Limerick’s bid to reach a third Munster MHC final on the trot ended with a 10-point loss to Cork at Semple Stadium.
A masterclass from Cork full forward Jack Leahy put Limerick to the sword with the Cork full forward yielding an outstanding 1-14 performance.
Limerick continued to give their all throughout and were rewarded late on with a David Fitzgerald goal but ultimately fell to a 1-24 to 1-14 defeat.
Limerick made a fine start to the game with Shane O’Brien landing the first two points of the game – a well taken free and an excellent effort from play following a sublime catch.
Jack Leahy got the first of seven first half points to open Cork’s account but O’Brien’s prowess in the air put Limerick two clear again after he set up Joe Fitzgerald.
Leahy got Cork to within one again but the margin doubled for a third time when Mark Riordan slotted over Limerick’s fourth point on 12 minutes.
Tadhg O’Connor and O’Brien traded points before Diarmuid Healy and Leahy ensured that the game was all square at 0-5 apiece at the first water break.
Ben Nyhan put Cork ahead for the first time when the game resumed and it was soon followed up by O’Connor’s second of the half.
O’Brien gave Limerick a brief respite with a badly needed free but Leahy (3) and Healy had Cork five points in front in the lead up to half time.
Riordan’s second score of the half stemmed the Cork flow but a Leahy ’65 and a fine score by Eoin O’Leary saw Cork 0-13 to 0-7 ahead.
O’Brien started the second half with a free to reduce Cork’s advantage to five before scores from Leahy and Healy scored for Cork either side of a fine Paddy Kennedy point for Limerick.
Leahy then took centre stage with three in a row for Cork with Limerick responding through O’Brien and Riordan to cut Cork’s gap to seven points.
Sub Pierce Connery then scored with his first touch for Limerick but Leahy’s 12th and 13th points of the contest saw Cork 0-20 to 0-12 in front at the second water break.
O’Brien’s seventh of the game gave Limerick some hope of a comeback going into the final quarter but Leahy’s goal capped a fine personal performance and saw Cork into the Munster final on a 11-point winning margin.
Scorers: Shane O’Brien 0-7 (6f), David Fitzgerald 1-0, Mark Riordan 0-3, Joe Fitzgerald, Paddy Kennedy, Pierce Connery and Cian Scully (1f) 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: Thomas Lynch; Joe Fitzgerald, Vince Harrington, William Dore; David Fitzgerald, Cian Scully, Mike Fitzgibbon; Cian O’Carroll, Liam Dennehy; Shane O’Brien, Killian Ahern, Paddy Kennedy; Mark Riordan, Harry Fox, Con Hayes.
Subs: Wayne Kearns for Fox (36), Pierce Connery for O’Carroll (42), Rian O’Byrne for Hayes (51), Gavin Rowsome for Dennehy (58), Mikey Gavin for Kearns (60).