 0-4, B Cooper; C Lehane 0-3, D Brosnan, D Kearney 0-2; P Horgan 1-11 (0-8f, 0-1 65), S Harnedy, S Kingston 0-2 Subs: T O'Mahony for O'Donoghue, L Meade 0-1 for Brosnan (both half-time), M Cahalane for Kingston (60), J Coughlan for Lehane (70)
LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Finn, M Casey, R English; D Byrnes 0-2f, D Hannon, D Morrissey 0-1; D O'Donovan 0-2, C Lynch 0-3; T Morrissey 0-9 (0-5f), K Hayes 0-2, G Hegarty 0-1; S Flanagan 0-5, A Gillane 0-1f, G Mulcahy 0-2 Subs: W O'Donoghue for Hannon (7), D Dempsey for Hegarty (55), P Browne for O'Donovan (61), B Murphy for Mulcahy (62), P Ryan for Flanagan (64)
Referee: J Owens (Wexford)
How they fared
Cork's defence shipped scores from all of the front eight but in truth they marshalled their markers well, left no runners through and had no serious threat to their own goal over the 74 minutes or so.
Damien Cahalane had his work cut out for him, as did Sean O'Donoghue however both did well, as did Mark Coleman and Colm Spillane on the left. Mark Ellis played well again showing versatility.
All round solid display but too many fouls would be a concern.
Often seen as just the two starting on the centre line, the midfield is much more than that.
The midfield includes backs coming forward and forwards coming back and on this day it was very much even Steven with limerick. Darragh Fitzgibbon and Bill Copper were brilliant but so was Darragh O'Donovan and Cian Lynch.
The middle third was missed out for most of Cork's puck-outs as the short ball from Nash led to long missiles landing on Limerick's backline but when Limerick had the ball Cork did well enough.
Cork's forwards are missing Alan Cadogan however this cant remain or become an excuse.
There are plenty fabulous hurlers in Cork and right now we are seeing just that point confirmed. Corks front eight were too reliant on Patrick Horgan again and although Shane Kingston bagged three and Fitzgibbon got four, it was left up to the glen Rovers man to again keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Cork's attack did well enough last Saturday night but for long periods of the second half they were not firing on all cylinders. Thirteen wides, not all from the front it must be said, is far too many when your opponent only hits half dozen so there is another area to work on. All in all, good day at the office.
The game in 60 seconds
Man of The Match
Let's try to keep it simple. Many of the players that you would have expected to play well did and with the draw the honours could go anywhere. Tom Morrissey with nine points, five from play, is of course a contender with Cork's Patrick Horgan, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Mark Coleman also worthy of the award but on this night the influence of Limerick's Seamus Flanagan (five points from play) can't be ignored.
It should have been when Aaron Gillane got his marching orders on 27 minutes, but it wasn't. between the 48th and 50th minutes Limerick hit three quick points to tie the game up again and this one would stay in the melting pot to the finish. Two brilliant scores from Aaron Gillane and a long range effort from Darragh O'Donovan hauled limerick back.
Score of the Game
No question about it. A wonderful point from Mark Coleman on 30 minutes which saw him run half the length of the field to hit home a wonder point yet again showed just what class one of the best hurlers in the country has in spades.
Where to Now
Well, Cork get to sit back and watch the others come for them next week before squaring up to Waterford for an all or nothing clash the weekend after this. For Limerick, two more games in quick succession should see them into the provincial decider with the wind in their sails.