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Allianz HL D1: Cork stage dramatic comeback
Allianz Hurling League Division One Group A
Cork 2-17 Limerick 0-22
Shane Kingston scored an 80th-minute winner as a strong second-half revival saw Cork take the points in their Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A opener against Limerick at Pirc U Chaoimh on Saturday night.
Trailing by eight points at half-time before a crowd of 19,516, the Rebels battled back well in manager Pat Ryans first league game in charge and moved in front thanks to goals from Robbie OFlynn and Declan Dalton. However, the loss of OFlynn to a suspected ankle injury necessitated 10 minutes of injury time and four points moved Limerick into a 0-22 to 2-14 lead.
Cork continued to push though and Patrick Horgans tenth point was followed by Conor Lehanes first. After a goal half-chance was cleared, Lehanes sideline cut found Horgan, who provided the pass for sub Kingston to create space and shoot the winner.
Both sides had seven of the same starters as in their last championship outings Corks All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Galway and Limericks final win over Kilkenny but the Shannonsiders showed no real signs of being unsettled by the various changes in the first half.
Of course, John Kielys side were still able to rely on players like Dan Morrissey and Declan Hannon in the half-back line, Darragh ODonovan at midfield and half-forwards Gearid Hegarty and Tom Morrisey, making it easy to plug in other options around those pillars.
Limerick led by 0-16 to 0-8 at half-time, but the large-looking margin was mainly the result of a six-point surge between the 31stminute and the whistle. Up to then, Cork had competed well but throughout the first half there was a leakiness in terms of shooting five wides by the 11thminute and nine in the opening period as a whole as well as four attempts left short.
Goal opportunities were at a premium for the Rebels in that first half, with the only real half-chance coming in the 14thminute as Conor Lehanes pass allowed Robbie OFlynn to use his pace well but his low shot was from a tight angle and it travelled across the face of goal and wide without ever really looking like it would trouble goalkeeper David McCarthy.
Last year, Limerick trained hard during the league, giving the false impression that they might be faltering this time, they look to have more done than at the same stage in 2022 and that was displayed with some excellent team moves leading to scores.
In the 21stminute, the tireless Hegarty was back near his own goal, helping to prevent a Cork attacking developing into something dangerous; six passes later, he was slotting over his third point for a 0-10 to 0-5 advantage.
Corks response to that was good, with Patrick Horgan landing two one free and his Glen Rovers clubmate, full-back Eoin Downey, capping a good league debut with a fine effort.
That left them just two behind at the half-hour mark, but after Cork captain Sen ODonoghue was forced off injured Limerick turned on the turbo and Barry Murphy, Colin Coughlan and Samus Flanagan were among the scorers as they eased into that eight-point half-time advantage.
In the space of 11 minutes, it has been wiped out, with Brian Roche among those impressing for Cork. After a Horgan free, for which he had been fouled, Ciarn Joyces ball found Declan Dalton and his pass allowed Robbie OFlynn to fire home a great shot.
While David Reidy had his sixth for Limerick in reply, OFlynn set up Horgan for two more Cork points and then the Erins Own man was also the provider for the equalising goal. Though his low ball across looked to have evaded everybody, Dalton showed good desire to reach the sliothar and send a ground shot to the net.
Adam English did put Limerick back in front, but Corks play was more cohesive than in the first half and they retained the momentum. Horgan tied the game again with his eighth, his fourth from play, and the noise levels rose as Joyce landed a big one from distance to put the home side in front for the first time.
Another from Horgan left it 2-14 to 0-18 before another Reidy free and a long hold-up due to a nasty injury to the influential OFlynn. When the action resumed, Limerick sub Ciarn Barry levelled as the game moved into extended injury time and Oisn OReilly and Reidy gave them a cushion.
Cork had a late push in them, though.
Scorers for Cork: Patrick Horgan 0-10 0-5 frees, 0-1 65, Robbie OFlynn 1-1, Declan Dalton 1-0, Eoin Downey, Ciarn Joyce, Luke Meade, Brian Roche, Conor Lehane, Shane Kingston 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: David Reidy 0-8 0-7f, 0-1 65, Gearid Hegarty 0-3, Adam English, Colin Coughlan 0-2 each, Samus Flanagan, Tom Morrissey, Declan Hannon, Barry Murphy, Darragh ODonovan, Ciarn Barry, Donnacha Dlaigh 0-1 each.
Cork: Patrick Collins; Sen ODonoghue, Eoin Downey, Conor OCallaghan; Tommy OConnell, Ciarn Joyce, Damien Cahalane; Brian OSullivan, Luke Meade; Brian Roche, Conor Lehane, Cormac Beausang; Declan Dalton, Patrick Horgan, Robbie OFlynn.
Subs: Niall OLeary for ODonoghue 30, injured, Shane Kingston for Beausang 40, Shane Barrett for OSullivan 43, Brian Hayes for Dalton 55, Conor Cahalane for OFlynn 63, injured.
Limerick: David McCarthy; Sen Finn, Richie English, Aaron Costelloe; Dan Morrissey, Declan Hannon, Colin Coughlan; Darragh ODonovan, Barry Murphy; Gearid Hegarty, David Reidy, Tom Morrissey; Adam English, Samus Flanagan, Oisn OReilly.
Subs: Fergal OConnor for Costelloe 4-6, temp, Graeme Mulcahy for Reidy 48-49, blood, Ciarn Barry for Hannon 49, injured, Shane OBrien for OReilly 50, Mulcahy for English 55, Cian Lynch for Hegarty 58.
Referee: Fergal Horgan Tipperary.
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