Kiely hails Limerick 'pride' as 14 men refuse to yield
Cork 1-25 Limerick 0-28
Hurling's gift for enchantment seems endless, an epic match on a glorious Saturday evening on Leeside leaving a crowd of almost 35,000 spellbound, with two teams emptying themselves of all they had.
After an avalanche of scores and innumerable twists and turns, Limerick rescued a draw with a minute of injury-time left. Mark Ellis cleared under severe pressure and the ball came to Kyle Hayes who speared the posts.
Typical of a restless narrative, there was still time for another diversion. Cork attacked and when Seamus Harnedy got the ball and began moving across the field looking for room to strike, Limerick looked doomed. Up stepped Seán Finn with a full stretch one-handed block and with that the match was finally done.
Cork were playing their third match in 13 days and made a late rally to almost win the game, having been three points down with five minutes to go. But Limerick's benefit of a fortnight's rest was offset by the 26th-minute red card dismissal of Aaron Gillane for witlessly striking Seán O'Donoghue.
Limerick, soon to be three points down, had all the excuses but they refused to blink. They hurled like demons from there to the end and could have won.
"Pride I suppose is the probably the most over-riding feeling that I have," said Limerick manager John Kiely, "... because they just never panicked even though they fell behind a few times."
With Gillane gone, Tom Morrissey took their frees and missed nothing, ending up with 0-9, including four from play. He was immense, his best display to date. Seamus Flanagan scored five points and set up three more. Cork tried three different markers on him before he went off injured with five minutes left. Graeme Mulcahy worked himself to a standstill.
For most of the second half then, Limerick had the more persuasive demeanour. They trailed 0-14 to 0-12 at the interval and were three points down on the restart but Morrissey, Cian Lynch and Mulcahy scored to level the teams for the sixth time with 41 minutes played.
In the 44th minute, they received another blow when they lost possession carelessly and Seamus Harnedy picked out the majestic Patrick Horgan, impeccable again on the placed ball, and scorer of 1-11 in total. Horgan brushed past Richie English and finished unerringly for the game's only goal. After trading points, Limerick reeled Cork back in, two from Flanagan and one by Darragh O'Donovan after a pinpoint Nickie Quaid puck-out. By the 51st minute, another Flanagan point had Limerick in front. Horgan levelled but three more Limerick scores, the last from Hayes after Anthony Nash's puck-out was misplaced, left Limerick three ahead on the hour mark.
Horgan replied with two frees and then Dan Morrissey hit a massive score and his brother Tom had a free to reopen three-point lead.
From there Cork dug deep. Points from Conor Lehane, Horgan, and two from Darragh Fitzgibbon, who had an outstanding match, shot Cork in front with normal time up. Diarmuid Byrne levelled from a free, Horgan replied and then Hayes had the last say.
Limerick's draw was all the more noteworthy as they lost Declan Hannon after just seven minutes, with Dan Morrissey going to centre-back and debutant William O'Donoghue coming on.
"You saw we lost Declan very early on today and William O'Donoghue played in seamlessly, knew his role exactly on the team," said Dan Morrissey. "We'd be confident whoever we lose on the team there is somebody there in the subs to fill in and do just as good a job as that."
Cork showed mettle too. "But for us to come back with three points there at the end and show fantastic character and we showed that last week against Tipperary as well," as John Meyler stated. "Playing three games in 13 days was hard but the lads really rose to the occasion in the last five or 10 minutes."
Mark Coleman went sweeper after the sending-off and Cork were unable to really make it count. Conor Lehane hit 0-3 but Harnedy was quiet by his standards and Shane Kingston substituted.
Fatigue is an acceptable excuse given their punishing schedule. They are still unbeaten however and have time now to prepare for Waterford in two weeks.
Scorers - Cork: P Horgan 1-11 (8f, 1 '65); D Fitzgibbon 0-4; C Lehane 0-3; S Kingston, D Kearney 0-2; C Spillane, M Coleman, L Meade 0-1. Limerick: T Morrissey 0-9 (5f); S Flanagan 0-5; C Lynch 0-3; D Byrnes (both fs), D O'Donovan, K Hayes, G Mulcahy 0-2, A Gillane (f), G Hegarty, D Morrissey 0-1.
Cork - A Nash 7; S O'Donoghue 6, D Cahalane 6, C Spillane 7; C Joyce 7, M Coleman 7, M Ellis 7; D Fitzgibbon 9, B Cooper 7; C Lehane 8, D Brosnan 6, D Kearney 7; S Kingston 7, S Harnedy 7, P Horgan 9. Subs: L Meade 7 & T O'Mahony 7 for Brosnan & O'Donoghue (h-t); M Cahalane 7 for Kingston (60); J Coughlan (N/R) for Lehane (73).
Limerick - N Quaid 7; S Finn 8, M Casey 7, R English 7; D Byrnes 7, D Hannon 7, D Morrissey 8; D O'Donovan 8, C Lynch 8; G Hegarty 7, K Hayes 7, T Morrissey 9; S Flanagan 9, A Gillane 5, G Mulcahy 8. Subs: William O'Donoghue 7 for Hannon (inj 7 mins); D Dempsey 6 for Hegarty (55); P Browne 7 for O'Donovan (61); B Nash 7 for Mulcahy (62); P Ryan 6 for Flanagan (inj 64).
Ref - J Owens (Wexford)