Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship

Waterford 0-19 1-18 Limerick

Round 1
FBD Semple Stadium, Thurles
Liam Gordon
Munster SHC: Limerick survive Waterford test
William O'Donoghue, Limerick, and Tom Barron, Waterford, in Munster SHC action at FBD Semple Stadium. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Munster SHC: Limerick survive Waterford test

Munster Senior Hurling Championship

Limerick 1-18 Waterford 0-19

By Noel Dundon at FBD Semple Stadium

All-Ireland champions Limerick survived a real test of their credentials at FBD Semple Stadium when, though down to fourteen men for the last 20 minutes of this Munster championship first round game following the dismissal of Gearoid Hegarty, they rallied to stave off a rampant Waterford.

A rip-roaring contest, Waterford, after a very poor start to the game tore into Limerick once they found their rhythm, but rued some very poor shooting in the final analysis.

Limerick had well asserted their authority on this game by the time Seamus Flanagan bagged their first goal in the 21st minute. By that stage, they led by 0-8 to 0-3 with scores coming from Aaron Gillane (2), Tom Morrissey, Flanagan, Peter Casey (2) and Diarmuid Byrnes, while Stephen Bennett (2) and Dessie Hutchinson had the Waterford scores.

Both centre backs had departed the scene with Limerick captain Declan Hannon lasting just 15 minutes, while Tadgh de Burca for Waterford was carried off in the 22nd minute – both were big losses and the Deise could hardly have afforded to be without one of their main men.

Limerick could have had a second goal in the 26th minute when Seamus Flanagan picked out Gearoid Hegarty with a Crossfield ball, but the former Hurler of the Year’s effort was saved over brilliantly by Waterford keeper Billy Nolan to keep the champions at bay.

The save might well have inspired the Deise men as seven of the next ten points were scores by Davy Ftzgerald’s men – six of them from placed balls off the stick of Stephen Bennett, with Jamie Barron getting the other, while Gearoid Hegarty, Aaron Gillane and a Diarmuid Byrnes free accounted for the Limerick scores to give them a 1-11 to 0-10 interval lead.

Considering that Limerick had done most of the hurling in that first half, which was proving to be a spikey affair with a number of yellow cards issued, including to a Limerick mentor, Waterford were probably fortunate to have been just four in arrears. They had not hurled as they would have wished and yet they were right there in the mix.

And, when they flashed over three points straight after the interval to leave just one in it thoughts of an upset suddenly entered the mindset. To add to the drama an Aaron Gillane penalty effort was saved brilliantly by Waterford keeper Billy Nolan in the eighth minute, and then moments later Gearoid Hegarty got his matching orders having picked up a yellow card early on.

So, Limerick were now down a man and Waterford were coming strong at them – a very serious challenged faced them and though their advantage now stood at two points, Waterford introduced Austin Gleeson to add further drive to their challenge.

They met that challenge head on and four points from Tom Morrissey, Barry Nash and Aaron Gillane (2) shoved them six clear before Waterford managed three without reply from Stephen Bennett, sub Austin Gleeson and Dessie Hutchinson.

It looked as though Waterford would need a goal but Limerick did not seem in any mood to allow Nickie Quaid’s net to be breached and they could have goaled themselves at the other end, but Aaron Gillane was twice swallowed up as he attempted to pull the trigger.

Waterford were coming at Limerick with everything they had, but the champions were just able to hold them off with points from Gillane and Byrnes keeping the challengers at arms length – Conor Gleeson, Stephen Bennett and Gleeson all getting scores as the game slipped into the seven minutes of injury time.

The Limerick lads held on for the win, but they knew they had been in a game by the time the final whistle sounded.

Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-7 (5fs), Seamus Flanagan 1-1, Diarmuid Byrnes 0-3 (0-2 frees), Peter Casey and Tom Morrissey 0-2 each, Barry Nash, Gearoid Hegarty, 0-1.

Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 0-13 (10fs), Austin Gleeson, Dessie Hutchinson 0-2 each, Jamie Barron, Conor Gleeson 0-1 each

Limerick: Nickie Quaid, Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash, Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes, Darragh O’Donovan, William O’Donoghue, Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey, Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.

Subs: Mike Casey for Declan Hannon; Cathal O’Neill for Seamus Flanagan; David Reidy for William O’Dononghue; Conor Boylan for Peter Casey.

Waterford: Billy Nolan, Conor Gleeson, Conor Prunty, Mark Fitzgerald, Calum Lyons, Tadhg de Burca, Jack Fagan, Darragh Lyons, Jamie Barron, Neil Montgomery, Dessie Hutchinson, Michael Kiely, Colin Dunford, Stephen Bennett, Jack Prendergast.

Subs: Tom Barron for Tadhg de Burca; Austin Gleeson for Colin Dunford; Patrick Fitzgerald for Jack Prendergast; Padraic Fitzgerald for Neil Montgomery.

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway).