McCarthy positive despite mauling by clinical Cussen
JUSTIN McCarthy insists his players are "going in the right direction" despite crashing to a second successive league defeat at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday night.
Limerick played with commendable fight and heart, but Cork -- inspired by a man-of-the-match display from debutant full-forward Michael Cussen -- were far superior.
The towering Cussen was making his first start for the hurlers after being involved with the county footballers over the last few years and he showed huge potential in firing 1-5 from play in a fantastic performance.
Cussen's scoring return helped Cork to a victory that leaves Limerick rooted at the bottom of the table, but the hosts' under-fire manager McCarthy was in positive form afterwards.
"Overall, I was very happy with how the team played. We were in the game for 55 to 60 minutes, but were lacking that little bit of experience and physical strength to carry the thing on," he said.
"The second goal took a lot out of them as they were going well at that stage. The experience will come in time but overall I feel they're going in the right direction."
Cork have had plenty problems off the pitch themselves in recent seasons but their manager Denis Walsh wasn't prepared to speak out on Limerick's crisis, despite having worked with McCarthy for several years.
"I've no interest in saying anything about the situation because I don't know anything about it," said Walsh.
"It's difficult enough in that you can't win really but we probably lacked a bit of urgency. The reason for that is maybe we weren't clued in enough and that's disappointing.
"Michael (Cussen) did his stuff and he took scores effortlessly and quickly."
Cussen set Cork on the road to victory with a third-minute goal, and although Limerick fought back, the Rebels were in control at the break with a 1-10 to 0-7 lead.
The biggest cheer of the night from the 2,500 crowd came in the 48th minute when substitute Thomas O'Brien found the net for Limerick, but Cork stepped it up a gear in the closing stages, with substitute Cian McCarthy firing in a late goal.
Scorers -- Cork: M Cussen 1-5, P Horgan 0-6 (0-4f), J Gardiner 0-4 (0-2 '65, 0-1f), C McCarthy 1-1, K Murphy 0-2, G Callinan, M O'Sullivan, N McCarthy 0-1 each. Limerick: T O'Brien 1-2 (0-2f), A O'Connor 0-4 (0-3f, 0-1 65), N Quaid, P Browne, B O'Sullivan 0-2 each, P McNamara, G Mulcahy 0-1 each.
CORK -- M Coleman; S O'Neill, E Cadogan, C O'Sullivan; B Murphy, R Curran, R Ryan; J Gardiner, T Kenny; F O'Leary, M O'Sullivan, G Callinan; K Murphy, M Cussen, P Horgan. Subs: C McCarthy for O'Leary (52), A O hAilpin for M O'Sullivan (57), N McCarthy for Callinan (63), M Walsh for Gardiner (65), A Ryan for O'Neill (71).
LIMERICK -- T Flynn; D Lynch, D Kenny, S O'Neill; L O'Dwyer, A Brennan, M Carr; N Quaid, P Browne; B O'Sullivan, A Owens, C Mullane; G Mulcahy, P McNamara, A O'Connor. Subs: M Deegan for Carr (31), T O'Brien for Owens (43), P Harty for Brennan (49), C Hayes for Kenny (52), D Moore for OConnor (60).
Ref -- James McGrath (Westmeath)