THE margin was reduced by twenty points, but the result was the same as Limerick played Cork in the Co-Op Superstores Munster League final last Sunday.
Conditions were far from ideal. It was a grey day, overcast and damp and the under foot conditions meant the hurling was scrappy on a many occasions.
I was surprised with the small crowd that attended, but overall it was a fine game of hurling for the time of year.
Limerick played well enough to win this game but not scoring for almost fifteen minutes in the second half proved costly.
They also hit some really poor wides. Cork like Limerick are trying to find players and having watched them three times already this season it’s safe to say they are in a far better state than this time last year.
This was a good workout for both teams and in fairness for many of the players it has been a busy week with the Fitzgibbon Cup. It looks pretty clear at this stage that Limerick intend on playing a short game.
We saw lots of examples of it last Sunday but sadly it wasn’t pretty to watch. Watching forwards hitting the ball back to half backs and others with clear chances to score played a part in the final result.
This league has given time to young players and that alone is a positive but the team is far from settled and many places are up for grabs.
It’s not really possible to assess where the team stands now but like other counties a lot of heavy work has been done over the last couple of months. We will have a far better idea after the Wexford game.
With every day that passes that game will come more into focus and I know that Wexford are gearing themselves to battle.
John Kiely knows that and for that reason he will be aware of the need to play a team that can tolerate the energy I expect Wexford to play with.
Cork have done a good lot of work and you could see that in their first touch. Despite the ground conditions many of their players were impressive.
Alan Cadogan just like when they last met was the man that tormented the Limerick full backline. He has a massive turn of speed, mix that with a razor shape touch and vision and you have the ingredients of a class forward.
He played a key part in Cork winning this game and his goal in injury time sealed the day. The Limerick defence played frantic hurling at times and the damage could have been far greater.
Cork started the game well and hit three points in a row but a David Dempsey goal after eight minutes allowed the game to settle in to a fine contest. I was impressed with Dempsey.
He is developing and has the ability to win his own ball. He is good in the air and games like this will bring him on a lot. Given the amount of possession that Limerick had they should have been further ahead at the break.
Pat Horgan kept Cork in the frame with frees while Peter Casey did likewise for Limerick. Cork allowed Darragh Fitzgibbon to travel from corner forward while once again young Shane Kingston showed he has the tools to survive at this level.
The opening quarter of the second half saw Limerick add to their lead. They pushed forward and attacked. Diarmuid Byrnes hit a couple of huge frees. Peter Casey, Gearoid Hegarty and David Dempsey also scored and Limerick looked in the driving seat.
However, Cork landed five points in a row, took the lead and also held Limerick scoreless for thirteen minutes.
During that spell Limerick were exposed particularly around midfield and defence. The induction of Seamus Harnedy proved to be a crucial move by Cork. He scored and also made the goal.
When Diarmuid Byrnes scored a massive free from 90 meters it looked like he had closed the game out after 39 minutes of the second half.
Just like on many heart breaking occasions in the past, Cork played to the whistle and Cadogan’s magic stole the day.
It was a big game for the likes of Peter Casey and Kyle Hayes. They are still young and in the case of Hayes I just hope he is not getting too much too soon. Would he be getting such games so early in Kilkenny or Tipperary?
He has a bit to go when it comes to developing but the last few games will stand to him. Limerick now have an opportunity to focus on that Wexford game.
That is the game everyone is looking forward to. That is the game where we can really pass judgment on the style and progress so far.
As already mentioned Wexford will really go for it. I predict that a crowd of around ten thousand will attend this game. Limerick will need support in the stands that day.
The next task facing the management will be reduce numbers on the panel.
Some players have shown they have more to offer while some that we expected to deliver are struggling with the pace and physicality at senior level.