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‘We live for nights like tonight’: Limerick boss O’Connor

O’Connor hailed "a great night for Limerick hurling" after his team were crowned Bord Gáis Energy Munster U21 hurling champions with an epic extra-time victory over Cork at the Gaelic Grounds last night.

The Treaty men eventually prevailed by 4-20 to 1-27 following 80 minutes of pulsating hurling with senior star, Declan Hannon, fired home the decisive goal in the second half of extra-time to break the Rebel’s resistance in the latest of classic matches at the U21 grade.

“It was heart-stopping stuff but it's absolutely tremendous,” said O’Connor after guiding Limerick to their first provincial title at the grade since 2002. “We live for nights like tonight and this is a great night for Limerick hurling.”

2010 Young Footballer of the Year, Cork’s Aidan Walsh, embellished his reputation as a hurler of massive ability with a barnstorming first half and deservedly claimed the Man of the Match award after amassing a brilliant personal haul of 0-8 from play over the course of the match.

His most decisive score, however, was the monster injury-time effort which forced extra-time when it looked like the home side would squeak home. Cork actually led by 0-12 to 1-7 at the break having rallied following a Graeme Mulcahy goal after just 20 seconds.

But a second-half surge from Limerick featuring quick-fire goals from Seán O’Brien and Mulcahy forced them back into a position of superiority before Cork senior, Luke O’Farrell, plundered the Rebels’ only goal. It was Walsh who forced extra-time though, with a massive point from inside his own half and therein, four points from Jamie Coughlan forced Cork into a 1-26 to 3-17 half-time extra-time lead.

“We said to the lads at half-time of extra-time when we were three points down that we'd ten minutes left and to give it everything,” explained O’Connor. “That's what we did and that's why we are where we are.”

Hannon’s late intervention sparked Limerick’s victory and they go on now to face Galway in their All-Ireland U21 semi-final on August 20 - Dublin face Antrim in other semi.

“We've got to get fellas feet back on the ground,” warned O’Connor, “and get them thinking about an All-Ireland semi-final and thinking about working again.”