A blistering first-half performance saw Limerick secure their first win of the season as they trounced Cork with a winning margin of eight points at a sun-drenched LIT Gaelic Grounds on Saturday evening.
In what was dress rehearsal for next month's Munster Hurling Championship semi-final, the Shannonsiders ultimately won out by a 0-33 to 2-19 scoreline in Saturday evening's Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A encounter in near-perfect conditions at the Ennis Road venue.
Limerick, playing against a slight breeze, began much the brighter and despite clocking up three wides inside two minutes were four points to the good with 10 on the clock - 0-06 to 0-02 - Aaron Gillane landing two frees inside five minutes, while William O’Donoghue, Diarmuid Byrnes (free) and Cian Lynch got John Kiely’s men off to a flying start.
A dream opening for debutant Colin Coughlan saw the Leaving Cert student from Ballybrown score an impressive two points from left half-back.
Cork levelled thanks to a Jack O’Connor goal on 12 minutes, after Tadgh Deasy had hit the crossbar but Limerick hit four without reply, two from Peter Casey, to extend their lead to 0-11 to 1-03 at the first water break.
Cork failed to score from play after the water-break as further scores from Pat Ryan (2), Barry Nash and Gillane’s sixth score of the game made it 0-20 to 1-7 at the break.
A much improved second-half performance saw the visitors narrow the margin to seven points within five minutes of the restart.
Cork scored their first score from play since before the opening half water-break when Robbie O’Flynn slotted over in the 38th minute.
'That's the score of the match' - Diarmaid Byrnes finishes off a nice team score as Limerick stretch their lead back out to 10 points - Watch Limerick v Cork live on @RTE2 and @RTEPlayer #GAA #AllianzLeagues pic.twitter.com/TACkV2qMaI— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 5, 2021
The in-form Gillane responded with two frees for Limerick before Morrissey and Byrnes pushed them 0-24 to 1-11 ahead with 23 minutes remaining to put the home side in control yet again.
Richie English cleared the ball off the line but minutes later Cork found the net for the second time, but it proved to be too little too late for Kieran Kingston’s side.
Jack O’Connor scored his second from a very tight angle to give Cork a glimmer of hope as both sides took much-needed water on board – 0-27 to 2-11 in favour of Limerick at the second waterbreak.
Half time substitute Partick Horgan made a massive difference scoring nine points to give the Leesiders a fighting chance in the closing 35 minutes.
However, Limerick cruised to a comfortable victory as Gillane added his ninth free in a game that was certainly won in the opening 35 minutes.
Limerick: B Hennessy; R English, S Finn, B Nash (0-01); D Byrnes (0-03; 0-01f, 0-01 65), D Hannon, C Coughlan (0-02); W O’Donoghue (0-01), D O'Donovan (0-01); T Morrissey (0-04), C Lynch (0-04), C Boylan; P Ryan (0-02), A Gillane (0-10; 0-09f), P Casey (0-02)
Subs used: J Boylan for Finn (48), C O’Neill (0-02) for C Boylan (55), D O’Connell for Ryan, A Breen (0-01) for Casey (both 59), R Hanley for O’Donovan (65) G Mulchay for Gillane, R Connolly for Hannon (both 66)
Cork: P Collins; S O’Leary Hayes, D Cahalane (0-01), N O’Leary; G Millerick, M Coleman (0-02; 0-02f), R Downey; B Hennessy, D Connery; C Cahalane (0-01), S Kingston (0-02), R O’Flynn (0-01); A Cadogan, D Dalton (0-02; 0-02f), J O’Connor (2-1)
Subs used: P Horgan for D Dalton (0-09; 0-06f, 0-02 65), L Meade for Connery, N Cashman for Downey (all half time), S Barrett for O’Flynn (48), S Twomey for T Deasy for (58), A Connolly for Kingston (67) C O’Brien for C Cahalane (70)
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway)