Pat Ryan praised the character of his Cork players after they produced a superb second-half rally to down All-Ireland champions Limerick in their Allianz Hurling League opener.
The Rebels trailed by eight points at the interval after a Limerick purple patch late in the half, coupled with some wasteful shooting from the hosts at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
But Ryan's side hit back after the restart and drew level with goals from Robbie O’Flynn and Declan Dalton, setting up a gripping final quarter.
Limerick led by two points in the sixth minute of injury-time but Cork again restored parity courtesy of Patrick Horgan and Conor Cahalane scores, before Shane Kingston popped with a dramatic winner at the death.
'We ask our fella to play with character, and they did that in the second half' - Cork manager Pat Ryan on how his team turned around their fortunes against Limerick pic.twitter.com/edGCl5uUJ2— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) February 4, 2023
"We played well enough in the first half [but] had a lot of wides," Cork manager Ryan told RTÉ Sport.
"Limerick got a run on us for the last six minutes, they’re a fantastic bunch of players who move the ball well. They got six great scores and put us under a lot of pressure going in at half-time.
"Our fellas, what we ask them to do is play with character and represent the jersey well, and they did that in the second half.
Shane Kingston wins it for Cork at the death to complete a Rebel comeback against Limerick on the opening weekend of the league— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) February 4, 2023
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"There’s loads of learnings for us, lots of mistakes were being made, but it’s very early [in the season].
"You have to take the positives. We’re trying to build confidence within the group. There’s loads of time to be working on the areas that need it.
"In fairness to the lads, they dug their heels in against an excellent team. Our subs gave us a bit of bounce off the bench."
Patrick Horgan was the player of the match as Cork edged out Limerick at the death pic.twitter.com/R69aegrasZ— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) February 4, 2023
Horgan produced a player-of-the-match performance for Cork, scoring 0-10 points with seven of those coming from placed balls.
The veteran forward felt the half-time score gave an unfair reflection of the contest and was delighted with Cork's response.
"The first half, being down by eight points, we didn’t deserve that," said Horgan. "I thought we played well for 25 minutes but lost our way for the last five or ten, and you can’t give Limerick any time to gather momentum like that. They punished us.
"At half-time the message was to keep doing the same thing, to keep driving on and going to the ball, and we’ll get our chances. Thankfully we did and we took them."
'This will be good for Cork's confidence' - It's only the start of February, but every positive should be welcomed says @DonalOgC pic.twitter.com/X6hczUgJrP— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) February 4, 2023
Horgan put Cork’s poor first-half conversion rate down to the fact it is still very early in the season.
"We did the right thing a lot, it just didn’t work out in the first half with a couple of shots," he said.
"In the second half, we were saying that if we get those opportunities again, to take them because they don’t come too easy.
"No matter what happened tonight, we have a lot of work to do. We know that going forward. It’s onto Galway next and we’ll have a hard week’s training.
"We’ll try and learn a lot from this because playing against Limerick, they’re the standard. Any time we get to play against them, you’re learning a lot. And we certainly did."