All-Ireland champions Limerick were defeated by a fighting Cork side at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday, losing out to the Rebels by 1-26 to 1-19.
Let’s take a look at the main talking points as Cork bounce back from defeat last week to overcome Limerick.
Far From A Munster Classic
This wasn’t exactly the Munster classic we were hoping for given the calibre of games we have become accustomed to between these sides in recent times. Limerick were slow to settle into the pace of the game with poor first touches and control all over the field. The All Ireland champions were not as sharp with their passing as they were in 2018.
The game sparked into life to a certain extent with Graeme Mulcahy sensationally hit the back of the net from a ridiculously tight angle.
Cork for their part were guilty of trying to force their play and, again, had to look to the likes of Seamus Harnedy and Partick Horgan for their scores. However, the Glen Rovers man had an unusally poor start to the game with three wides in the first period and another in the second. He wasn’t alone in that, with Aaron Gillane also missing a straight-forward placed ball. Harnedy did have a chance to spark Cork back into life but he was denied a goal in the 26th minute by a well-timed Limerick block.
Limerick hit three wides immediately after the break before Gillane eventually settled them back down with a pointed free.
Deep Half-Forward Line
As has become their style, Limerick played with their half-forward roaming back, leaving plenty of space for the likes of Mulcahy and Gillane to use to their advantage. However, Cork had their play well read in the first half and marshalled the two inside forwards so that long balls in trickled out of play.
It made for a poor spectacle at times with ball repeatedly going to waste. Limerick’s threat has always been in the ability of Morrissey, Hayes and Hegarty to win primary possession but when that ball was continuously won deep inside their own half, it closed down the options inside.
Their scoring threat was also heavily diminished with Hayes the only half-forward to score in the first half. With Darragh O’Donovan also off-form, it made for poor viewing.
Work-Rate Comes Up Trumps
It might not have been always pretty but the work-rate of the All Ireland champions was undeniable from one to 15. Sean Finn was once again outstanding at corner-back and won two frees off Aidan Walsh and Alan Cadogan. Meanwhile, Mike Casey was a wall at full-back with a sensational catch in the first-half.
Morrissey and Hegarty were typically effective in their hooking and blocking while Cian Lynch covered every blade of grass in the stadium.
A combination of fatigue and poor choices saw their work-rate drop in the second half as the Cork half-back line and half-forward line came thundering into the game, Kearney in particular. It was only when Limerick’s pace and physicality dropped that Cork really found their feet in this game.
Spread of Cork Scorers Key To Revival
Cork were dealt a blow in the fifth minute when Conor Lehane limped off the field but his replacement, Alan Cadogan, proved more than up for the task. The Douglas man scored three points from play and was more than a handful for Richie English to deal with.
He linked up well with Daniel Kearney who came storming into the game in the second half. A big criticism of Cork against Tipperary last week was their over-reliance on Patrick Horgan but with their free-taker having an off-day, others stepped up, including Harnedy who is a leader in every sense of the word for Cork.
Unlike Limerick, Cork’s substitutes made immediate impacts with Declan Dalton scoring a point just seconds after his introduction and added another, while Kingston and Christopher Joyce also made their presence known.
Who Will Win The Munster Championship Is Anyone’s Guess
We said it before the game, and we’ll say it again – you cannot predict the Munster Championship after just one round. Many wrote off Cork following their loss to Tipperary last week but the Munster champions dominated Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds today.
Their defence was much tighter, their point-taking much more accurate and their overall decision making was vastly improved. As well as that, they won the majority of their puckouts and their half-forward line dominated the trio of Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon and Dan Morrissey.
The result leaves Tipperary at the top of the Munster Championship and rather than the narrative of Cork fighting for survival, they are in a strong position.
We all know the ability of this Limerick side and no doubt they will retaliate on their next outing but Cork played a far smarter brand of hurling and were fully deserving of their win.