Limerick and Cork put on a classic this evening in Pairc Ui Chaoimh where despite being reduced to 14-men early in the first half Limerick will be disappointed not to have come away with the victory. A late Kyle Hayes point would prove to be the leveller as the game finished 0-28 to 1-25 with Limerick still in pole position to secure a Munster championship final berth.
A fine opening point from Conor Lehane opened proceedings before Cian Lynch casually equalised. Mulcahy and Flanagan then added fine scores as Limerick took a narrow 3-1 lead inside the opening three minutes.
Daniel Kearney’s low drive then cut the deficit to one before Kingston levelled once again. It was a blistering opening five minutes with some super scores. The only downside was Declan Hannon’s departure after six minutes through injury with William O’Donoghue coming on.
Fitzgibbon and Horgan then edged Cork into a two point lead before Seamus Flanagan cut the gap to just one with a superb strike from the left sideline. A Pat Horgan free pushed Cork’s lead back out to two once again.
The pace of the opening 12 minutes was relentless and when a Richie English ball found Seamus Flanagan, the forward was fouled allowing Gillane an easy free to convert.
Top class scores from Darragh O’Donovan and Hegarty followed as Limerick looked to have found their rhythm moving into a one point lead. Space was at a premium as both sets of backs looked to close out the space.
The levelling 65 from Pat Horgan was almost immediately cancelled out by Tom Morrissey with a superb point over his left shoulder. Horgan again levelled from a free after a soft concession from Kyle Hayes.
The Glen Rovers sharpshooter repeated the dose minutes later as Cork edged into a one point lead after 23 minutes. Daniel Kearney then landed a fine point from out wide on the right to make it a two point game.
A huge turning point came in the 26th minute when Aaron Gillane was shown a straight red for a pull striking Sean O’Donoghue with the hurl and the Patrickswell man can have little complaints as the replay showed not one but two striking actions.
Shane Kingston added to Limerick’s troubles with a point to make it 11-8. A Tom Morrissey free settled things somewhat from Limerick but that was quickly cancelled out by a Mark Coleman point for the rebels.
A Diarmaid Byrnes free made it 12-10 as John Kiely’s men would have been looking to get to the dressing room and reassess the game plan. Darragh Fitzgibbon then take it a three point game with another point as Cork looked to press home their numerical advantage.
Tom Morrissey then took matters into his own hands with a free and a monster of a point from play to cut the gap to just a single point. A loose Limerick pass gave Colm Spillane the last scoring chance of the half and the Castlelyons corner back made no mistake as the home side took a 0-14 to 0-12 lead in at the break.
The opening score of the second half came from a Horgan free after referee James Owens awarded a soft free at best from 21 yards. Tom Morrissey cancelled that out a minute later before Cian Lynch and Graeme Mulcahy pointed to level proceedings.
It was just the start John Kiely would have wanted as his shorthanded side looked to negotiate a tricky 35 minutes.
That momentum was halted abruptly as Pat Horgan was found in acres of space. With a free run through on goal, he made no mistake for the first goal of the game. Tom Morrissey again responded with a point from play but Lehane soon cancelled that out.
Morrissey and Meade exchanged scores before two Seamus Flanagan points were followed by a superb Darragh O’Donovan strike to level. It was a superb response to the goal and when Seamus Flanagan added a another point, the visiting crowd found their voice.
Horgan levelled through a free to settle Cork nerves but they would have been disappointed that they didn’t build on the goal. Another Tom Morrissey free edged Kiely’s men back into a one point lead.
Momentum was ebbing slowly in Limerick’s favour and when Cian Lynch and Kyle Hayes addd points in quick succession to take a three point lead with 13 minutes remaining.
Pat Horgan converted two frees as the game was once more on a knife edge. A high risk pass from Byrnes then found Dan Morrissey on the midfield line and the Ahane man wasted no time in firing over a superb point.
Barry Murphy introduced himself by winning a free and Tom Morrissey pointed to make it a three point game once again. Lehane and Fitzgibbon then responded for the home side as the gap was once again back to just a point. Horgan then levelled as this epic battle took another twist.
Darragh Fitzgibbon edged the home side back into the lead but Diarmaid Byrnes would have a chance to level with the next play from a placed ball which he grasped with both hands.
Possession and position were now key and Horgan edged Cork back into the lead after he was fouled on the 21. Kyle Hayes then picked the ball out of the air to fire over and level once again with 30 seconds left.
It would be the final score in a breathtaking game as both sides deserve huge credit for an epic game of hurling.
Cork: Anthony Nash; Seán O’Donoghue, Damien Cahalane, Colm Spillane (0-01); Mark Ellis, Christopher Joyce, Mark Coleman (0-01); Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-04), Bill Cooper; Conor Lehane (0-03), Dean Brosnan, Daniel Kearney (0-02); Patrick Horgan (1-11, 0-08f 0-01 65), Séamus Harnedy, Shane Kingston (0-02).
Subs: Tim O’Mahony for O’Donoghue, Luke Meade (0-01) for Brosnan (both half-time), Michael Cahalane for Kingston (60), Jamie Coughlan for Lehane (70).
Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Seán Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes (0-02f), Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey (0-01); Darragh O’Donovan (0-02), Cian Lynch (0-03); Tom Morrissey (0-09, 0-05f), Kyle Hayes (0-02), Gearóid Hegarty (0-01); Séamus Flanagan (0-05), Aaron Gillane (0-01f), Graeme Mulcahy (0-02).
Subs: William O’Donoghue for Hannon (7), David Dempsey for Hegarty (55), Paul Browne for O’Donovan (61), Barry Murphy for Mulcahy (62), Pat Ryan for Flanagan (64).
Referee: James Owens (Wexford).