Limerick win battle with Rebels

Limerick booked their place in the All Ireland semi-final in 3 weeks time following a 3-32 to 1-31 win over Cork after extra time at Croke Park on Sunday afternoon.

John Kiely’s men had a narrow 1-12 to 0-14 advantage at half time the Limerick goal coming courtesy of midfielder Cian Lynch who got on the end of a superb pass from Gearoid Hegarty to finish to the net. However, John Meyler’s Cork upped the gears to get back on track and get ahead by 5 points by 52 minutes courtesy of a fine goal from Midleton club man.

Pat Horgan and Seamus Harnedy opened the scoring before Limerick with Gearoid Hegarty and Darragh O’Donovan were back on level terms. Darragh Fitzgibbon was outstanding for Cork and he had them back in front Limerick hit a trio of points through Byrnes, Gillane and Hegarty. Horgan tapped over his second free, before Gillane got on the end of a long ball only to lose his hurley to kick over the bar when a goal looked easier to score. Seamus Flanagan and Harnedy then traded points and after 15 minutes it was 0-07 to 0-05 to the Shannonsiders. Cork hit three in a row then with Coleman, Kearney and Kingston edging them ahead. However, Gillane pointed to bring the sides level once more with 21 minutes played.

Gillane and Horgan exchanged frees before wing back Chris Joyce doubled Cork’s advantage from play from distance. Gillane then had another goal scoring opportunity and once again he opted to use the boot but it flew past the post and wide. Graeme Mulcahy then hit a brace as Limerick, before the Killmallock man responded to a point from Horgan minutes later. Nickie Quaid was then called into duty to deny Shane Kingston a goal, the ball ended up over the bar though and it was 0-13 to 0-11 when Coleman dissected the posts with an excellent sideline cut. Tom Morrissey and Daniel Kearney traded points before Lynch’s goal closed the scoring of the half.

Hegarty and Fitzgibbon traded early scores before Daniel Kearney cancelled out a Gillane score. Lynch flicked over a nice point as Limerick once again regained control 1-15 to 0-17 after 40 minutes. Fitzgibbon and Lehane then raised white flags, while Nash was called into action at the other as Lynch seen his shot saved. Cork led by two when Horgan floated over a nice score. He added his sixth of the day minutes later as the Rebels were now dominating, 0-22 to 1-16. Horgan and Gillane pointed before Lehane got a vital goal for Cork to extend their lead to five, 1-23 to 1-18 at the three quarters stage now.

Lehane scored a superb point from the sideline before Dowling pointed a brace to decrease the lead to four, Luke Meade and Fitzgibbon restored Cork’s six point advantage with 8 minutes plus injury time to go. Gillane pointed two frees though either side of a point from Kyle Hayes and the deficit was halved to three in a matter of minutes. Gillane and Dowling edged Limerick even closer, before remarkably Limerick went ahead with two frees from the impressive Gillane. However, Pat Horgan had a free from about 70 l metres out to tie the sides and force extra time.

It was a tense opening extra time period. Horgan and Gillane traded scores, before super substitute Dowling knocked over his fourth of the game. Once again Horgan and Gillane traded frees as the Shannonsiders led by the minimum at the break. Corn lost Harnedy and Fitzgibbon in that first half period of extra time through injury. Limerick were in the driving seat when Shane Dowling was fouled in side the box for a penalty 4 minutes into the second half of extra time, he stepped up and fired it to the top left hand corner giving Nash no chance in the goal at the Hill 16 end. Limerick four points ahead. The game was all but over then when Pat Ryan expertly finished to the net 2 minutes later by lobbying Nash to stretch the lead to seven.

David Reidy and Barry Nash completed a fine team performance by John Kiely’s men. Cork did get some consolation scores with Jack O’Connor firing over, while Pat Horgan also got a lucky goal after his shot from long range was mishandled by Nickie Quaid and went into the net. However, I am sure no sleep will be lost as the game was done and dusted by then.

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