SLIDESHOW: On this day 2003: Limerick stun Cork in Munster Senior football championship

Leader Reporter

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On this day back in 2003, the Limerick senior footballers had arguably one of their greatest ever victories, defeating Cork by 10 points in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Although Limerick would eventually lose the Munster final to Kerry and be knocked out of that season's championship by Armagh, the win can be seen as the day this panel under Liam Kearns came of age. 

For those that were there, it is an unforgettable day for the people involved in Limerick football. 

Match Report from the Limerick Leader

By JOHN O'SHAUGHNESSY at Pairc Ui Chaoimh

Limerick 0-16 Cork 0-06

THIRTY-eight years of frustration was swept away inside 70 unbelievable minutes at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday, as Limerick's hungry brave hearts devoured reigning champions Cork by a massive 10 points winning margin to fire warning shots to others in the 2003 senior football championship campaign.

When manager Liam Kearns suggested in an interview in this newspaper two weeks ago that Limerick's tough League campaign would stand them in good stead against the Rebels, there were quite a few sceptics who felt he was whistling in the wind

Even after the heart break of Croke Park, the big Kerryman stood by his earlier convictions dismissing all innuendo that he'd be running for medication to reinvigorate his squad in time for battle against Cork, a side they had not beaten since a famous day back m 1965

It was said at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday that Paudf O'Se was "caged" on the Blackrock side of the ground. On the evidence of this performance he will not fancy a possible meeting with the team built by his former playing colleague on a later date

First, of course, Limerick have to overcome Clare and no doubt the Banner will quietly fancy their prospects of surprise number two in Munster, particularly on their home patch

Though Limerick scaled the heights in the League, Pairc Ui Chaoimh was seen as the first real test of character for them The record books indicated they have never won there In the build up Cork showed genuine respect for their opponents, with one player having been quoted that they were glad it was on in their own ground rather than Kilmallock

Well, at around 4pm on Sunday he and his colleagues almost certainly regretted that that it wasn't at some distant venue they were humiliated rather than in front of their own supporters.

Here they were trying to get over the adverse publicity, which surrounded that infamous players 'strike' of last year, and they walk into another minefield.This was very much Limerick's day and the joy on the faces of all connected with the team, and the travelling army, was there to be seen at the finish Diarmuid Sheehy, who had big Colin Corkery in his pocket all afternoon, was afforded hero worship as he autographed jerseys for admirers.

John Quane emerged from the tunnel to pose for photographs with friends and neighbours from the Galtees, and Liam Kearns was ushered upstairs to do a series of radio and TV interviews

Scoring hero Muiris Gavin had as tough a battle getting off the pitch as he had on it, and the quiet man of the team, Damien Reidy, could, if he had asked, been shouldered all the way back to west Limerick

Then there was 'keeper Seamus O'Donnell, pictured a week earlier with his face covered by a towel to hide his tears, and now hailed for a magnificent 23rd minute save from Brendan J O'Sullivan, who seemed to have nothing else to do but to blast the ball to the net

Had Sir Alex Ferguson been watching, his chequebook would have been out for Stephen Kelly Amazingly, Cork were allowed the privilege of just two points from play, from wine back Noel O Leary, in eight minutes, and Michael O Croinin, after 45 What's more, O Croinm's contribution was all they had to show for their second half efforts

The frustration of having to play second best resulted in their having received six yellow cards in the opening 35 minutes

Then with 10 minutes to go Fionan Murray took it out on Muriis Gavin in an off the ball incident and was correctly shown 'red'

As Limerick played a patient and direct game, Cork, for the most part, huffed and puffed Tactically, Limerick got it bang on, especially in the opening period when Damien Reidy was often seen as an extra midfielder First to the tackle, first to every ball and rising high est in the aerial battles, this was Limerick at their magnificent best Their total number of wides could be counted on the fin gers of one hand

There was just one brief period when they were m danger of shooting them selves m the foot Ahead by 0-10 to 1 5 at the interval, and with the breeze to come, they allowed indiscipline to creep m and inside a 10 minutes period gave away an unacceptable 11 frees Corkery, facing into the breeze, was unable to capitalise on those which were within scoring distance

The towering figures of John Quane and John Galvin were too much for Nicholas Murphy and Derek Kavanagh to handle, and even when the Croom man was clearly in pain with what appeared to be a hamstring problem in the second period, he continued to fight the good battle

Even when Jason Stokes hobbled off with a leg injury just before the break, Limerick kept their shape with Stephen Lucey proving a more than able deputy. Stokes played a few mind games with his direct opponent Micheal O'Croinin right from the start and clearly unsettled the Corkman

On reflection, Cork were not good/ Whether that was due to Limerick's game plan or their own short comings will await judgement for another day

Kearns honest pre match appraisal was that Cork might struggle a bit because of the lack of competitive matches over the last two months But even Larry Tompkins will find it hard to explain away a 10 points hiding on their own soil

Limerick started like an express tram with Stephen Kelly having worked his way into the middle before firing a shot into the midriff of keeper Kevin O'Dwyer

But it was Cork who scored first, and second, with Corkery, free, and Noel O'Leary, finding their range

Backed by the elements there was a real danger they might pull away

It was not to be Stephen Kelly took his cue from an earlier defence splitting run by Diarmuid Sheehy He raided down the right, slipped to the ground, picked himself up again and squeezed the ball between the uprights The show was now on the road

Muiris Gavin brought his shooting boots from Croke Park and slotted over the equaliser

Cork, easily exposed at the back, allowed Stephen Lavin to snatch the lead Corkery became the first player to enter the referee's notebook when he pulled down Diarmuid Sheehy In the 16th and 19th minutes, Gavin fired over two more frees

When Conor Fitzgerald rounded Anthony Lynch to carve another point, Limerick fans rubbed their eyes in disbelief at the 0 6 to 0 2 scoreline

Corkery pulled one back from a free and that was the closest that Cork were to get over the remainder of the contest.

Gavin and Corkery exchanged pomts, and then followed another of real quality from Michael Reidy.

Sparring partners Gavin and Corkery were at it again, and just on half time came the highlight Sheehy, never afraid to ven ture forward, shook off not just one but five tackles on an amazing run He spotted John Quane in a more favourable position, let him have possession and the midfielder did the rest

It was now 0-10 to 0 5, and another 35 minutes to fol low

Two minutes into the second half and it was even rosier, after Gavin converted a free awarded for a foul on Michael Reidy

Limerick were coasting, or so we thought

It was then that worst fears began to surface Their play became ragged, players were easily pulled out of position and free after free was conceded On another day, Cork might have taken control That they didn't was down to the elements and wayward shooting

All the losers had to show was a 45th minute point from O Croinin, also their last contribution of the afternoon

Worryimgly, Limerick had gone 12 minutes without even coming near the target. Stokes was gone and Galvin was struggling with an injury

Brian Begley answered the call with a difficult point, and one could sense an easing of tensions

There was a humorous moment when Corkery gave chase, O'Donnell kept his cool and sold him a dummy before the ball went over the end line

The second half frees total for Limenck climbed to 16; before Gavin punished two misdemeanours at the other end

At 0-14 to 0 6 there was no way back for the 2002 champions Do unto them as they do unto you, was the Limerick motto and Gavin and substitute Johnny Murphy rounded off a marvellous day by Leeside

In other times, Cork would have rolled out the subs in the second half just to give them a feel for the big occasion Limerick took that liberty this occasion

In the final analysis this was a great team performance It will be noted that corner backs Tommy Stack and Mark O'Riordan kept their markers scoreless, as did the tigerish Conor Mullane and Damien Reidy behind them

This marvellous win will be spoken about all over county and city for decades The men of 1965 will have to give way

The nation was tuned in, courtesy of RTE television, and any entrepreneur prepared to invest m the video highlights will surely have a best seller at Christmas

After all, it is not often that Limerick has days like this

The area around the dressing room was like Euston Station on a really busy day

Now this writer can take a two weeks break with a much lighter heart.

Limerick: Seamus O'Donnell, Mark O'Riordan, Diarmuid Sheehy, Tommy Stack, Conor Mullane, Jason Stokes, Damien Reidy, John Quane 0-1, John Galvin, Stephen Lavin 0 1, Muiris Gavm 0 9, Stephen Kelly 0 1, Conor Fitzgerald 0-1, Brian Begley 0-1, Michael Reidy 0-1. Subs S Lucey for Stokes, J Murphy 0 1 for Fitzgerald, P Ahem for M Reidy, P Browne for O'Riordan

Cork: Kevin O'Dwyer, « Sean O'Brien, Alan O'Connor, Anthony Lynch, Noel O'Leary 0-1, Martin Cronm, Eom Sexton, Nicholas Murphy, Derek Kavanagh, Tom Kenny, Micheal O Croinin 01, Brendan J _O'Sullivan_, Alan Cronin, Colm Corkery 0-4, Fionan Murray. Subs M. McCarthy for N Murphy, J O'Donoghue for Kenny, C Crowley for A Cronin, JO'SheaforM Cronin

Referee. Brian White (Wexford) handled the game very well