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Munster SHC: Limerick reach decider

Sean O'Donoghue, Cork, and Aaron Gillane, Limerick, in Munster SHC action at FBD Semple Stadium. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Sean O'Donoghue, Cork, and Aaron Gillane, Limerick, in Munster SHC action at FBD Semple Stadium. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Munster Senior Hurling Championship

Limerick 3-25 Cork 1-30

By Tom Clancy at TUS Gaelic Grounds

Limerick’s quest for five Munster titles stayed on course, thanks to a frenetic victory over Cork at the TUS Gaelic Grounds. With it, the keep the quest for four All-Irelands in succession on track. The visitors exit the championship, after losing twice by just a single point in the space of a week.
As a result of their heavy loss to Waterford, Tipperary will now face Joe McDonagh Cup runners-up, Offaly, in the preliminary quarter final. Limerick maintain their hunt for five provincial titles on the bounce, setting up a repeat of last season's final clash with Clare.

It was a contest that had all the hallmarks of the Munster Championship to date, with top class scoring taking, goalmouth drama and no shortage of heart stopping moments for both sets of supports.

With more than 40,000 packed into the Ennis Road venue, both players played a lofty pace to match the scorching May sun.

Cork opened an early 0-3 to 0-1 lead, with Patrick Horgan and Declan Dalton both notching frees, while Tim O’Mahony was also on target. 

Despite Seamus Flanagan putting Limerick 0-7 to 0-5 ahead by the 14th minute, Cork would score the next six points. With Patrick Horgan, Declan Dalton, Luke Meade and a lovely Darragh Fitzgibbon point all helping Pat Ryans side four clear.

The first goal, on 22 minutes arrived from a Kyle Hayes delivery to Aaron Gillane. The Patrickswell clubman passed to Flanagan, who buried to the net from close range.

A second Limerick goal, on 31 minutes came moments after Aaron Gillane kicked a loose ball off the post. Despite having possession, Cork failed to clear and a combination of Flanagan and Will O’Donoghue turned over the ball – the latter handpassing to the rampaging Cathal O’Neill, who finished beyond Patrick Collins.

Two more Gillane points, both frees, followed but these sides were level at half-time, 2-12 to 0-18. Seamus Harnedy and Horgan (two frees) notching the final three points of the half.

The second half turned on a Limerick penalty, awarded for a foul on Gillane under a dropping ball. His clubmate, Diarmaid Byrnes rifled the ball to the net and it appeared the home side wouldn’t look back. But a succession of wides, as well as points from Shane Kingston, Harnedy and Horgan brough the Rebels to within one.

The next sea-change saw Limerick hit six unanswered, with Geraoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes and Darragh O’Donovan all scoring from distance, Byrnes also landed a trademark long range effort.

But a 62nd minute Horgan goal gave Pat Ryan’s men life and they were chasing right until the last. Crucially, a Byrnes ‘65’ put Limerick two clear in stoppage time. Horgan had the final score but Limerick had the final roar – the full-time whistle, to put themselves back in the Munster decider next month.

Scorers for Limerick: Diarmaid Byrnes 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-1 ’65), Seamus Flanagan 1-3, Aaron Gillane 0-5 (0-2 frees), Cathal O’Neill 1-0, Gearoid Hegarty, Darragh O’Donovan 0-3 each, Tom Morrissey 0-2; Peter Casey, William O’Donoghue, Barry Nash, Declan Hannon, Barry Nash 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 1-14 (0-11 frees), Darragh Fitzgibbon, Seamus Harnedy 0-4 each, Declan Dalton 0-3 (0-2 frees), Shane Kingston 0-2; Tim O’Mahony; Luke Meade, Rob Downey 0-1 each.

Limerick: Nicky Quaid; Mike Casey, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O’Donovan, William O’Donoghue; Gearoid Hegarty, Cathal O’Neill, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.

Subs: **Richie English for Hannon (54), David Reidy for O’Neill (57), Colin Coughlan for M. Casey (64), Graeme Mulcahy for P. Casey (65), Cian Lynch for O’Donovan (67).

**Cork: Patrick Collins; Niall O’Leary, Damien Cahalane, Sean O’Donoghue, Ger Millerick, Ciarán Joyce, Robert Downey; Brian Roche, Luke Meade; Tim O’Mahony, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Declan Dalton; Shane Kingston, Patrick Horgan, Seamus Harnedy.
Subs: Brian Hayes for Roche (39), Conor Lehane for O’Mahony (54), Padraig Power for Kingston (58), Ethan Twomey for Meade (60), Shane Barrett for Dalton (65)
Referee: **James Owens (Wexford).