KIERAN McCARTHY REPORTS
CORK footballers stuttered and stumbled, but they eventually got the job done to advance to the Munster SFC final in two weeks’ time.
In the end, the Rebels had eight points to spare over Limerick in this provincial semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds, but this was a struggle for large parts, the first half especially.
It took scoring bursts at the end of both halves to shake off a Limerick team that huffed and puffed, but lacked a scoring threat to really threaten a shock result.
Four unanswered points at the end of the first half moved Cork into a 1-6 to 0-4 lead at the break. Another surge down the home straight saw the Rebels finally pull clear, as they turned a 1-11 to 0-10 lead into a 1-16 to 1-10 advantage, but there’s a lot to do ahead of the Munster final.
‘We got the job done, which is what we came to do. It was a workmanlike performance, we kept them at arm’s length for most of the game, never really in trouble,’ Cork boss Ronan McCarthy said.
Limerick opened the scoring inside 30 seconds when wingback Gordon Browne found room to score, but Cork’s response was immediate: a goal from John O’Rourke. It started with an interception from full back Daniel O’Mahony and then Ruairi Deane’s direct run saw him lay it off to O’Rourke, who bundled the ball home from close range.
Scores were hard to come by here, but two frees from Hugh Burke kept Limerick hopes alive while Brian Hurley (a free from near the sideline) and Ian Maguire were on target for Cork who led 1-2 to 0-3 at the first water break.
Another Hugh Burke free saw Limerick move to within one, again, 1-2 to 0-4, and scores again were scarce for most of the second quarter, with an effort dropped short from Ruairi Deane summing up the contest. It was Sean Powter who sparked the Rebels late in the half as the Douglas man scored twice from play, and Hurley (free) and Mattie Taylor, and Cork reeled off four points in five minutes to lead 1-6 to 0-4 at half time.
The third quarter, again, saw the sides swap scores, with John O’Rourke and a pair of Brian Hurley frees keeping Cork ticking over, but Limerick were hanging in. When they trailed 1-10 to 0-7, Danny Neville got inside for a goal chance but blazed his effort across the goal and wide.
A point from Cork sub Cian Kiely, who did well when he came on, stopped Limerick’s momentum as they tried to rally themselves and they did come to within four, 1-11 to 0-10. But Cork didn’t panic. Points from O’Rourke, Kiely, Hurley (2) and Sean Meehan saw the Rebels finally pull clear, but there’s work to do ahead of the Munster final.
Cork: John O’Rourke 1-3, B Hurley 0-6 (4f); Sean Powter, Cian Kiely 0-2 each, Ian Maguire, Mattie Taylor, Sean Meehan 0-1 each.
Limerick: Hugh Burke 0-5f; Danny Neville, Ian Corbett 0-2 each; Gordon Brown, Aaron O’Sullivan (45) 0-1 each.
Cork: MA Martin; S Powter, D O’Mahony, K Flahive; K O’Donovan, S Meehan, M Taylor; I Maguire, P Walsh; B Hartnett, R Deane, J O’Rourke; L Connolly, B Hurley, D Ó Duinnín. Subs: C Kiely for S Powter (43), K O’Driscoll for P Walsh (46), B Murphy for D O’Mahony (50, inj), M Collins for L Connolly (60), M Hurley for J O'Rourke (65).
Limerick: D O'Sullivan; S O’Dea, B Fanning, M Donovan; R Childs, I Corbett, G Brown; D Treacy, T Childs; C Sheehan, C Fahy, A Enright; D Neville, R Bourke, H Bourke. Subs: A O’Sullivan for D O’Sullivan (5, inj), B Donovan for R Burke (ht), K Ryan for C Sheehan (44), J Naughton for A Enright (44), P Maher for T Childs (55), J Ryan for C Fahy (60).
Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare).