/ GAA

Cork 2-06 Limerick 0-11

Updated: Sunday, 05 Jul 2009 21:35

Cork's Donncha O'Connor gets away from Padraig Browne of Limerick
Cork's Donncha O'Connor gets away from Padraig Browne of Limerick

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Cork had to come from behind to win their 36th Munster SFC title with a narrow win over a battling Limerick side in a thrilling final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The Treatymen, who were relegated to Division Four of the NFL this season, threatened to spark a sensation when they ran the hot favourites ragged for much of a fast-moving decider.

It was an inspired performance from Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s men, who finally ran out of steam in the closing stages.

Goals from Donncha O’Connor and Daniel Goulding proved decisive in the end, but Limerick will take immense encouragement from their display.

Limerick performed with a refreshing energy throughout the first half, showing no fear of the reputations that Cork brought into the game.

And in Ian Ryan and skipper Seanie Buckley they had men with an eye for goal and an exceptional ability to find the target from all angles.

Ryan kicked four and Buckley swept over three in the opening half, all from play and many the result of foraging from Ger Collins, with defender Pa Ranahan also driving forward to contribute a classy score.

After James Masters’ opening point, Cork struggled to create scoring opportunities, and repeatedly came unstuck against stoic defenders Shane Gallagher and dual men Mark O’Riordan and Stephen Lucey.

Gallagher was rather harshly punished for a foul on Donncha O’Connor, who tucked away the resultant penalty in the 14th minute, but the Rebels managed just one further point in the first half.

Limerick continued to hit the target, and could have had a goal when Stephen Kelly released Stephen Lavin, but the wing back pulled his shot wide at the far post.

The Treatymen deservedly led by 0-08 to 1-02 at the break, and continued to suffocate the Rebel attackers after the break.

O’Connor and Daniel Goulding both floated 45s wide of the mark, and a frustrated Cork side couldn’t buy a score.

They did finally end a 37 minute barren spell when goalkeeper Sean Kiely pushed Goulding’s shot over the bar, and a moment later the same player drilled home a superb 53rd minute goal to bring his side level.

Graham Canty rose to the challenge, and did the spadework for the Goulding score that put the Rebels back in front for the first time since the seventh minute.

Lavin and substitute Colm O’Neill swapped scores, and Cork were still a point to the good going into the final 10 minutes.

O'Connor stretched the lead from a free, and with the Cork defence now getting the measure of a tiring Limerick attack, they held out for the most slender of title wins.

Cork: A Quirke, R Carey, M Shields, K O’Connor, G Spillane, G Canty, B O’Regan, A O'Connor, N Murphy, P Kelly, P O'Neill, P Kerrigan, D Goulding (1-03), J Masters (0-01), D O'Connor (1-01, 1-00 pen, 0-01f).

Subs: P Kissane for O’Regan (26), C O’Neill (0-1) for Masters (49), A Walsh for Spillane (58), P O’Flynn for Kerrigan (61), F Goold for O’Connor (63).

Limerick: S Kiely, J McCarthy, S Gallagher, M O'Riordan, S Lavin (0-01), S Lucey, P Ranahan (0-01), J O'Donovan, J Galvin, P Browne, C Joyce-Power, S Buckley (0-03), G Collins (0-01), S Kelly (0-01), I Ryan (0-04).

Subs: K O’Callaghan for Joyce-Power (33), J Stokes for O’Callaghan, A Lane for Gallagher (62), E Hogan for Browne.

Referee: R Hickey (Clare).