Cork manager John Meyler sees victory slip away from the Rebels
SEAMUS Harnedy was right in front of the posts with time almost up and the sliothar – and the game – in his grasp. A match-winning goal seemed certain but Limerick goalkeeper Nickie Quaid somehow found a way to deny him and the rest is history.
Cork’s recent history in Croke Park has been one of disappointment and there was more yesterday for manager John Meyler after a titanic battle with the Treatymen in front of over 71,000 fans.
“Disappointment is an understatement,” admitted the Cork manager.
“We were six points up in the 62nd minute but failed to close out the game and that was a critical point. Their goal with Cian Lynch… I don’t know was (Daniel) Kearney fouled? Limerick drove on and then (Peter) Casey and (Shane) Dowling came in and they made a huge contribution in terms of driving Limerick forward.
“In extra-time there was a point in it and then the penalty killed us – it put four between us and again they drove on.”
Meyler hailed the contribution of Daniel Kearney as “incredible” but said the impact of Limerick’s bench was the deciding issue in a game of very small margins.
“We have a lot of young fellas in the subs – Robbie (O’Flynn), Jack (O’Connor) and Tim (O’Mahony) came on. They’re 20-21 years of age, they have a long way to go and please God they’ll win an U21 All-Ireland which would develop them.
“Limerick (last year’s All-Ireland U21 champions) have more senior younger players and they made that difference.”
Yesterday’s defeat was Cork’s first in the Championship this year but the second year in succession that the Rebels have travelled to Croke Park as Munster champions and lost.
“We came up short,” he said.
“I’m not making excuses but it’s a small bit funny that when you draw a Munster final and there’s a replay but if you draw an All-Ireland semi-final at full-time you don’t.
“They are the rules that are there. I think we were extremely competitive for the 70 minutes, we just lost our way in that critical two minutes and Limerick drove on, they have been very competitive and they have matured as well.
“I think we’ve matured but they are a small bit further than us in terms of their senior younger players – the likes of Kyle Hayes, the Morrissey’s (Dan and Tom) and Cian Lynch who had a massive contribution. That’s the gap.”
Meyler admitted that Quaid’s save to deny Harnedy had been a “critical” moment in the game.
“There are small margins that would have possibly won us that game,” he said.
“We need to be here all the time to learn from our mistakes but you don’t get chances – Limerick want to play in an All-Ireland final and they were extremely good today and I take my hat off to them.”