McCarthy hails Hurley's impact as Cork stroll to victory
Munster SFC semi-final: Cork 3-18 Limerick 0-6
Cork manager Ronan McCarthy paid tribute to two-goal hero Brian Hurley as the Rebels saw off Limerick at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening to ease their way to the final.
A blistering start saw the hosts lead by 2-1 to nil after five minutes, 27-year-old Hurley with both goals, while Ruairí Deane added another before the first quarter-hour had elapsed.
By half-time the home side were 3-8 to 0-2 to the good, banishing any fears that Limerick might repeat their seven-point win over Tipperary.
Hurley has missed a lot of football over the past three years, having been ravaged by hamstring injuries, and McCarthy was delighted to see him back to near his best.
"I think people underestimate what a loss he has been to Cork football over the last two to three years," he said.
"It's not just the quality of his forward play, it's his workrate off the ball for his team-mates, it's his absolute love and passion for Cork football and his attitude. It is infectious and raises standards in training and everything else.
"He's been a seismic loss to Cork football over the last couple of years. He's not fully back yet, he's obviously making great progress and you can see the benefit of being 12 months of football on from last year.
"He's certainly moving very well but we have to mind him and be careful with him.
"The beauty of Brian is that, at this stage, he's old enough to know that if he's at training on a given night and he's not right, he'll step out of it and we leave that up to him.
"He's minding himself well and we're minding him well. Every team should have one of him."
Deane provided the final pass for both of Hurley's goals and the lead stretched to 3-7 to nil when Mark Collins pointed in the 22nd minute, meaning that all six starting Cork forwards had got on the scoresheet.
They would undergo 14 minutes without a score between there and just before half-time - Hurley firing a penalty off the post on 33 minutes - while Séamus O'Carroll had two points to get Limerick going.
Collins finished the half with his fifth for Cork and added three more on the resumption, after changes on both sides, and the inevitability of the outcome meant the second-half was a more sedate affair.
The battle for places, though, meant that McCarthy didn't have to remind his players to let up.
"I would have felt it was easy enough," he said. "Obviously, at that point we had more than one foot in the Munster final and the message to guys is that, 'if you want to slacken off, off you go, but there are other guys coming to look for your place'.
"We have Tom Clancy from Fermoy, Seán White, Stephen Cronin, Michael Hurley, they'll have a big say in this team and this panel in training for the next couple of weeks. They didn't get on tonight and they're not going to take that lightly.
"Fellas know there's competition for places so that means that they keep driving on."
Limerick keeper Donal O'Sullivan did kick three long-range frees, while Ian Maguire, Matthew Taylor and sub Stephen Sherlock added further Cork points. However, 21 points separated the sides at the end, leaving McCarthy looking to a Munster final against Kerry on June 22.
"I don't know whether that would do or not against Kerry," he said.
"Let's not look too far ahead, let's focus on getting the prep right for the next couple of weeks, getting back in on Tuesday night and recovering fairly quickly.
"After that, it's about building up the intensity in training and then we'll look at the Kerry game and the opposition.
"The key thing here is that we're looking forward to it."
Scorers - Cork: M Collins 0-9 (5f), B Hurley 2-0, R Deane 1-0, E McSweeney 0-3, M Taylor 0-2, P Kerrigan, I Maguire, S Sherlock, J O'Rourke 0-1 each. Limerick: D O'Sullivan 0-3 (2 '45s, 1f), S O'Carroll 0-2, J Lee 0-1f.
CORK - M White 7; N Walsh 8, J Loughrey 7, K Flahive 7; L O'Donovan 7, T Clancy 7, M Taylor 8; I Maguire 8, K O'Hanlon 7; E McSweeney 8, R Deane 9, P Kerrigan 7; J O'Rourke 7, B Hurley 8, M Collins 9. Subs: A Browne 7 for Loughrey (39), S Sherlock 7 for Hurley (45), L Connolly 6 for O'Rourke (46), K O'Driscoll 6 for Deane (52), K O'Donovan 6 for Clancy (57), R O'Toole 7 for Maguire (61).
LIMERICK - D O'Sullivan 7; B Fanning 6, S O'Dea 5, C McSweeney 6; P Maher 6, I Corbett 5, G Brown 5; D Treacy 5, T Childs 6; M Fitzgibbon 5, C Fahy 5, A Enright 6; S McSweeney 5, S O'Carroll 6, J Lee 5. Subs: P Nash 5 for Enright, J Naughton 6 for McSweeney, T McCarthy 6 for Brown (all half-time), P de Brún 6 for Fahy (45), G Noonan 5 for McSweeney, R Lynch 5 for Fitzgibbon (both 56).
Ref - B Cawley (Kildare).