CORK’S bench would play a huge role in beating Limerick 2-29 to 0-21 after extra-time in the Munster U20 Hurling semi-final at the LIT Gaelic Grounds this evening.
Cork lead by four nearing the end of normal time but a run of Aidan O’Connor scores brought it to extra-time.
Three sidelines from substitute Colin O’Brien in extra-time took the winds out of the Limerick sails as they eventually fell to a 14-point defeat.
Cork move on to face Waterford or Tipperary in the final on December 23.
Cork would get off the board first through Brian Roche after three minutes but were lucky not to trail immediately after as Cathal O’Neill missed his strike on goal before Cathal Downes’ goalbound effort was re deflected wide.
Alan Connolly would double the deficit on eight minutes. A minute later, Brian Roche would make it three in a row for the Rebels. Again his score would be followed by a free, this time Tommy O’Connell making it 0-4 to 0-0 after ten minutes.
By this stage, Limerick had racked up four wides, missing three frees.
Eventually, Limerick got off the mark after 13 as Dylan O’Shea pointed a free. Two minutes later, in the final act before the waterbreak, Cathal O’Neill would notch an exceptional score to leave it 0-4 to 0-2.
Limerick would get the first score after the restart as a brilliant run by Mark Quinlan was finished by his clubmate O’Shea.
Cork’s response was immediate however as they went down the field and got the first goal of the game courtesy of a brilliant Shane Barrett strike.
Aidan O’Connor and Connolly would exchange frees before two more Cork scores pushed them six clear after 28 minutes.
They would maintain that advantage for a 1-7 to 0-4 lead at half time.
Bryan Nix would immediately open the scoring for Limerick in the second half. Josh Considine would then add another with a wonderful effort on the backfoot out on the sideline.
Limerick would turnover the puckout with O’Neill flicking over to bring it back to a goal. Cormac Ryan’s huge free a minute later would further reduce the deficit.
Shane Barrett would stem the tide somewhat on 36 minutes. Ryan would reply with another big free.
Daire Connery would match Ryan’s with a long range free before Brian Hayes pushed them four clear.
Aidan O’Connor’s free would be the final effort before the last water break as Cork lead 1-10 to 0-10.
Substitute Mark McCarthy would make an instant impact with a point after the restart.
Again Barrett would reply for the Rebels but Cathal O’Neill was on hand to cancel it out from the puckout.
Shane O’Regan was then introduced and pointed for Cork to leave it 1-12 to 0-13 in their favour after 53.
Two on the bounce from Alan Connolly gave them a four point cushion but Aidan O’Connor brought it back to three after 57.
O’Connor made it 1-14 to 0-15 approaching injury time. He would repreat the feat a minute later to leave Limerick trailing by two heading into three minutes of injury time.
It was a one point game after 61 with O’Connor again pointing from a placed ball.
Incredibly, the Ballybrown man would level it in the final minute of additional time with a nerveless free.
There would be one final chance for Cork to level but a super hook from Sean Long sniffed out the Cork threat as the ref blew the whistle to send the game to extra-time.
Connery would draw first blood in extra-time but O’Connor was on hand once again to level.
Colin O’Brien then channeled his inner Joe Canning to drive over a brace of sidelines back-to-back to give Cork the initiative.
Aidan O’Connor then proved his worth from play to bring it back to a point. Connolly would add to his tally with a free.
Incredibly, O’Brien would get a third sideline in four minutes to push Cork three clear which Brian Hayes would add to in the ninth minute of added time.
Hayes doubled his tally a minute later as Cork took a 1-21 to 0-19 lead.
Connery’s next long range free would give Cork daylight at halftime of Extra Time.
A brilliant Cathal O’Neill effort began the scoring in the second period of extra time but was quickly cancelled out by Shane O’Regan.
O’Neill responded in kind but Cork would grab a run of scores to put the game to bed as Limerick wouldn’t score in the final eight minutes.
Brian Hayes’ goal after 80 minutes killed off the contest as Beary’s side fell to the Rebels for the second consecutive season.
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