AFTER a promising first half the Limerick U-21 footballers were knocked out the Munster Championship this Wednesday night when losing to reigning champions Cork, 2-14 to 0-11 in the Gaelic Grounds.
Limerick trailed 1-6 to 0-6 at half time but had shown great confidence and much ability in the opening 30-minutes.
But when Cork applied early second half pressure their class came to the fore.
Indeed Limerick were to score just once from play in the entire second half and numerous times goalkeeper James Brouder came to the rescue to stop Cork opening a sizeable lead.
Although Cork were dominant for much of the second half, three successive scores from Limerick left it 1-13 to 0-11 with just under 10-minutes to play.
But the goal Limerick needed to propel them towards a shock never arrived and infact it was Cork that sealed their Munster final appearance against Tipperary with another late goal.
The Rebels were the hottest of 1/25 favourites to defeat Limerick, so there was much to admire about the performance of the home side in the Gaelic Grounds.
While Cork never looked in serious trouble, the Tom McGlinchey managed Limerick did have the Leesiders on the back foot for periods.
But when required, Cork could increase the tempo and kick the necessary scores and the physicality of the Cork side was noticeable compared to their Limerick counterparts.
But there were positives for Limerick. Goalkeeper James Brouder made five top class saves, Francis O’Riordan kicked seven frees (off the ground), Iain Corbett had some nice spells at centre back and when in possession the likes of Danny Frewen, Danny Neville and Peter Nash showed they can cause problems for any defence.
On a bitterly cold but still night in the Gaelic Grounds Limerick settled well and Frewen and Neville kicked early scores.
But then Cork came to life and by the 12th minute were 1-4 to 0-2 ahead thanks to a softish goal from John O’Rourke.
The response from the 12/1 underdogs was impressive with Nash pointing either side of O’Riordan frees.
Alas, when on top Limerick failed to punish Cork sufficiently and ended the half with six wides, compared to three for the opposition.
At the break the goal seperated the teams, 1-6 to 0-6.
Limerick needed early second half momentum but it was Cork that emerged on top from the dressing rooms with quickfire points.
Limerick were to only have two O’Riordan points to show for the opening 20-minutes of the second half.
Cork were now 1-13 to 0-8 clear.
But Limerick didn’t throw in the towel and two O’Riordan frees and a second point for Frewen gave a glimmer of hope.
But there was to be no late dramatics as a Brian Hurley goal eased Cork into another Munster U-21 football final.
LIMERICK - James Brudair (Mountcollins); Stephen Cahill (Mountcollins), James O’Meara, captain (Ballysteen), Brendan McCarthy (St Kierans); Paul White (St Marys Sean Finns, Rathkeale), Iain Corbett (Newcastle West), Sean Barrett (Kilmallock); Darragh Treacy (St Kierans), Patrick O’Donnell (Galbally); Sean Sheahan (St Marys Sean Finns, Rathkeale), Micheal Brosnan (Dromcollogher-Broadford), Danny Frewen (Ballylanders); Danny Neville (Ballysteen), Francis O’Riordan (St Senans), Peter Nash (Kildimo-Pallaskenery). Subs: Jamie Lee (Newcastle West) for Cahill (43mins), Kevin O’Donoghue (Hospital-Herbertstown) for Barrett (46mins), Bill Creamer (Cappamore) for O’Donnell (48mins), Denis O’Dea (Kilteely-Dromkeen) for Brosnan (58mins).
CORK - David Hanrahan; Brian O’Driscoll, Conor Dorman, Alan Cronin, TJ Brosnan, Damien Cahalane, Jamie Wall; Tom Clancy, Ian Maguire; Alan Cadogan, Mark Sugrue, John O’Rourke; Dan MacEoin, Brian Hurley, Luke Connolly.Subs: Cathal Vaughan for Sugrue (h-t), Jamie Burns for Clancy (49mins), Sean Kiely for Cadogan (54mins), Kevin Crowley for Cronin (58mins), Kevin Hallissey for McEoin (61mins).
REFEREE - Keith O’Brien (Tipperary).