Limerick reach All-Ireland Hurling Final after stunning comeback

Shane Dowling scored Limerick's second goal from a penalty in extra time. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Limerick’s hurlers will contest their first All-Ireland Hurling Final since 2007 after beating Cork after extra time at Croke Park on Sunday.

John Kiely’s side clawed back a six point deficit in the final 10 minutes to book a black in the August 19 decider against either Clare or Galway.

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Goals from super sub Shane Dowling and Pat Ryan in extra time saw Limerick to an astonishing 3-32 to 2-31 victory.

A Cian Lynch goal had helped Limerick to a one point advantage at half time but Cork began to take control in the early stages of the second half with Daniel Kearney and Darragh Fitzgibbon impressing.

Conor Lehane’s goal in the 53rd minute looked to have sank Limerick but the introduction of Dowling changed Limerick’s fortunes.

The Na Piarsaigh sharpshooter’s first call of duty was to put over a difficult free from long range.

Efforts from Kyle Hayes, Aaron Gillane (two frees) and Dowling again brought Limerick to within a point, before Gillane sent over one from play to level it up.

Limerick keeper Nickie Quaid then made a brilliant intervention as the game clicked into added time when Seamus Harnedy had the goal at his mercy.

Gillane soon had Limerick in front from a placed ball but Patrick Horgan forced extra time with a free under intense pressure.

Limerick were the dominant side in extra time. Gillane missed his third goal opportunity the game from their first attack of the added period and added another free.

The key moment in the entire game came when Dowling burst in on goal and Mark Ellis pushed him to the ground and referee Paud O’Dwyer awarded a penalty.

Dowling dusted himself to take the penalty himself and fired his effort into the top corner to the delight of the Limerick crowd.

Pat Ryan soon followed up with a superb individual effort that finished with a lob over the advancing Cork keeper Anthony Nash.

Cork added a late goal from a Horgan long range free late on but Limerick were not to be denied a place in this year’s All-Ireland Final.

Scorers – Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-13 (7f), Shane Dowling 1-4 (1-0 pen, 1f), Cian Lynch 1-1, Graeme Mulcahy 0-4, Pat Ryan 1-0, Gearoid Hegarty 0-3, Diarmaid Byrnes (1f), Darragh O’Donovan, Seamus Flanagan, Tom Morrissey, Kyle Hayes, Barry Nash and David Reidy 0-1 each.

Scorers – Cork: Patrick Horgan 1-11 (10f), Conor Lehane 2-3, Darragh Fitzgibbon 0-4, Seamus Harnedy and Daniel Kearney 0-3, Shane Kingston and Mark Coleman (1 sideline) 0-2 each, Luke Meade, Christopher Joyce and Jack O’Connor 0-1.

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Darragh O’Donovan, Cian Lynch; Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Graeme Mulcahy; Subs: Peter Casey for T Morrissey (51 mins), Shane Dowling for Flanagan (56 mins), Pat Ryan for Mulcahy (63 mins), Will O’Donoghue for O’Donovan (71 mins), Seamus Hickey for Byrnes (77 mins), Barry Nash for Gillane (82 mins), David Reidy for Hannon (85 mins).

Cork: Anthony Nash; Sean O’Donoghue, Damien Cahalane, Colm Spillane; Christopher Joyce, Eoin Cadogan, Mark Coleman; Bill Cooper, Darragh Fitzgibbon; Daniel Kearney, Seamus Harnedy, Luke Meade; Shane Kingston, Conor Lehane, Patrick Horgan; Subs: Robbie O’Flynn for Kingston (55 mins), Mark Ellis for Kearney (60 mins), Tim O’Mahony for Meade (64 mins), Michael Cahalane for Cadogan (71 mins), Kearney for M Cahalane (extra time), Cahalane for Harnedy (76 mins), Kingston for Fitzgibbon (78 mins), Jack O’Connor for Kearney (85 mins).

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)