Daire Newcombe of Dublin, right, in action with Roscommon’s Ben O’Carroll in Sunday's drawn game at Croke Park. [Inpho/Ben Brady]

Limerick dig deep vs. Cork

Limerick 3-25; Cork 1-30

Limerick had to go to the well again and trawl deeply before finding enough uisce to douse the Rebels’ inferno at the Gaelic Grounds on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon.

They were forced to play second fiddle for long stretches of the first half and only for their ability to conjure up goals, they would have been in deep trouble by half-time. Instead they were level at 2-12 to 0-18 and another quick goal on the changeover gave them the impetus to meet hell’s fire with their own… and it proved just about enough to get them past Cork and into the Munster final against Clare on Sunday week.

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So the quest for five Munsters in a row and four Liam MacCarthy’s on the trot is still on - but suddenly John Kiely’s team are playing with feet of clay and opponents no longer fear they will be blown away as happened in most games over the past four seasons.

Yes, Limerick are definitely beatable and with Sean Finn gone for the season, Cian Lynch back but still not anywhere near the hurler of the year he has been on two occasions; ditto Gearoid Hegarty, not to mention that  the general group now hits wides and loses possessions all over the pitch where once the sliotar always stuck, don’t bet your house on the four-timer being completed.

Clare have already beaten them this season and will now look to thrust their sword in further when they meet head on in Thurles in the provincial decider.

What Sunday’s results mean was that Cork went out of the championship after looking a vastly improved team under Pat Ryan and Tipperary are the third team to go into the All Ireland series, despite suffering a shock reversal from Davy Fitzgerald’s  Waterford who showed pride and  spirit to beat Liam Cahill’s side by 1-24 to 0-21.

When Kiely sits down to review this pulsating game this week, he will thank his lucky stars that Cathal O’Neill and Seamus Flanagan in the first half and Diarmuid Byrnes in the second, were able to raise green flags. Ultimately this was the difference between the teams, for while Patrick Horgan’s ground shot just about found the net for Cork, truth is there was no goal threat for the men in red. Limerick on another day could have raised six green flags as the woodwork and glaring misses were part of an imperfect performance.

That Byrnes penalty eight minutes after the changeover was boosted by a barrage of six points in a row which would normally have flattened Cork, but to their credit they fought back to be just the minimum behind at the sound of the long whistle.

What a treat those  40,847 fans  at sun-drenched Ennis Road witnessed as two teams gave it their all over the 70 minutes plus of this wonderful tie.

The hope is that though now 35, we haven’t seen the last of Cork’s talisman Horgan, who was unremarkable as he drove his side on. Indeed without him, the losers would have been resigned to failure long, long before the end of the game.

It was his goal which threw Ryan’s team a life-line and his further two points clawed them back into the fray along with Dara Fitzgibbon’s point. However long after the result is forgotten, this game will be remembered for being of the truly great hurling games ever played.

Yes indeed, hurling is the game that keeps on giving..

Leinster wrap-up

In Leinster hurling, Westmeath suffered the ignominy of relegation to the Joe McDonagh Cup following their 4-24 to  1-19 or 14 point hammering by Antrim… the rout coming a week after the Lake County’s brilliant 17-point recovery to beat Wexford in the previous round.

Despite losing to Wexford on Sunday by 4-23 to 5-18, Kilkenny have qualified for the Leinster SH final against Galway, who came back from a poor start to draw with Dublin by 1-25 to 2-22.

Derry 0-14; Monaghan 0-14

This All Ireland Series Group 4 clash went all the way down to the wire as first Derry wrestled back a deficit to lead going down the strait before veteran Karl O’Connell kicked a huge point to share the spoils at Celtic Park on Saturday evening.

This was a game for the tactician rather than the purist as both teams put a premium on closing down space and defending as a first priority; only when an opponent made a mistake or there was a sudden turnover did we get players running at pace and threatening the goals at either end.

Less than two weeks after retaining their Ulster crown, Derry were very much playing catch up for most of the game until they cut loose near the end and a Shane McGuigan free put them ahead. It looked like they had timed their run to the finishing post perfectly but while he was Derry’s man of the match, it was the Farney men’s best player O’Connell who came to his team’s rescue by shooting the leveller from distance.

Ciaran Meenagh's side can thank McGuigan, who finished with 0-9 to his credit in a relatively low-scoring match, for without him the forward line found it hard to function to any great capacity.

Monaghan never panicked though and despite the clock reading the full 75 minutes worked O'Connell and he showed nerves of steel to split the posts and ensure both sides would remain unbeaten.

Monaghan have moved on and began this game with either of the Hughes brothers, Darren or Ciaran lining out. Neither did the peerless Conor McManus see action until the very end while Jack McCarron too had a very short cameo role, having come on in the 74th minute.

Manager  Vinny Corey will be happy with a point from this tough journey north and will see that there are options other than the old hands as he contemplates emerging from this tough group. 

Armagh 1-13; Westmeath 1-12

Westmeath played out of their skins for 68 minutes yet were undone by a late goal by super sub-Conor Turbitt bagged the all-important goal two minutes from the end as Kieran McGeeney’s Orchard boys snatched victory from the mouth of defeat at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday.

A full-house of almost 11,000 supporters were on their feet to acclaim that clinching score but for the away  fans, it was a dagger into their heart after their team had played above and beyond what was expected of them.

 Brilliantly led by John Heslin with half a dozen points, the losers deserved to get something out of this game but once more top level football showed no mercy as the winner once more took it all at the death.

Dublin 1-11; Roscommon 0-14

Whatever magic Davy Burke is selling to his Roscommon players, it certainly is  working.

This game would normally have been seen as a 10-point win for Dublin but the new-look Rossies showed their determination to qualify out of this group by  matching Dublin stride for stride.

Indeed even when the Dubs had nudged ahead with time almost up, they had enough arsenal left in their gun thanks to a late Donie Smith free to get a share of the spoils.

Ironically all four teams in this group, Sligo, Kildare, Dublin and Roscommon are now all tied on one point each after the first round so each will feel they have a great chance to progress from this group.

Indeed, the Connacht side may have felt they would top the league after the first series when they were four points to the good at the half-time whistle.

As expected Dublin improved on the changeover and in fact led by two points with only two minutes left on the clock.

However successful frees from Kerry-born Conor Cox and Smith earned parity while both Cox and Dean Rock for Dublin had frees to win the game but neither landed remotely near where they could register a score.

GAA Results

Joe McDonagh Cup Final

Carlow 2-29; Offaly 1-31

Leinster Round Robin SH Championship

Wexford 4-23; Kilkenny 5-18

Galway  1-25; Dublin 2-22

Antrim 4-24; Westmeath* 1-19

*Westmeath relegated

Munster Round Robin SH Championship

Limerick 3-25 ; Cork 1-30

Waterford 1-24; Tipperary 0-21

All Ireland Championship SF

Dublin 1-11 ; Roscommon 0-14

Cork 1-19; Louth 1-17

Armagh 1-13; Westmeath 1-12

Derry 0-14; Monaghan 0-14