Munster title testament to team that Barry-Murphy built

It’s starting to look like this year’s All-Ireland will be decided amongst the big three

Cork’s Alan Cadogan and Tom Condon of Limerick clash in yesterday’s Munster Hurling Final at  Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Cork’s Alan Cadogan and Tom Condon of Limerick clash in yesterday’s Munster Hurling Final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 04:00

For all the entertainment value in the Munster final I’d have to damp down my pre-match belief that Cork and Limerick were potentially the two best teams left in the championship.

For Cork it’s a significant step to win a trophy because Jimmy Barry-Murphy has effectively built a new team, and for them to achieve a Munster title is recognition of those efforts. I felt both teams were a bit distracted by the occasion but it ended well for Cork.

The main difference between the teams was goalscoring ability. Cork were ruthless whereas Limerick had four opportunities – three for Shane Dowling and one for David Breen – but none of them raised a green flag, although one was down to super defending by Shane O’Neill.

Limerick didn’t make it easy for themselves. Three points down with half-time approaching, having played with the breeze, they ended up having to put in a big effort to level it before going in when they should have been well clear.

Costing vital scores

I have previously questioned John Allen’s decision not to start Shane Dowling for his free-taking ability in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final but the latter’s failure to convert early chances yesterday cost the team vital scores.

It had been wasteful by Limerick, and I was fairly sure Cork would kick on, but in the second half they became affected by the same shortcomings and hit the same number of wides. This had the effect of keeping Limerick in the game and it was only when the goals went in that the match changed decisively.

Séamus Harnedy really found his range in the second half in a courageous performance because things hadn’t been going well for him in the first half, and even in the second he was susceptible to some bad wides. But the effort and bravery he put in for the goal turned the match.

I had expected Cork to be that bit slicker in the forwards, and that’s how it played. Graeme Mulcahy was very good and created trouble all day but Limerick had to take off Declan Hannon and Kevin Downes, and ultimately they didn’t have the panel strength to replace them effectively.

Cork on the other hand were able to bring on Paudie O’Sullivan and William Kirby, who both improved things from the bench.

They also didn’t do as well in the middle as they had against Tipperary when James Ryan and Paul Browne were key performers. Yesterday Aidan Walsh was for me the stand-out midfielder, and Daniel Kearney – although he wasn’t as consistent – read the play well and used the ball effectively by the end.

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