Limerick will contest their third Munster Senior Hurling Championship final in a row with a deserved eight-point semi-final win over Cork at Semple Stadium in Thurles on Saturday evening.

Late first-half goals from Darragh O'Donovan and then Kyle Hayes helped the All-Ireland champions lead by six points, 2-10 to 1-07 at the interval.

Limerick further extended their lead to win by eight to set up a Munster final showdown against either Clare or Tipperary in two weeks' time.

John Kiely’s men had recorded 10 wides in the opening 35 minutes, compared to Cork’s eight.

And then when Cork, Munster champions three years ago, hit back after the restart, Limerick, with the wind to their advantage, pulled away again as the Leesiders began to tire in the final quarter.

The 3,000 spectators allowed through the turnstiles were treated to a spectacular display of Championship hurling in an overcast but warm Thurles as Cork had a slight breeze to their advantage in the opening half.

Aaron Gillane opened the scoring for Limerick in the second minute after Seamus Flanagan won a free out wide.

A minute later, Limerick were two points to the good as Peter Casey – put through by Cian Lynch – found space to slot over from 30 yards.

Richie English returned to the Limerick line-up at full-back, making his first championship appearance since his side’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kilkenny in 2019.

The Doon clubman missed the entire 2020 All-Ireland campaign after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in a League match against Galway at the Gaelic Grounds I February of last year.

The Limerick full-back was the only constant in John Kiely’s side in the League games as the Treaty men used 35 different players over their five group games.

Current All-Star Dan Morrissey dropped to the bench for John Kiely’s star studded side.

Cork had the game's opening goal in the 16th minute.

A superb run forward by Cork full-back Niall O’Leary stretched the Limerick defence before Shane Kingston found the far corner of Nicky Quaid’s goal from a tight angle.

With the momentum now in Cork’s favour, an excellent over the shoulder Jack O’Connor point from a tight angle out wide put the Leesiders two points ahead at the first water break – 1-3 to 0-4.

Limerick were temporarily reduced to 14 men in the 26th minute.

Casey was deemed to have brought down Horgan inside the 'D’ but Quaid saved Horgan’s resulting penalty.

On the half hour mark, both sides were level for the first time thanks to two well-taken Lynch points.

By the 33rd minute the sides were level for the second as Gillane slotted over his fifth free to make 1-6 to 0-9.

The game’s two decisive goals came in quick succession in injury time as O’Donovan and Hayes both raised the green flag in the 36th and 38th minutes respectively.

Sean Finn had denied Cork their second goal with 10 minutes gone in the second half – the Bruff man’s flicked block stopped Horgan as he had goal on his mind.

Limerick maintained their six-point lead at the second half water break before O'Donoghue, Byrnes and Casey extended the winning margin to eight after Cork hit back.

Scores from Casey and Byrnes extended Limerick’s lead after the restart but Cork never gave up and Horgan added to his free tally to keep the Rebels within scoring distance.

Late points from Casey and substitute David Reidy put the nail in the Cork coffin with the Drom-Athlacca man getting the final say to put eight points between the two sides.

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Richie English, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes (0-02, 0-01f), Declan Hannon (capt), Kyle Hayes (1-00); William O’Donoghue (0-01), Darragh O’Donovan (1-00); Gearoid Hegarty (0-01), Cian Lynch (0-03), Tom Morrissey; A Gillane (0-06, 0-06f), Seamus Flanagan (0-02), Peter Casey (0-03)

Subs: Conor Boylan for Tom Morrissey (46), Dan Morrissey for Nash (56), Graeme Mulcahy (0-01) for Flanagan (57), David Reidy (0-02, 0-01f) for Hegarty (65), Pat Ryan for Gillane (66)

Cork: Patrick Collins; Niall O’Leary, Damien Cahalane, Sean O’Donoghue; Tim O’Mahony (0-01), Mark Coleman, Eoin Cadogan; Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-03), Ger Millerick; Conor Cahalane, Seamus Harnedy (0-01), Robbie O’Flynn (0-01); Shane Kingston (1-01), Patrick Horgan (capt.) (0-05, 0-05f), Jack O’Connor (0-03)

Subs: Shane Barrett (0-02) for Conor Cahalane (45), Luke Meade for Harnedy (50), Sean O’Leary Hayes for Niall O’Leary (51), Alan Cadogan for O’Flynn (55), Alan Connolly for Kingston (69)

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)