Limerick edge Cork to book Munster Hurling Championship final spot

Limerick’s All-Ireland and Munster hurling titles remain on Shannonside, for now, after prolonging their season, defeating Cork by the minimum at a sold-out TUS Gaelic Grounds.

It finished, Limerick 3-25 Cork 1-30, in scorching May sunshine.

With over 40,000 vocal supporters at the Ennis Road venue, it took three goals – from Seamus Flanagan, Cathal O’Neill and a Diarmuid Byrnes penalty to get Limerick over the line. It was Byrnes’ late ’65’ that put Limerick two clear, knowing a draw with see them de-throned at Munster holders.

These sides were closely matched throughout, with the half-time score 2-12 to 0-18. Flanagan’s fourth goal of the campaign arrived on 22 minutes after Aaron Gillane collected a Kyle Hayes delivery.

The second goal, set up by William O’Donoghue, came from Cathal O’Neill. The Crecora-Manister clubman started this contest instead of Cian Lynch. Indeed, O’Neill was one of nine first half scorers for the champions, with Barry Nash, O’Donoghue and the impressive Darragh O’Donovan among the scorers.

Corks scores had come from Patrick Horgan, Darragh Fitzgibbon while Declan Dalton got three, including two from long-distance.

The third Limerick goal, a penalty, came when Aaron Gillane was fouled by Cork captain, Sean O’Donoghue. Another Patrickswell man, Diarmuid Byrnes, rifled to the top corner. Cork wouldn’t go away and a Patrick Horgan goal on 62 brought them closer – having been seven behind.

But late scores from Gearoid Hegarty and the reliable Byrnes brought pushed Limerick clear – the end Cork’s season after they cruelly lost two games by just a point.

Byrnes was awarded Man of the Match, but John Kiely’s side had fine performances too from Gillane, Hegarty and O’Donovan, particularly in the second-half.

Limerick face Clare in the Munster final next month, on June 11 (2pm, Live on RTE). The venue will likely be Thurles though this is yet to be confirmed. Limerick defeated the Banner 12 months ago in Semple Stadium, after extra-time.

Scorers for Limerick:

Diarmuid 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.

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.

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.

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)

James Owens (Wexford).

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