Rebel relief as gallant Limerick rattle champs
Cork 2-6 Limerick 0-11
By Jim O’Sullivan for the Irish Examiner newspaper
GALLANT Limerick could take little comfort from the fact that they gave Cork the fright of their lives in yesterday’s GAA Munster football final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. In different circumstances, if the supposed All-Ireland contenders had not been given an early lifeline through a dubious penalty award, or wing-back Stephen Lavin had been on target with a goal attempt nearing half-time, the probability is that Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s excellently-prepared team would have been celebrating the end of a 113-year championship hoodoo.
In the event, after Stephen Kelly had halved a two-point deficit four minutes from the full-time whistle, they still had enough possession to have gained an equaliser. And after a splendid opening 35 minutes performance – during which they almost totally outplayed the holders through the intensity of their play and the quality of their scoretaking – that would have been the very least they would have deserved instead of having to endure such a shattering defeat. Forced to line out without Anthony Lynch and John Miskella – whose combined absence was to be felt over the first 45 minutes – Cork made a confident start through a James Masters point taken with ease after a mere 45 seconds. But remarkably that was to be one of only two scores from play they got over the course of the entire half.
The explanation for that was that Limerick were winning majority possession all over the field and were moving the ball about with pace and purpose, the consequence of which was that Cork could never get their normal game functioning and were largely devoid of any attacking threat of consequence. In sharp contrast, once Limerick got over early nerves, when some efforts at scores fell short more through a deficiency in their kicking than a lack of conviction, they started to put Cork under serious pressure. Notably, midfield exchanges didn’t have much of an impact on the way the game was being played out – Limerick’s Jim O’Donovan proving the most effective ball-winner – but what was to prove hugely influential was their penetration at half-forward.
Helped by a strong half-back line in which Stephen Lavin on the right played a key role all through, leading scorer Ian Ryan not only gave terrific leadership at centre-forward, but in the process as good as negated the impact of Cork captain Graham Canty (who was to finish the half on the left wing). Ryan’s accuracy from a variety of positions – it yielded him four points – boosted the Limerick effort considerably, as did the contribution from team captain Seanie Buckley on his left. And, other than conceding a 14th minute goal, their challenge went from strength to strength. The goal came from a penalty awarded to Daniel Goulding when he appeared to fall at the precise moment he tried to get in a shot, when tackled from behind.
And while Donncha O’Connor expertly converted it, over the 70 minutes his role was minimal, showing a capacity to win some good ball in the air but brilliantly marked by John McCarthy. Goulding was the one member of the attack, other than Pearse O’Neill at periodic stages, to play well, but he didn’t maximise his return. The effect of the goal was to see Limerick’s lead wiped out when Goulding (set up by O’Connor) levelled in the 17th minute, but that marked the end of Cork’s scoring and Limerick’s confidence visibly increased as they strengthened their grip.
After O’Connor might have got a (more deserving) penalty shortly afterwards, Limerick quickly regained their lead and other than more positive defending – with Michael Shields the most effective – Cork had little to offer by way of a more positive response to a deteriorating situation. At the break they trailed 0-8 to 1-2, but more aggressive all-round play saw them lift their standard quickly on the resumption.
However, while they created as many scoring chances in a ten minute period as they had over the opening half, poor shooting left them down. At the same time, stronger pressure almost forced full-back Mark O’Riordan to give away an own goal. Nearing the three-quarters stage, the game had reached a position close to stalemate, neither side having scored (Limerick’s penetration steadily weakening) and doubts still existing about Cork’s capacity to recover. But in typical form, they quickly transformed the game, with Goulding managing in a four-minute period to match their first half-scoring total. It came after a major turnaround in their defensive capability, reflected in a vast improvement in Canty’s play, continuing good form from substitute Paudie Kissane, solid covering from Kieran O’Connor and the dominance of Shields.
The net effect of which was to neutralise the threat from Ian Ryan and Seanie Buckley and seriously undermine their challenge overall. Goulding pointed in the 51st minute, then goaled from a ball crossed by Canty which was cleverly broken down by substitute Colm O’Neill – and then finished off one of the team’s best moves of the game to put Cork back in the lead. To Limerick’s great credit, they were quickly on level terms – through Lavin – before O’Neill with a great kick and O’Connor (from a free) gave Cork a two-point advantage ten minutes from the end of normal time. It set the scene for a dramatic conclusion to the game, with Limerick getting one back in the 68th minute through the crafty Kelly, minute but being frustrated in their endeavours to save the game through powerful Cork defending.
Scorers for Cork: D Goulding, 1-3; D O’Connor, 1-1 frees; J Masters and C O’Neill, 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: I Ryan, 0-4; S Buckley, 0-3; P Ranahan, G Collins, S Lavin and S Kelly 0-1 each.
Subs: P Kissane for O’Regan, 27; C O’Neill for Masters, 50; A Walsh for Spillane, 59; P O’Flynn for Kerrigan, 61; F Goold for A O’Connor, 64.
Subs: K O’Callaghan for Joyce-Power, 34; J Stokes for O’Callaghan, 55; A Lane for Gallagher, 62; E Hogan for Browne, 65.
Referee: R Hickey (Clare)
*Attendance: 20,676 (last year – 22,784, Cork v Kerry)
Rebels come back for narrow win
From the GAA.ie web site
Sunday, July 5.
Cork claimed the Munster title for the second year running at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday – but not without a massive struggle against rank outsiders Limerick.
Cork 2-6 Limerick 0-11
In the end, Conor Counihan’s Rebels stuttered over the line with a point to spare, but Limerick led for much of the game and but for some wayward second-half shooting could well have won their first provincial crown since 1896. The game turned when Colm O’Neill, the star of Cork’s GAA Cadbury’s All-Ireland Under-21 success, was introduced midway through the second half. O’Neill gave Cork a physical presence in attack and played a pivotal role in Daniel Goulding’s vital goal. O’Neill struck a glorious long-range effort that levelled the game minutes later and Cork dominated the closing stages to emerge with the win.
Cork’s reputation as the team most likely to break up Kerry and Tyrone’s dominance of the All-Ireland Championship was hardly accentuated, but manager Counihan will find comfort in the fact that his players came good when it really mattered. For Limerick, they will undoubtedly be dubbed – rather patronisingly given their superb showing – gallant losers after rattling the Rebels to their core and leading the game 0-8 to 1-2 at half-time. John Galvin was outstanding in midfield for Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s side, while the supremely talented Ian Ryan fired over four points from play in the opening half alone.
It could have been even more bleak for Cork had they not been awarded a somewhat fortuitous penalty, which Donncha O’Connor dispatched expertly to peg Limerick back after they had raced into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead. It looked like the spur the Rebels needed, but they failed to kick a single further score in the first half and it was Limerick, whose half-back line exposed some yawning gaps in the Cork armoury, who hit four more scores without reply.
Roll of Honour
SUNDAY JULY 5TH. 2009
At PAIRC UI CHAOIMH, CORK
Munster GAA Senior Football Championship FINAL
Corcaigh v Luimneach at 2.00p.m.
Reiteoir: Rory Hickey (An Clár)
Tickets for the Munster Football Final are available on line since Friday morning June 19th
- Tickets will cost €35 for adults to the covered stand, €30 for adults to the uncovered stand and €20 to the terrace.
- Juveniles can purchase tickets for €5 to either of the stands.
- Student terrace tickets are available through the participating county boards for €15.
- Senior Citizens can obtain a refund of €10 on full priced stand tickets at designated turnstiles on production of valid ID prior to entering the stadium.
- Family tickets are available at €5 per child accompanied with an adult and must be booked through the clubs in the participating Counties.
- Group Rates – €3 per child with 1 Adult free with every 10 children. Tickets must be booked in advance through the participating County Boards.
Special Ticket Package for Munster Senior and Minor Finals
The Munster Council have put together a special package for the 2009 Munster Senior and Minor Hurling and Football Finals. The package consists of a ticket to both the Munster football and hurling finals and is offered at €5 discount per game. For example, if someone chooses to buy a covered stand ticket for both games they will be charged €60 and not €70 if purchase separately. These special tickets will be available online from 10:00am on Thursday morning June 25th while stocks last.
To purchase Munster GAA tickets please click here
CORK (SF v Limerick) – Alan Quirke (Valley Rovers); Ray Carey (Clyda Rovers), Michael Shields (St. Finbarrs), Anthony Lynch (Naomh Aban); John Miskella (Ballincollig), Graham Canty (Bantry Blues-Capt.), Kieran O’Connor (Aghada); Alan O’Connor (St. Colms), Nicholas Murphy (Carrigaline); Paddy Kelly (Ballincollig), Pearse O’Neill (Aghada), Paul Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers); Daniel Goulding (Eire Og), James Masters (Nemo Rangers), Donncha O Connor (Ballydesmond)
LIMERICK (SF v Cork) – Limerick: S Kiely; J McCarthy, S Gallagher, M O’Riordan, S Lavin, S Lucey, P Ranahan, J O’Donovan, J Galvin, P Browne, C Joyce-Power, S Buckley (Capt), G Collins, S Kelly, I Ryan
County Flags will be distributed FREE to all children at the Final.
Music will be provided by the Band of the First Southern Brigade
The match will be shown live on TV3.
Captains of Munster Final Winning Senior Football Teams will be presented to the crowd at half-time in the Senior Final.
Munster Football Final Preview
From the GAA.ie web site
Saturday, July 4
Cork and Limerick meet in the Munster football final for the first time since 1901, with the Rebels looking for their fourth provincial title of the decade, while the Treaty men have a slightly more modest record having failed to lift the trophy since 1896. History is against Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s side, but they need only look to the Munster clash between the two sides last year to realise that they have the ability to pull off a massive shock. Cork used their ‘get out of jail free card’ that day and needed two late goals to escape with a win. However, that was manager Conor Counihan’s first Championship game in charge and he has completely reshaped his team since then. Although the core of the Cork team has remained unchanged, Counihan has impressed sharp observers with his eye for introducing talent that may have flown beneath the radar of some of his predecessors.
Counihan has looked beyond the traditional strongholds of Cork football and given opportunities to a host of players who may not have previously been given a chance to wear the blood and bandage. The gamble has paid off handsomely and Cork now have arguably the strongest squad in the entire Championship. Doubts over their big game mentality were all but erased with the eight-point replay win over Kerry, and admirers have been queuing up to praise the brand of football they play. It’s an all-action, aggressive style, but they now have the talent in the inside forward line to finish teams of when it really matters.
Limerick have enjoyed a slightly more underwhelming path to the final, beating Tipperary and Clare. However, the win over John Evans’ Tipperary was a brilliant confidence booster after they struggled in Allianz NFL Division Three this year. Part of Limerick’s success has been the availability of their dual players, while Stephen Kelly has returned from a broken hand just in time to take his place at full-forward. The battle between Cork full- back Michael Shields and Kelly will be key on Sunday. Cork have made just one enforced change, bringing Kieran O’Connor in at wing-back in place of the suspended Noel O’Leary. The availability of John Miskella on the other wing is a major plus as the Ballincollig clubman has enjoyed a vintage season.
Cork should prove too strong in the middle third, and if they get their tails up, players like Nicholas Murphy, Alan O’Connor and the supremely fit Pearse O’Neill could cause serious damage through the heart of the Limerick defence. Cork’s ability to counter-attack with pace from defence is their most potent weapon, and unless the wily Mickey Ned has some sort of tactical plan in store, the Rebels could run out easy winners.
Cork: A Quirke; R Carey, M Shields, A Lynch; J Miskella, G Canty, K O’Connor; A O’Connor, N Murphy; P Kelly, P O’Neill, P Kerrigan; D Goulding, J Masters, D O’Connor.
Limerick: S. Kiely; J. McCarthy, S. Gallagher, M. O’Riordan; S. Lavin, S. Lucey, P. Ranaghan; J. O’Donovan, J. Galvin; P. Browne, C. Joyce-Power, S. Buckley; G. Collins, S. Kelly, I. Ryan.