Champions Limerick bow out to red hot Rebels

Limerick 0-29
Cork 1-28

By Tom Clancy at Croke Park
Limerick’s most remarkable run ended after a narrow, two-point loss, after an epic, to Cork.

It took an incredible effort from Pat Ryan’s Rebels to deny Limerick a shot at Clare for the ‘Five in a Row’.

There can be few excuses, at a packed Croke Park, Cork were simply better.

Still, from October 2020, when Limerick toon the first steps towards a remarkable four All Ireland titles, this group have proved so much to the hurling world.

Winning All Ireland finals against Waterford, Cork and the kingpins Kilkenny, twice, has etched their place in history. This was another chance at it but certainly, everybody knows this team should be back again in 2025.

Limerick who trailed by as many of seven in the closing stages, were able to get the margin back to just two points but crucially, they couldn’t get the game to just a point or of course, level.

Limerick’s best period perhaps game after the only goal of the game. They outscored Cork 0-10 to 0-3 and led by two at the interval. They were beyond halfway in the hunt for the magical 30 point mark.

This game was played at a most frantic pace with Cork hitting their crucial goal from the irresistible Brian Hayes. But Limerick managed to click into gear with points from David Reidy, Tom Morrissey and Aaron Gillane key to flipping a four point deficit to a three point lead.

Cork had a second goal disallowed for a throw ball, with Hayes finishing again. A tight call that could have been a huge blow to Cork. Earlier, Gillane was denied by Patrick Collins and even more frustrating for the Patrickswell man, he was blown for over carrying with the follow up.

The Treaty led 0-16 to 1-11 at half-time, with a late chance for Barrett flicked over the bar by the stick of Quaid. A big score in the context of Corks belief. Normally, it would be time for the Treaty to drive on, but instead, those in red found another gear.

Arguably the strongest third quarter seen by any team since Limerick defeated Tipperary in 2021 changed this game forever. Cork hit a perfect 10/10 shots which saw them beyond Limerick, with Declan Dalton, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Seamus Harnedy leading the way.

Limerick had replies through Cathal O’Neill and leading light Gillane. Limerick failed to really open up the Rebels defence though they had a goal chance with Patrick Collins denying Gearoid Hegarty before Gillane almost connected with the follow up.

Withing seconds of that, Dalton scored from his own half. Instead of Limerick being within touching distance, Cork were bursting from him.

John Kiely’s men finished strongly with Adam English and Shane O’Brien chipping in with scores from the bench. Aidan O’Connor and Darragh O’Donovan were introduced too as Limerick failed to ever get level in the final quarter. Two crucial wides, O’Connor and O’Brien, were as close as Limerick came.

Gillane wrestled for a dropping ball which trickled wide.

In the end, there was no doubt that the men in green hunted the game with everything, but they came up just short.

The time now is to reflect on six Munster titles and four All-Ireland’s in a row, something that few would have foreseen in 2017, when Limerick failed to win a game in Kiely’s first year in charge.

Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-10 (0-4 frees), David Reidy, Cathal O’Neill 0-3 each, Diarmaid Byrnes 0-3 (0-2 frees), Adam English, Shane O’Brien, Tom Morrissey 0-2 each; Cian Lynch, Gearoid Hegarty, Seamus Flanagan, Kyle Hayes 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: Brian Hayes 1-4, Patrick Horgan 0-5 (0-3 frees), Seamus Harnedy, Declan Dalton (0-2 frees) 0-4 each, Shane Barrett, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Alan Connolly 0-3 each, Robert Downey, Mark Coleman 0-1 each.

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Mike Casey, Dan Morrissey, Seán Finn; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon (Capt), Kyle Hayes; William O’Donoghue, Cian Lynch; Gearoid Hegarty, Cathal O’Neill, David Reidy, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan.

Shane O’Brien for Flanagan (53); Adam English for Reidy (54); Darragh O’Donovan for O’Donoghue (54); Aidan O’Connor for Morrissey (63);

Patrick Collins; Niall O’Leary, Eoin Downey, Seán O’Donoghue; Tim O’Mahony, Robert Downey, Mark Coleman; Ciaran Joyce, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Declan Dalton, Shane Barrett, Seamus Harnedy; Patrick Horgan, Alan Connolly, Brian Hayes.

Shane Kingston for Horgan (blood – 34 – 35); Ethan Twomey for O’Mahony (58); Shane Kingston for Dalton (62); Robbie O’Flynn for Harnedy (66); Padraig Power for Horgan (72);

Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford)

More to follow….

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