It was a disappointing day on Leeside for Limerick as their season came to an end.
The Limerick footballers missed out on what would have been a second ever All-Ireland quarter-final as they were defeated by Cork 2-18 to 1-16 in the qualifiers yesterday.
Billy Lee’s men looked to be in control for large parts of the first half but couldn’t take advantage of their superiority as the Rebels held a slender half time lead.
Limerick levelled shortly after the resumption but a ten minute spell with 14 players proved detrimental for the Shannonsiders as Cork kicked 1-3 without reply to put the result past the visitors.
Reflecting on the defeat, Lee praised the effort of his squad who replied to the Munster final setback with a hugely positive performance against Cork.
“Look we have a very competitive squad and we want to keep it competitive and lads deserve a chance you know. The lads that started, it wasn’t certainly on form, anyone was taken out from the Kerry game it was just about putting in lads, we played a challenge against Galway and fellas have deserved an opportunity.
“The lads who had started started against Kerry got us to a Munster final they didn’t they didn’t need to prove anything to us and we needed to see where we were as a group ahead of division two next year when you’re playing teams of this calibre.
“We think we might have a competitive squad in division two, have we? I think it’s fair to say we have, we’ve work to do but look we’re bitterly disappointed.
“I would have kind of backed the lads after the Munster final to anyone who had listened, these lads are a tremendous bunch, I’d be really really proud of them. I never had any doubt in my head that these lads would step up here today and compete and even when the game is slipped away they kept banging on it.
“When the second goal came they kept banging at it and that’s all you want from a team you know it’s but it’s disappointing that we didn’t get over the line.”
Limerick looked to have turned a corner in the final ten minutes after Brian Donovan’s wonder goal was followed by the dismissal of Paul Walsh with just two points between the sides.
But Cork countered and with the Rebels bearing down on goal, Paul Maher fouled as Brian Hurley made no mistake to put daylight between the teams.
From here, Cork eased to victory with Lee having no complaints about the tackle but instead the lead up with Cork moving too easily through the lines.
“I suppose if Paul didn’t make the tackle he would have scored the goal wouldn’t he so you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, the problem is it came out too easy from the forward line. I mean that high up the field and they escaped.
“You know the likes of Matty Taylor and Sean Powter, they’re seriously pacey like and I can’t remember how it worked up, but I think it’s fair to say that if the tackle didn’t go in he would have just just stuck it anyway maybe not I don’t know.”
Despite the disappointing result that ends Limerick’s season, 2022, like the years prior under the Newcastle native, has been littered with bright spots as the team continues to hit new heights.
With Division Two football on the agenda for 2023, Lee is hoping for continued development in the squad ahead of what promises to be a gruelling but exciting spring schedule.
“There’s definitely depth in the squad in terms of competition between the players, trying to keep them all happy is the problem because look historically the Limerick football jersey he doesn’t hold fellas and you know everyone needs to realize the serious effort that’s been put in by county players up and down the length of the country and everyone sees the team going well not so well.
“There’s 19 fellas behind the scene that might not be playing in a given time and they can’t be forgotten. I was conscious of that so look yeah you’d be really happy with the squad, there’s no question about that. You’ll be looking to try and add to it and bring on another step and challenge the lads to challenge themselves and all that kind of stuff so we’ll see.”
Watch the full interview with Lee below.