LIMERICK FC U13s stormed into the SSE Airtricity U13 League Cup final after scoring a thrilling 1-0 victory over Cork City in their semi-final showdown played at Hogan Park on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday's game was the Munster rivals fifth encounter this season with Cork City been unbeaten with two wins and two draws, with both draws coming at Hogan Park.
Limerick started the game with good control of possession, seeing a lot of the ball with both centre backs Robbie Lynch and Aidan O'Shea showing a lot of character and technically ability to play so comfortably in building up the play.
Tom Healy was the lynchpin for everything Limerick did when moving the ball forward into Cork's half. Limerick's two advanced midfielders Fintan McNamara and Kian Kelly showed great composure on the ball as they had a lot of pressure from Cork's two center midfielders, yet still found solutions to attack towards goal.
Limerick's wingers Jamie Forde and Jamie Long started to stretch Cork with their positioning in wide areas, while Cillian Mulvihill was always a threat up front his dribbling and movement.
Limerick would create the early opportunities and when Kian Kelly struck a free kick 25 yards out from goal, he forced the Cork goalkeeper into an excellent save.
Limerick's good play would finally be rewarded when from a Cork kick out, Limerick's press was executed perfectly as they won the ball and when Cillian Mulvihill received the ball, he dribbled through to fire home from close range to put the
Blued ahead, sparking great scences of joy among the players in celebrating the goal.
Cork thought they had levelled the game but saw their effort hit the post and after a scramble in the box, Limerick cleared.
At half time, Limerick went in holding on to their 1-0 advantage.
The second half would see Cork play higher up the pitch and press Limerick more aggressively, yet Limerick's four defenders Tom Delaney, Robbie Lynch, Aidan O'Shea and Conall Casey were so relaxed in getting on the ball and playing.
Tom Healy was continuing to control everything that came in the central areas of midfield, while Fintan McNamara was becoming more and more harder for Cork to deal with.
Cork though, when on the ball were becoming more dangerous as they got a lot of crosses into the box, but Limerick's defenders dealt very well with constant threats.
Cork came closest to equalising from a corner kick when their centre back rose highest to header the ball but saw his attempt just go wide of the post.
As Cork continued to find a way of breaking through the Limerick defence, they left themselves vulnerable as Limerick quick play would see them through attacking towards goal with Jamie Long and Cillian Mulvihill linking up well on the left hand side with one of their attacks seeing Mulvihill's effort hit the post.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, Limerick goalkeeper Aaron Mulready showed his ability in saving a few attempts while dealing really well with crosses.
In possession, Limerick showed brilliant character as even when Cork City pressed even higher the players still continued to play out with Tom Delaney showing good close control to get forward.
Cork now threw everything at Limerick but Robbie Lynch blocked anything that came his way while Aidan O' Shea was always in the right place at the right time with Conall Casey always providing good cover.
Cork struggled to get joy centrally as Tom Healy managed the area impressively. Soon after the referee blew the final whistle which saw the young 'Super Blues' finally overcoming the hurdle of Cork City and advancing through to SSE National League Cup final.
It was great scenes to see all the players in the squad celebrate together while also showing respect to Cork City afterwards.
It has been a truly excellent season for this group of players and fantastic to see their attitude, application and hard work rewarded as they are now set to play on the biggest stage in cup football in the country.
LIMERICK FC U13: Aaron Mulready, Tom Delaney, Robbie Lynch, Aidan O'Shea, Tom Healy (Capt), Conall Casey, Kian Kelly, Jamie Forde, Jamie Long, Fintan McNamara, Cillian Mulvihill. Substitutes: Sam Dooley, Jack Dunleavy, Dara McNamara, James Kenneally, Padraic Murphy, Jack Koyce, Fionn Higgins.