Limerick hold off stubborn Cork effort to win Munster U21 Hurling Championship

Pat Donnelly’s side survived the rebels challenge to claim a second Munster title in three years.

The bookies might have had Limerick as short as 1/4 before throw in but that was not reflected in the ensuing 70 minutes as Pat Donnelly’s side laboured at times but just did enough to squeeze past Cork on a scoreline of 0-16 to 1-14 at the Gaelic Grounds.

In the end, it was that little bit of experience at this level that paid dividends and that ultimately saw Limerick home. No less than fourteen members of the current crop were part of John Kiely’s All-Ireland wining 2015 U21 side.

Limerick supporters savouring victory

The Tribesmen are next up for Limerick as they bid to make another All-Ireland final, with Kilkenny the most likely opponents should they get there. Limerick will though have to improve on the Cork performance if they are to challenge for the All Ireland and add their name to seven of the last eight Munster provincial winners who have gone on to win the big one.

Simply put , Limerick drifted in and out of the game. Some periods the were excellent, other times, not so much. They did however start well and this ultimately laid the foundations on which the victory was built. In front of 11,774 patrons at a lively Gaelic Grounds, Limerick were out of the blocks with a flash and ran up a 0-7 to no score lead within the opening 14 minutes.

Cork responded well with Mark Coleman and Shane Kingston to the fore. Eventually Limerick’s lead was trimmed down to just two points with six minutes on the clock. In truth to Tipperary and Clare in the opening two rounds, Limerick were never really tested. So much so that the last 15 minutes of both games were pretty much under control.

Peter Casey & John Hayes on the pitch after the final whistle

While Limerick were able to keep Tipp and Clare at arms length in the opening two rounds, Cork were making it increasingly more uncomfortable for the hosts slashing the gap to just two points with six minutes on the clock.

An injury concern in the lead up to the match, Aaron Gillane registered a couple of crucial frees to give Limerick a little bit of wriggle room. In the end it proved the difference between the two sides as Limerick clung on for victory.

In the early stages Cork set up to stifle Limerick’s attack with Senior star Mark Coleman employed as the sweeper. It dint have the desired effect however as Limerick opened their account inside the first minutes with a long range Ronan Lynch free.

Gillane then added a free and Limerick followed up with points from play supplied by Thomas Grimes and Peter Casey. Lynch and Gillane again added to Limerick’s total with frees, and another point from Grimes had Limerick very much in control.

Fourteen minutes gone and Limerick were now 0-7 to the good with Cork yet to trouble the scorekeeper.

Kingston opened Cork’s account midway through the opening half as the rebels slowly eased their way into the contest. Kingston notched another point before O’Mahony struck for a crucial 27th minute goal to give the away side hope.

It meant that Limerick only led by 0-11 to 1-4 at the break as pundits and journalists in the press area debated whether the wind that assisted Pat Donnelly’s side in the opening period was worth more that a slender four point lead.

A brace of Gillane frees after the break helped settle Limerick nerves and extended the gap to six points. That seemed to spur Cork into action as the rebels reeled off the next six points without reply. The pick of the scores from that sequence was a mammoth Mark Coleman effort from deep inside his own half to cut Limerick’s lead to just two points.

Limerick had now gone without a score from the 39th to the 57th minute, a total of eighteen minutes. It could have proved costly but Gillane stepped up wth he was needed most to add two more free to Limerick’s total.

True to form, Cork refused to go away and late points form Coleman and Kingston did reduce the arrears to just two points. In the end that tow point lead was good enough for Limerick to see it through and book the place in the semi final against Galway on

Gillane then added two crucial frees to edge Limerick back in front but Cork had one last kick in them and points form Coleman (free) and Kingston led a late charge. Unrotunatley for Cork, it fell just short as Limerick go on to face Galway in the All-Ireland semi final.

Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-5 (0-5f), Barry Nash, Thomas Grimes, Ronan Lynch (0-2f) and Peter Casey 0-2 each, Mike Mackey and Tom Morrissey 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: Tim O’Mahony 1-1, Shane Kingston 0-3, Declan Dalton 0-2 (0-2f), Michael O’Halloran 0-1.

Limerick: E McNamara; S Finn, D Fanning, D Joy; R Lynch, K Hayes, T Grimes; C Ryan, R Hanley; A Gillane, M Mackey, C Lynch; B Nash, P Casey,  T Morrissey. Subs: P Ahern for Casey (43), C Boylan for Mackey (47), B Murphy for Morrissey (56), L Lyons for Hanley (60+2).

Cork: P Collins; D Griffin, E Murphy, J Cashman; S O’Donoghue, M Coleman, D Browne; D Lowney, P Leopold; C O’Leary, M O’Halloran, S Kingston; D Dalton, R O’Flynn, T O’Mahony. Subs: J O’Connor for O’Leary (40), D O’Neill for Lowney (56), J Looney for O’Mahony (57), C Cahalane for Cashman (60+2).

Referee: R McGann (Clare)


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