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Cork end Limerick's five-in-a-row bid with Croke victory

Cork are through to the All-Ireland hurling final as they displayed incredible guts and craft to edge Limerick 1-28 to 0-29 in a breathtaking semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday.

The Shannonsiders were bidding for an unprecedented hurling five-in-a-row this year and will look back on this defeat with some regrets.

Limerick out-scored Cork 0-10 to 0-3 from the 20th minute and took a 0-16 to 1-11 lead into the break.

But the Rebels produced a remarkable second-half display to set up a repeat of the 2013 final against Clare.

It was hard to envisage the drama of the previous day's last four clash when Clare defeated Kilkenny could be matched, but it was and then some as a sold-out stadium were treated to a game that will live long in the memory.

Cork had heroes throughout the field, led by Brian Hayes whose 18th-minute goal would prove the difference. He finished with 1-4 but this was far from a one-man performance as the Rebels rose to the mammoth challenge in front of them and ended Limerick's rein as champions.

Cork pair Ethan Twomey and Eoin Downey celebrate at the final whistle
Cork pair Ethan Twomey and Eoin Downey celebrate at the final whistle [Getty Images]

Cork needed to make a good start and they got it as after Aaron Gillane got the first of his five first-half points from a free.

They were one up when they found the Limerick net on 18 minutes as Shane Barrett put Hayes in on the left to bury past Nickie Quaid. Hayes thought he had another soon after but Alan Connolly had over-carried in the build-up.

At the other end, Gillane slipped when through but even though five behind, there was no panic from Limerick as they began to take over, their half-back line stepping up and epitomised by Diarmaid Byrnes, who soared to catch from defence and thumped over.

They had another goal chance when Patrick Collins made a point-blank save from Gillane, but the Shannonsiders were into a groove and held a two-point advantage at half-time.

Cork came out with renewed vigour after the break as Darragh Fitzgibbon scored early before spiritual leader Patrick Horgan got on the board as they scored nine of the 12 points in a 10-minute spell after the break.

But they would have Collins to thank again as he saved brilliantly from Gearoid Hegarty with Gillane - top-scorer on the day with 0-10 - unable to finish the rebound as play transferred and Declan Dalton hammered over to raise the roof from those in red.

Cork’s Declan Dalton challenges Mike Casey in Sunday's semi-final
Cork’s Declan Dalton challenges Mike Casey in Sunday's semi-final [Inpho]

It seemed like a big moment and it was, but even when trailing by seven heading into the final quarter, Limerick didn't panic and set about chipping at the lead.

Substitutes Shane O'Brien and Adam English hit two points apiece, Gillane kept ticking and on 69 minutes Hegarty finally got on the board to leave two between them.

But chances to narrow further came and went in a frantic final few minutes as Horgan was denied a goal that would have sealed it by Nickie Quaid when pouncing on a rebound, while Limerick had one final raid for a wining goal.

It wasn't to be as Cork held out, sending their supporters into dreamland who will be back in two weeks for a decider against Clare.