Pitch invasion marks Limerick’s liberation from Munster

Cork play second half with 14 men after controversial red card for Patrick Horgan

Shane Dowling celebrates at the final whistle

Shane Dowling celebrates at the final whistle


With fervour altogether appropriate to Bastille Day, the Limerick crowd in the Gaelic Grounds yesterday got ready to storm the field.

 Throngs of green-and-white clad supporters made ready for an old-style pitch invasion and when Shane Dowling’s long-range free was flagged wide by an umpire now submerged in the celebrations, referee James McGrath whistled the end to Limerick’s 17-year exile from the Munster role of honour.

It was a dramatic match with deserved winners. A cagey first half ended sensationally with Cork forward Patrick Horgan red carded for striking Paudie O’Brien with what appeared an ill-judged – rather than malicious – stroke. Playing with 14 men took its toll on a hot day when Limerick raised the tempo considerably in the second half.

Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy was unhappy when speaking to local reporters. “It was an unbelievable decision. That’s all I can say. Anyone who was at the match can judge for themselves.”

His Limerick counterpart and fellow clubman of long standing at St Finbarr’s, John Allen, said that he hadn’t seen the incident. He did reveal that as Limerick boss, he would be off to see another of his ilk with a musical interlude later this week before the serious business of getting ready for next month’s semi-final kicked in.

“We’re off to Bruce Springsteen on Thursday night first, but it’s great. It’s a semi-final, you earn the right to play in a semi-final, Cork earned the right to play in a quarter-final and that’s about it. The next game has to be won as well and has to be prepared properly for. I suppose we have to try and keen a handle on the hype as best we can. We’re only as far as a semi-final, there isn’t going to be any talk of anything else.”

So, the season moves on after an extraordinary weekend, which saw both of Saturday’s qualifiers go to extra time in Thurles before Clare and Kilkenny emerged victorious. Cork will face old rivals and recent tormentors Kilkenny – who have won the three most recent championship meetings between the counties – in this year’s All-Ireland quarter-finals. The other quarter-final brings together Clare and Galway, who have met most recently in the qualifiers two years ago.

On a day when the Limerick bench made its customarily strong impact on proceedings, Shane Dowling rattled off three points after coming on as a second-half replacement. Representative of a recent generation that has won Harty Cup, provincial under-21 and Munster club medals, he was still impressed by the latest entry to his CV. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve grown up dreaming of a day like this. You hear people saying they’ve dreamed of this or that and you take it with a pinch of salt, but I have dreamt of this.”