Returning 'leader' O'Connor steadies Cork ship
Cork 2-12 Limerick 0-10
Cork returned to the scene of the crime on Saturday and went some way towards making up for last month’s shock Munster semi-final defeat to Tipperary.
The Rebels eased past Limerick in this round 2B qualifier to keep their season alive, as Alan O’Connor’s comeback after a year out helped steady the ship.
Midfielder O’Connor was excellent alongside Ian Maguire, while up front, Peter Kelleher provided a real fulcrum on the edge of the square.
When Kelleher came on against Tipp, he caused all sorts of problems and the vast majority of Cork fans wondered why he didn’t start on that occasion. But he was in for a full championship debut at Semple Stadium, and he scored a goal and could have had two more.
O’Connor went for an hour and his contribution pleased selector Eoin O’Neill, who said: “Absolutely, you know what you’re getting with Alan, he’s won a lot with Cork over the years.
“We’ve missed him when he hasn’t been available to us, no point saying otherwise. He has a presence and he’s a leader.”
It was a good afternoon too for skipper Paul Kerrigan (1-3) and Mark Collins, who bagged five points from play.
At the back, Cork looked far more solid and assured, with Limerick dangerman Ian Ryan unusually quiet.
Limerick were held to just six points from play as they produced a display a couple of notches down on that memorable victory in Antrim.
Defeat led to inevitable questions about John Brudair’s future and after three years at the helm, his position is subject to annual review.
It’s been a tough year for Limerick, relegated to Division 4 and now out of the championship in early July. And Brudair admitted: “Disappointing, especially after the last day.
“Today, we never really performed for some reason. We seemed to be chasing the game the whole time.
“We’re lacking certain qualities at the moment – we have no massive height in midfield, it puts us under massive pressure to win primary ball.”
Cork led by 1-6 to 0-4 at half-time, Kelleher with the goal, and had little difficulty in closing the game out.
A host of other goal chances were spurned, with Limerick goalkeeper Donal O’Sullivan performing heroics to stop Colm O’Neill’s early penalty and a point-blank Kelleher effort in the second half.
He was, however, powerless to prevent Kerrigan scoring Cork’s second goal in stoppage-time.
Scorers – Cork: P Kerrigan 1-3, M Collins 0-5, P Kelleher 1-0, C O’Neill (f), L Connolly (f), J O’Rourke, M Hurley 0-1 each. Limerick: I Ryan 0-4 (3fs), D Treacy, I Corbett 0-2 each, S McSweeney (f), S Buckley 0-1 each.
CORK – R Price 6; C O’Driscoll 7, E Cadogan 7, N Galvin 7; T Clancy 7, J Loughrey 7, B O’Driscoll 6; A O’Connor 8, I Maguire 8; P Kerrigan 8, M Collins 8, K O’Driscoll 7; C O’Neill 6, P Kelleher 8, L Connolly 7. Subs: S Powter 7 for B O’Driscoll (h-t), D Goulding 6 for O’Neill (46), J O’Rourke 7 for Connolly (49), R Deane 6 for O’Connor (60), M Hurley NR for K O’Driscoll (65), P Kelly NR for Kelleher (68).
LIMERICK – D O’Sullivan 8; P Browne 6, S Cahill 7, J McCarthy 6; P Ranahan 5, S O’Dea 5, B Fanning 6; S Buckley 7, D Treacy 7; G Noonan 6, P Nash 6, T Childs 5; H Bourke 5, I Ryan 6, S McSweeney 5. Subs: I Corbett 7 for Childs (27), E Hogan 6 for McSweeney (47), P White 6 for Ranahan (52), P Scanlan 6 for Bourke (55), J Naughton NR for Nash (63), K Ryan NR for O’Dea (69).
Ref – N Mooney (Cavan).