Cork 2-17 Limerick 0-22
CORK made it two wins on the spin against All-Ireland champions Limerick in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last night. Having beaten them by one point in the Munster League last month, they again had a point to spare in this opening-round fixture in the Allianz League with substitute Shane Kingston hitting the winning score three seconds from the final whistle.
It is the perfect start for Cork’s new boss Pat Ryan, but nobody was celebrating afterwards, and the victory came at a price as Robbie O’Flynn, whose 40th-minute goal sparked the Cork revival, was stretchered off near the end. Veteran Patrick Horgan top-scored with 0-10 as the home side recovered from an eight-point half-time deficit.
Limerick obviously haven’t as much physical work done as their opponents, and they ran out of stream in the second half — they were outscored 2-9 to 0-8.
Last season they lost their first three league ties — including a nine-point home defeat to the Rebels — and drew the next one. But when it mattered in the championship, they were unbeatable.
So, the first rule of thumb in the hurling league is that is it wise to ignore results and focus on form. But on that score new Cork boss Ryan will be particularly pleased with the performance of rookie full-back Eoin Downey.
The first score from play didn’t arrive until the 11th minute courtesy of Gearóid Hegarty but O’Flynn brought the big home support in the attendance of 19,516 to their feet when he burned the Limerick defence with a searing run, but his final shot flew across the face of the goal.
It was 0-8 to 0-5 at the end of the first quarter, though Cork had chalked up seven wides compared to one for the visitors. Nonetheless, the new-look Cork full-back line was doing well though they lost the experienced Seán O’Donoghue six minutes before the break.
The growing confidence of Downey was underlined in the 28th minute when he ventured forward and scored his first point at this level. But Cork’s decision not to man-mark Hegarty was puzzling and by the 22nd minute he had 0-3 to his credit.
Limerick had a better puck-out strategy than Cork and they pushed on towards the end of the first half, hitting six on the spin including a brilliant Séamus Flanagan effort from the sideline to lead by double scores at the break (0-16 to 0-8) after hitting more than twice as many scores from play as Cork.
Cork needed a big response, and it came within five minutes of the resumption when Ciarán Joyce picked out an unmarked Declan Dalton on the stand side and he linked up with O’Flynn who fired an unstoppable shot to the roof of the Limerick net.
A rejuvenated Horgan added two points before an opportunistic goal from Dalton after O’Flynn did the spadework levelled the tie in the 46th minute.
Not surprisingly, the goal gave the home side fresh energy and a monster long-range point from Joyce gave them the lead for the first time 15 minutes from the end.
Limerick introduced former Hurler of the Year Cian Lynch ten minutes from the end. But the game was then halted for six minutes as O’Flynn received treatment on the field before he was stretchered off with what appeared to be a serious injury to his right ankle.
The sides were level (2-14 to 0-20) as the game entered injury-time — there were ten minutes scheduled. Limerick went two up; Cork levelled and both sides missed a chance each before three seconds from the end, Kingston hit the winning point for the Rebels to send the Cork fans home happy.
Cork: P Horgan 0-10 (5f, 1 65), R O’Flynn 1-1, D Dalton 1-0, B Roche, L Meade, E Downey, C Joyce C Lehane, S Kington 0-1.
Limerick: D Reidy 0-8 (6f, 165), G Hegarty 0-3, C Coughlan, A English 0-2, D Hannon, B Murphy, D O’Donovan,T Morrissey, S Flanagan, C Barry D O Dalaigh 0-1 each.
Cork: P Collins; C O’Callaghan, E Downey, S O’Donoghue; T O’Connell, C Joyce, D Cahalane; B O’Sullivan, L Meade; B Roche, C Lehane, C Beausang; D Dalton, P Horgan, R O’Flynn.
Subs: N O’Leary for O’Donoghue 29; S Kingston for Beausang 40; S Barrett for O’Sullivan 44; B Hayes for Dalton 55; C Cahalane for O’Flynn 62,
Limerick: D McCarthy; S Finn, R English, A Costelloe; D Morrissey, D Hannon (c), C Coughlan; D O’Donovan, B Murphy; G Hegarty, D Reidy, T Morrissey; A English, S Flanagan, O O’Reilly.
Subs: C Barry for Hannon 48; S O’Brien for O’Reilly 50, G Mulcahy for English 55, C Lynch for Hegarty 59; D O’Dalaigh for Flanagan 70,
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)