All-Ireland SHC Semi-Final
Cork 1-28 Limerick 0-29

By Cian O’Connell at Croke Park

An electric afternoon at GAA headquarters, culminated with Cork earning an All-Ireland SHC final berth.

Limerick, admirably courageous until the bitter end, responded on numerous occasions throughout an absorbing encounter, but Cork still found a way to survive. A repeat of the 2013 national decider now beckons.

From the first whistle the Drumcondra venue rocked. Cork went 1-8 to 0-6 ahead by the 20th minute, but Limerick replied to lead by two at the interval.

Then in the third quarter Cork enjoyed a productive burst, accumulating a seven point advantage before Limerick came thundering back. It was that sort of game, but Cork had the answers.

Level at 0-6 each after 14 minutes, Cork subsequently struck 1-2 without reply. Séamus Harnedy, industrious and inspirational, rifled over a point that was quickly followed by a goal from the brilliant Brian Hayes.

The Barrs man rattled the Limerick net following a Shane Barrett assist. When Hayes added a point, Cork were five to the good.

What happened next? Limerick struck five points in a row. Tom Morrissey, Diarmaid Byrnes, Cathal O’Neill, Cian Lynch, and the splendid Aaron Gillane contributed scores to restore parity.

During that enterprising Limerick spell, Cork custodian Patrick Collins made an excellent save to thwart Gillane.

It continued at a decent clip, Hayes pointing for Cork, but two Gillane efforts were sandwiched either side of a Reidy score. Limerick were hugely effective in the second quarter, eventually departing armed with a 0-16 to 1-11 lead.

In the 12 minutes after the restart, though, Cork regained composure. Demonstrating real class, Cork were landing immaculate scores. Darragh Fitzgibbon, Patrick Horgan, Barrett, Alan Connolly, Declan Dalton, and Hayes delivered in style as Cork pulled 1-21 to 0-19 clear.

Gillane lofted over a point for Limerick, but Cork were motoring smoothly. Harnedy thumped over two beauties with Horgan nailing a free, ensuring the gap was a sizeable 1-24 to 0-20 with 19 minutes remaining.

Limerick ploughed on, with substitutes Shane O’Brien and Adam English occupying central roles in the comeback mission.

The margin was paired down to four in the 62nd minute, but points from Horgan (free) and Hayes, following another Harnedy contribution had Cork 1-28 to 0-25 in front.

In the dying embers Gillane (free), O’Brien, English, and Gearóid Hegarty registered points for Limerick, but sufficient Cork damage had been inflicted. Limerick’s greatness since 2018 meant that this was a cherished win for Cork, who return to the Jones Road theatre in a fortnight.

Scorers for Cork: Brian Hayes 1-4, Patrick Horgan 0-5 (4fs), Séamus Harnedy and Declan Dalton (2fs) 0-4 each, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Shane Barrett, and Alan Connolly 0-3 each, Rob Downey and Mark Coleman 0-1 each.

Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-10 (4fs), David Reidy, Cathal O’Neill, and Diarmaid Byrnes (2fs) 0-3 each, Tom Morrissey, Shane O’Brien, and Adam English 0-2 each, Kyle Hayes, Cian Lynch, Gearóid Hegarty, and Séamus Flanagan 0-1 each.

Cork: Patrick Collins; Niall O’Leary, Eoin Downey, Seán O’Donoghue; Mark Coleman, Rob Downey, Ciarán Joyce; Tim O’Mahony, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Declan Dalton, Shane Barrett, Séamus Harnedy; Patrick Horgan, Alan Connolly, Brian Hayes.

Subs: Shane Kingston for Horgan (34-35, blood), Ethan Twomey for O’Mahony (58), Shane Kingston for Dalton (62), Robbie O’Flynn for Harnedy (66), Jack O’Connor for Horgan (70+2).

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Mike Casey, Dan Morrissey, Seán Finn; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; William O’Donoghue, Cian Lynch; Gearóid Hegarty, Cathal O’Neill, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Séamus Flanagan, David Reidy.

Subs: Shane O’Brien for Flanagan (52), Adam English for Reidy (53), Darragh O’Donovan for O’Donoghue (53), Aidan O’Connor for T Morrissey (63).

Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).