Kiely justly proud of heroic efforts of plucky 14-man Limerick

Hayes’s late equalising point sees Cork denied in injury time for second successive week

Limerick’s Kyle Hayes celebrates scoring a late point to equalise the game against Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Limerick’s Kyle Hayes celebrates scoring a late point to equalise the game against Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Limerick manager John Kiely felt that his team belied the numerical disparity as they earned a draw against Cork on Saturday night despite playing more than half the game with 14 men.

At Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork were denied victory by an injury-time equaliser for the second straight week as Kyle Hayes struck for the visitors in the 74th minute.

Having lost captain Declan Hannon to injury in the first half, they then had Aaron Gillane sent off for striking Seán O’Donoghue.

Trailing by 0-14 to 0-12 at half-time, Limerick fell further behind on the resumption but not even a Patrick Horgan goal for Cork could end their challenge. Inspired by the free-taking of Tom Morrissey with Séamus Flanagan influential in attack, they moved three points ahead at one stage before the home side came with a surge.

“We did seize the initiative but that was probably always going to happen in the second half,” Kiely said.

“This was their third game so the real pressure was probably going to come on in the last 20 minutes. They responded well when we took the lead as well, they came back and took the initiative and got the momentum and took the lead.

“I’d have to salute their performance as well, it was a real gutsy performance too. It was just an all-round fantastic game of hurling. I think that the people that made the journey to Cork really enjoyed their evening, that’s for sure.”

Kiely couldn’t speak with authority on Gillane’s dismissal as he had yet to watch it back. But he did feel that there was a lack of consistency between how referee James Owens dealt with that and another incident involving Limerick defender Richie English.

“I didn’t see it yet so I don’t know,” he said, “that’s genuine. It seemed a very strange situation for one to get the red card and one to get the yellow. We had a situation at the other end of the field where our player Richie English and I can tell you, I feel like issuing a photograph of the state of his rib cage after what was done.

Point won

“It was worse than what happened at the other end of the field, I can assure you that. There was no card issued in that situation so it was inconsistent. I know that lads have a tough job refereeing the games. It is very difficult. There’s a lot happening, you’ve to get up and down the field but I just think what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

“It shouldn’t be the story of the day, that sending-off. The story of the day is the manner of our performance in the second half where we were down to 14 men and we still looked like we’d 15 men on the field. That’s the difference.”

Cork, for whom Horgan scored 1-11 with midfielder Darragh Fitzgibbon also impressive, remain in a good position with four points from three games, knowing that a win over Waterford in a fortnight should be enough to qualify for the knockout stages of the championship.

Coach John Meyler certainly didn’t feel that his team had dropped a point.

“I think it’s a point won,” he said. “I think Limerick came down tonight really competitive, really good side, really well-coached and well-marshalled.

“They had a man sent off early in the first half and the game lost its structure, lost its shape. We put them under pressure and went in at half-time a few points up but they came at us in the second half. We showed great character then coming back in the last five minutes.”

Playing with 15 against 14, the Rebels didn’t always make use of that advantage.

“When the man went off, we just lost our shape on the pitch, which was more important to us,” Meyler said. “We were making a few small errors in pick-ups and passes and that, things that we need to look at and need to work on.

“At times, we ran into trouble but that’s decision-making and some of these are young players. They need a few years at this level because you’re going to be penalised, but there was great character shown there at the end.”

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