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Dowling The Hero As Limerick Book Their Place In All Ireland Final

GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final, Croke Park, Dublin 29/7/2018 Cork vs Limerick Limerick’s Cian Lynch celebrates scoring a goal

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Cork 2-31 Limerick 3-32

Limerick came from six points down to clinch a place in the All Ireland final with victory over Cork after extra-tome. Substitute, Shane Dowling and Aaron Gillane were the heroes for the Treaty men as their late points secured the win.

The opening of this game was everything you would expect. Free flowing, nervy and ferocious. Darragh Fitzgibbon who has been excellent for Cork all year was straight into the thick of the action but Cork were nervous and hit a number of wides, 10 in total in the opening half. Equally, it took Limerick some time to settle but the height of their half-forward line countered Anthony Nash’s puck-outs and greatly helped them, Gearoid Hegarty in particular to the fore with two points in quick succession. If there were any doubts about the fitness of Seamus Harnedy before the game, he quickly answered them and the Cork captain was inspirational, scoring two early points and assisting in many more. It was a quieter time for Patrick Horgan who missed a number of key efforts early on.

Aaron Gillane’s bad luck in front of goal carried on from the Kilkenny match. Tom Morrissey showed great vision to pick out the Patrickswell man one-on-one in front of goal and Gillane caught the ball and beat his man before kicking wide having lost his hurl. Limerick began to dominate as Cork lost a little bit of composure, taking the wrong option on occasion. Conor Lehane and Luke Meade had no choice but to shoot from distance with little option in the forward line but saw both their efforts wide. However they showed glimpses of their potential threat through Harnedy and Shane Kingston who pounced on the ball after a mistake from Sean Finn.

The Cork full back line looked shaky at times and Graeme Mulcahy took full advantage of Damien Cahalane’s hesitancy to knock over three points in a row. But Cork came roaring back into the game. Conor Lehane struck an effort which hit the post and Horgan pounced on the rebound, firing just over the bar. Minutes later they came at goal again. Shane Kingston was fed the ball after a brilliant Harnedy catch but Kingston was denied by Nicky Quaid who sent the ball between the posts. Mark Coleman then sent a sensational sideline over to earn a two point lead. Just before half-time, the game swung in Limerick’s favour. Cian Lynch found himself unattended in front of Cork’s goal and calmly took the pass from Seamus Flanagan before flicking the ball past Nash to leave his side one point ahead at half-time.

It was the Rebels who got off to the brighter start with a wonderous point from Fitzgibbon before Lehane scored while Limerick endured four early wides. Goalscorer, Cian Lynch eventually settled his side down again. Fitzgibbon struck again when Mike Casey was hit a poor pass out of defence and the match was levelled for the 11th time. Limerick looked to be well on the way to their second goal when Cork were caught in possession in defence and Hegarty found Lynch on the run but Nash produced a brilliant save to retain Cork’s lead.

Limerick’s sloppy play continued and Cork took advantage. A goal chance for the Rebels turned into a point from a Horgan free and he added another minutes later to extend their lead to three points. Conor Lehane was an inspired man in the second half and he proved that with a wonderful run which he expertly finished past Quaid. Limerick’s half-forward line began to tire as Cork got on top and John Kiely introduced Peter Casey and Shane Dowling with the latter making an immediate impact, scoring two points with two possessions.

Cork looked like a team who were not going to repeat the hurt of last year’s semi-final loss as Luke Meade and Fitzgibbon fired over the bar. Yet even with the clock ticking, Limerick didn’t panic as Kyle Hayes hit over a point. Aaron Gillane knocked over two frees to reduce the gap to just two with four minutes of normal time remaining. The drama continued as super sub Dowling added another to bring Limerick to five scores without reply. As Gillane levelled, Mark Ellis found himself in on goal but Nicky Quaid made a critical interception before he could get the ball away. With the draw between Clare and Galway still fresh in the minds of hurling fans, Cork’s all-time leading scorer, Patrick Horgan pointed a free under immense pressure to send the game to extra-time.

In the opening minute of extra-time, Gillane missed a goal chance but managed to get the point after Nash’s save. With fatigue setting in, Limerick hit a number of chances into the hands of Nash but the intensity weakened Cork too as they lost Harnedy and Fitzgibbon. The inspirational Dowling added another point to extend his side’s lead to two. Limerick’s ill-discipline began to cost them as Horgan added another free but he failed to convert the second, much to the relief of John Kiely’s men.

Dowling was again the hero as he made a run on goal and was fouled resulting in a penalty which he buried. Limerick lost Gillane to injury but the smile was back on their face less than a minute later when Pat Ryan rattled Nash’s net once more. The steely determination of Limerick was proved when they blocked a late shot on goal from Horgan from a free. Cork did get a consolation goal through a Horgan free with seconds remaining but another substitute, Barry Nash sent another point flying over the bar to secure the win and the place in the All Ireland final.

Cork: Anthony Nash; Sean O’Donoghue, Damien Cahalane, Colm Spillane; Christopher Joyce (0-1), Eoin Cadogan, Mark Coleman (0-2, 1sl); Bill Cooper, Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-3); Daniel Kearney (0-3), Conor Lehane (1-3), Luke Meade (0-1); Shane Kingston (0-2), Seamus Harnedy (0-2), Patrick Horgan (1-11, 7f).

Substitutes: Robbie O’Flynn for Kingston (49) Mark Ellis for Kearney (60) Tim O’Mahoney for Meade (65)  Michael Cahalane for Harnedy (6 ET) Shane Kingston for Fitzgibbon (7 ET)

Limerick: Nickie Quaid, Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English, Diarmaid Byrnes (0-1, 1f), Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey, Darragh O’Donovan (0-1), Cian Lynch (1-0), Gearoid Hegarty (0-3), Kyle Hayes (0-1), Tom Morrissey (0-1), Aaron Gillane (0-11, 5f), Seamus Flanagan (0-1), Graeme Mulcahy (0-4).

Substitutes: Peter Casey for T Morrissey (44) Shane Dowling (1-3, 1f) for Flanagan (51) Pat Ryan (1-0) for Mulcahy (64) William O’Donoghue for O’Donovan (70) Seamus Hickey for Byrnes (6 ET)

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Author: Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. You can contact her at or on Twitter