Cork hurling boss Pat Ryan believes his team need to be scoring three or four goals in every match if they are to make an impact this season.
The brace his side did on Saturday night against All-Ireland champions Limerick was crucial as the home side began their league campaign with a 2-17 to 0-22 victory before an attendance of 19,516 in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“If we want to be doing anything this year we have to be getting three or four goals in every match. We got two today and we would like to be getting another one if we can,” said Ryan.
Robbie O’Flynn – whose 40th-minute goal kick-started the Cork revival (they trailed by eight points at the break) – won’t know the extent of any damage until he gets the results of an ankle X-ray.
The game was delayed for six minutes in the final quarter while O’Flynn was attended by medics before he had to be stretchered off.
In a hectic finish, four points on the spin from Limerick, who only scored 0-3 from play in the second half and six in total, looked set to secure the spoils for the visitors.
Cork, however, reeled off the last three points with substitute Shane Kingston firing over a brilliant angled effort for the winner three seconds from the end.
“In the second half we did match them for effort, and we were able to stick with them. And, look, maybe we had a couple of more seasoned campaigners to bring and got us over the line,” said Ryan.
He praised newcomers Conor O’Callaghan and Enda Downey who excelled in the new-look Cork full-back line. The latter restricted Séamus Flanagan to a single point and also got forward to score one at the other end.
Limerick manager John Kiely, who acknowledged his squad had done more in preparation for this league compared to last season, suggested a drop in energy levels after the break cost them.
“In the second half, we just lacked rhythm and cohesion and fellas got isolated on the ball that wouldn’t ordinarily get isolated on the ball.
“Our energy levels dropped in that second half. That’s to be expected possibly. But I still think we had enough there to get across the line, but ultimately we didn’t do enough.”
On the plus side, former Hurler of the Year Cian Lynch made his comeback from injury with a first appearance since last year’s All-Ireland semi-final against Galway. However, captain Declan Hannon is virtually certain to miss this Saturday night’s derby against Clare with a finger injury.
“He has a very nasty cut on his finger. I don’t think he’ll be able to play for a week or two now,” said Kiely who confirmed that Hurler of the Year Diarmaid Byrnes – currently on a break in the Middle East – will be back shortly. But there was no mention of All-Star forward Aaron Gillane who hasn’t featured so far this season.
Kiely apologised for the team’s late arrival back on the pitch for the start of the second half.
“We got our half-time clock wrong. It was completely my fault that we ended up in the dressing-room for 19 minutes (the scheduled break is 15 minutes). That shouldn’t have happened, but it was not intentional under any circumstances at all. I just didn’t get the numbers right in my head.”