Cork: P. Collins; S. Murphy (J. McCarthy); K. O’Connor; A. Dennehy; K. McIntyre; M. Cahalane; P. Fitzgerald; C. Twomey (D. Mangan); B. O’Connell (0-1); J. Cashman (0-1; T. Horgan); D. Cahill (0-3; 0-1f); K. O’Neill; A. Sheehan (A. Spillane 1-0); R. Cahalane (J. O’Brien 0-2); P. O’Callaghan (0-5; 0-3f).
Limerick: D. Stapleton; S. Irwin; R. English; J. Carrig; D. Byrnes; B. O’Connell; E. Fitzgerald (D. Donovan); B. Finn (0-1); K. Cleary (D. Dee); R. Lynch (0-11; 0-9f); D. Condron; E. O’Farrell (A. La Touche Cosgrave); K. O’Brien (0-1; L. O’Sullivan 0-1); B. Griffin (0-1; P. Ryan); C. Lynch (0-1).
A disappointing result for Cork in a pretty mediocre first round Munster Minor hurling championship match in Cork tonight. Limerick, much stronger and more physical, were deserved winners, bullying Cork on the ground and in the air – beyond their opponent’s size, there wasn’t much of a difference in ability between Cork and Limerick. However, and even accepting for first round nerves, both sides looked pretty mediocre and even un-fit, neither team showing much or anything in the way of pace or style. Still, considering Limerick’s size and their consistent free-taker, one would think they are the very least going to be hard to beat.
For Limerick, there were a number of decent performers. The full-back was line ultra consistent from beginning to end, while Barry O’Connell was powerful at center-back. Brian Finn dominated the Cork midfield and won some eye catching aerial ball while Ronan Lynch was imperious from the dead-ball, never missing. Both corner-forwards were lively and dangerous the few times they got the ball, with Kevin O’Brien in particular playing well around the middle of the park when he was re-introduced in the last ten minutes. Finally substitute Liam O’Sullivan scored a brilliant point to win the game. In general, it was a decent Limerick performance, and both of the Lynch’s up front were impressive considering they have two more years at this grade.
For Cork, it was a slightly less impressive performance. Patrick Collins – another U-16 – was brilliant in goals, while Killian O’Connor and in particular Alan Dennehy were impressive in front of him. Our half-back line was decent throughout – in particular Paul Fitzgerald – but generally Limerick’s half-forwards bullied their counterparts under the dropping ball. Moreover, one can’t help but think McIntyre’s pace and drive would be better suited to midfield. The midfield struggled in the opening half but improved in the second, with Barra O’Connell having a purple patch in the closing ten minutes and substitute Daniel Mangan offering some physicality and aggression.
The half-forward line was mixed – Cahill and Cashman showed some nice flashes of class but O’Neill really stood out, working exceptionally hard throughout and regularly winning puck-outs. The inside forwards struggled, but the ball into them was poor, the complete inability to get the ball into the hands of Pa O’Callaghan costing Cork dearly. Finally, it seems like Cork got their starting 15 wrong – James O’Brien (two points when he came on) and Daniel Mangan impressed, while Micheal Cahalane was far superior at half-forward then he was at center-back. Possibly the next day both O’Brien and Mangan will start, with Twomey at half-back, Fitzgerald at 6 and Cahalane in the half-forwards. However, and more worryingly, Cork showed little to no pattern to their play, and seemed determined to hit high first time ball into their forwards, suiting Limerick perfectly. In truth, it didn’t look like a talentless Cork side, but it also didn’t look like a particularly well trained one, and with Clare and Limerick blocking our way to a Munster final one would assume Cork’s woes at this grade are likely to continue.