Cork blood new boys in easy victory
Three goals in seven-minute spell in first half kills game as a contest
Limerick’s John Galvin is tackled by Alan O’Connor and James Loughrey of Cork during the Munster SFC quarter-final at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Cork 3-17 Limerick 0-8: Impossible as it is to read anything either on or between the lines of this Cork performance – such was the sadly lamentable extent of Limerick’s challenge here on Saturday evening – there was a certain brooding about Conor Counihan afterwards that suggested things might be different this summer.
The Cork manager, not quite his jovial self, was soft on Limerick but hard on his own men for not hitting where it hurts a little earlier, and for not being more ruthless about it in the end.
“It was very workmanlike,” said Counihan, “and we’d be reasonably happy. But look, we’re under no illusions. The intensity of that second half, you wouldn’t normally survive at that level. So we’ve got to move it on again. The goals we got were not too bad, but we probably should have taken one or two more.”
Cork have three weeks now to get ready to face Clare in Ennis. The hope will be that the sight of Mick O’Dwyer might be able to raise a little more spirit from his men. Limerick may have stayed with Cork until the 13th minute (when the sides were still level on 0-2 each) but what followed didn’t do either team any good, as Limerick disintegrated, and Cork ended up playing target practice.
That’s not saying Cork didn’t show some attitude: they hit Limerick with a continuous onslaught, mixing up the long and short ball, showing obvious signs of reinvention. “Attitude isn’t really a problem with this group to be fair to them,” added Counihan.
“We did get the workrate out of fellas. We have to look at where we could have had more scores, and could have been a bit more clinical. We certainly expected a bigger challenge, but look football is a funny game. Some days you go out and some team is playing well and the other team’s performance isn’t as good and the gap is significant, but look, that can happen to any of us at any given day. I don’t think it’s a true reflection of where Limerick are at.”
Whatever life was in Limerick was squeezed out in a brisk seven-minute spell towards the end of the first half when Cork hit them with three goals in succession. They had already missed three clear-cut changes before then.
The first goal, on 25 minutes, saw Brian Hurley fist in Daniel Goulding’s long ball; debutant John O’Rourke’s long shot followed (helped in by Goulding); and then Pearse O’Neill finished off a thundering run with an unstoppable shot.
So, with Cork leading 3-4 to 0-3 at the break, neither team had much left to play for. Cork simply scored at will – Goulding, Ciarán Sheehan, Paul Kerrigan and substitute Mark Collins hitting their best scores.
Limerick, despite emptying their bench with 15 minutes to go, only managed another five paltry points, the biggest cheer from the home crowd going to the ever battling John Galvin.
“Sure by the time of the first goal we were hanging on by our fingernails,” admitted Limerick manager Maurice Horan, who emerged from their dressing room with the look of a man who might well have just wiped some tears from his eyes.
“We tried playing with an extra man back, and they still seemed to carve us open, running very strong. But we didn’t track their runners, were running after them instead of being ahead of them. They were also popping the ball over our heads and creating opportunities everywhere. So very disappointing, because we prepared very well for this match, were quietly confident.”
Worse still for Horan is this enduring record of seeing Limerick perform so poorly in Munster yet still raise some gallop for the qualifiers. That’s the only hope now. “I never would have thought before the game that we were going to be that far behind. Cork are a good team and we were always going to be up against it, but we felt we were in the right place, had a strong team out.”
CORK: K O’Halloran; P Kissane, M Shields, D Cahalane (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 45); J Loughrey, G Canty, T Clancy; A O’Connor, P O’Neill (1-0); C Sheehan (0-1), P Kelly, J O’Rourke (1-1); D Goulding (0-5, 0-1 free), B Hurley (1-1), P Kerrigan (0-2). Subs: F Goold (0-2) for Kelly, N O’Leary for Canty, D O’Connor for Sheehan (all 50 mins), A O’Sullivan for O’Neill (56 mins), M Collins (0-3) for Kerrigan (58 mins). Yellow cards: C Sheehan (28 mins), G Canty (33 mins).
LIMERICK: D O’Sullivan; A Lane, J McCarthy, M O’Riordan; S Lavin, P Ranahan, P Browne; B O’Brien, J Galvin (0-1); J Riordan, T Lee, S Buckley (0-1); G Collins (0-1), I Corbett, E O’Connor (0-3, 0-1 free). Subs: M Sheehan (0-1) for Corbett, D O’Connor for O’Brien, S O’Carroll for Corbett ( all half-time), S Lucey (0-1) for Buckley (51 mins), L O’Dwyer for O’Riordan (56 mins).
Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo).