All-Ireland champions Limerick stunned by defeat to Cork in Munster Hurling Championship

Jerome O'Connell in the LIT Gaelic Grounds

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Jerome O'Connell in the LIT Gaelic Grounds

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joconnell@limerickleader.ie

Limerick

Graeme Mulcahy strikes for a score in the LIT Gaelic Grounds

DEFEAT for All-Ireland champions Limerick in the opening game of their title defence in the Munster SHC.

Cork were worthy 1-26 to 1-19 winners in the LIT Gaelic Grounds with a dominant second half from John Meyler's side, who bounce back from a round one loss to Tipperary last Sunday.

Limerick must now regroup to play Waterford in Walsh Park on Sunday week.

This was a game where Limerick never found their form of 2018, with thoughts of the Spring Allianz League title quickly eroded by a Cork side that brought a fierce hunger to the tie.

Watched by 31,274 Limerick were 1-11 to 0-12 ahead at half time with a 26th minute Graeme Mulcahy goal seperating the teams.

It was a half when Limerick were aided by the breeze and the sides evenly shared six wides.

The teams were level on six occasions before the Mulcahy goal put daylight between the teams for the first time.

Cork did lead at 0-2 to 0-1 and at 0-4 to 0-3 but weren't ahead from the ninth minute until the interval.

Aaron Gillane and Mulcahy points had Limerick 0-3 to 0-2 ahead after six minutes but The Rebels did regain the lead before the game had reached 10-minutes.

A second Mulcahy point either side of Gillane frees nudged Limerick two clear for the first time but the game was again tied, 0-8 each after 23-minutes.

Then came the Limerick goal - Declan Hannon striking goalwards, and perhaps for a score, but Mulcahy was onto the dropping ball and although to the left of the posts the Kilmallock man smashed past Anthony Nash from a tight angle.

The lead was four points at 1-10 to 0-9 but Cork then found a run of points.

In injury time a clever Cian Lynch pass almost put Gearoid Hegarty in for another goal chance but it went abegging and it fell to Gillane to end the scoring with his fifth of the day for a two point half time lead.

Cork looked the sharper from the off in the second half with points from Luke Meade, Alan Cadogan and Daniel Kearney moving them ahead, 0-16 to 1-12.

They continued to power forward and were rewarded with a Patrick Horgan goal in the 51st minute to moved 1-18 to 1-14 ahead.

Seamus Harnedy points extended the lead as Limerick failed to get a foothold despite the arrival of subs Seamus Flanagan and Shane Dowling, among others.

The lead was six points inside the final minutes when sub Declan Dalton pointed with his first touch.

SCORERS: Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-9 (8frees), Graeme Mulcahy 1-4, Diarmaid Byrnes (2frees) and Shane Dowling (2frees) 0-2 each, Kyle Hayes and Tom Morrissey 0-1 each. Cork: Patrick Horgan 1-9 (6frees), Daniel Kearney and Seamus Harnedy 0-4 each, Alan Cadogan 0-3, Luke Meade and Declan Dalton 0-2 each, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Conor Lehane 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Cian Lynch, Darragh O'Donovan; Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Peter Casey, Aaron Gillane, Graeme Mulcahy. Subs: Seamus Flanagan for Peter Casey (54mins), Shane Dowling for Gearoid Hegarty (56mins), Barry Murphy for Graeme Mulcahy (61mins), William O'Donoghue for Darragh O'Donovan (61mins), David Dempsey for Aaron Gillane (65mins).

CORK: Anthony Nash; Sean O'Donoghue, Eoin Cadogan, Niall O'Leary; Robert Downey, Mark Ellis, Mark Coleman; Bill Cooper, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Daniel Kearney, Seamus Harnedy, Luke Meade; Conor Lehane, Patrick Horgan, Aidan Walsh. Subs: Alan Cadogan for Conor Lehane, inj (5mins), Stephen McDonnell for Sean O'Donoghue (h-t), Christopher Joyce for Robert Downey (52mins), Shane Kingston for Luke Meade (61mins), Declan Dalton for Aidan Walsh (65mins).

REFEREE: Paud O'Dwyer (Carlow).