Limerick have guaranteed at least a place in an All-Ireland Quarter Final after an excellent 2-26 to 1-16 win over Waterford in the Gaelic Grounds today. They now go on to face Clare next Sunday with the winner assured a place in the Munster Final. Limerick are currently top of the Munster Championship with a draw against Clare also enough to reach the Munster Final.
Tom Devine knocked over the fist point of the game for Waterford inside the opening minute but that was quickly cancelled out by a fine Cian Lynch run that was topped off with a tidy finish over the bar.
DJ Foran then found enough space to knock out over Waterford’s second. A superb Darragh O’Donovan sideline cut from all of 45 metres sailed straight over the bar at the city end of the ground.
Shane Dowling then announced his return to the side with three quick points two of which were from a placed balls as the Na Piarsaigh man took over free taking duties from Tom Morrissey.
Limerick were being to flex their muscles and when asublime Seamus Flanagan hand pass found the on-rushing Gearoid Hegarty, the St Patrick’s man buried the ball to the back of the neck and Limerick led by 1-5 to 0-2.
A speculative ball was then dropped by goalkeeper Stephen O’Keefe. Graeme Mulcahy pounced on the loose ball for Limerick’s second goal and when Dowling addd another free a minute later Limerick had established a ten point lead inside the opening 15 minutes.
With space at a premium Cian Lynch grabbed possession and a quick snapshot raised another white flag to extend the lead to 11.
Without a score in 15 minutes, Pauric Mahony pointed from a free as Waterford desperately tried to get some sort of foothold in the game.
Limerick’s start was blistering and they were on top in most positions, something that would have no doubt pleased John Kiely.
Stephen Bennett got his first point of the game after but it could have been worse as Nicky Quaid lost the flight of the ball but managed to clear the danger at the cost of a point.
Pauric Mahony knocked over a Waterford free which was cancelled out immediately by an excellent Tom Morrissey point from the left wing.
Some quick thinking from a short free found Kyle Hayes in space and the Kildimo Pallaskenry man fired the ball straight between the posts. Another Tom Morrissey point extended the lead to 11 once more.
A late hit on Flanagan presented Dowling with another free which he duly converted and a second infringement seconds later was punished again by Dowling and saw Conor Gleeson pick up a yellow card in the process.
Shane Dowling then got out in front of Shane McNulty, claimed possession and fired over his shoulder. Another quality score from Limerick to make it 2-13 to 0-5 after 31 minutes. The precision and pace of this Limerick was evident as Waterford struggled to stay in touch.
Jamie Barron latched onto a breaking ball and should have goaled but for a superb hook from Declan Hannon to snuff out the danger.
Pauric Mahony knocked over a point from play and then added a free but Cian Lynch responded with another super point from play to make it 2-14 to 0-7 heading into the break.
Mahony pointed from a free before Stephen O’Keefe stormed out of defence and hit a monster of a drive over the bar. It was an inspirational score but Shane Dowling took the sting out of it with a free.
Cian Lynch then somehow managed to emerge with possession from a scramble before offloading to Kyle Hayes who pointed from the left wing to a rapturous applause.
Waterford needed a spark and when Tommy Ryan ghosted in behind the Limerick defence and finished past Nicky Quaid t reduced the arrears to nine points. Just like the concession of the goal agains Cork, Limerick responded with two Shane Dowling frees to settle things down once again.
Diarmaid Byrnes picked up a yellow card for a pull back which was punished by Pauric Mahony who pointed from the placed ball and cut the gap to 11 points.
A wonderful catch and turn from Seamus Flanagan resulted in another point for Limerick as the clock ticked past the 50 minute mark. Dowling added a free which was quickly followed up by a wonderful Gearoid Hegarty point from the right hand sideline.
Pauric Mahony added two frees but the gap was still a healthy 12 points in favour of John Kiely’s side. Dowling added his 12th point of the game from a free. Kyle Hayes was through on goal but a tired shot was batted away only to find substitute David Dempsey who took two attempts but registered his first point fo the game.
Maurice Shanahan pointed for Waterford but it was goals they needed, several of them and quickly too. Pauric Mahony would add the next score from a close range free but again it wasn’t what Waterford needed.
Dowling knocked over a free when referee should have really allowed the advantage but it meant that Limerick’s lead was still a whopping 13 points.
Mahony pointed from a free for Waterford but in fashion typical of this game, Dowling responded with two. Mikey Kearney then registered his first score of the game from a free but it mattered little as the final whistle blew, the scoreboard read Limerick 2-26, Waterford 1-16.
Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Mike Casey, Richie English; Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Darragh O’Donovan (0-01, 0-01 sl), Cian Lynch (0-03); Tom Morrissey (0-02), Kyle Hayes (0-02), Gearoid Hegarty (1-01); Seamus Flanagan (0-01), Graeme Mulcahy (1-00), Shane Dowling (0-15, 0-13f).
Subs: David Dempsey (0-01) for Hegarty (54), Barry Murphy for Mulcahy (61), Willian O’Donoghue for O’Donovan (63), Barry Nash for Flanagan (68), Paul Browne for Lynch (68).
Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe (0-01); Shane Fives, Conor Gleeson, Noel Connors; Philip Mahony, Austin Gleeson, Michael Walsh; Stephen Roche, Jamie Barron; Kevin Moran, Pauric Mahony (0-10, 0-09f), DJ Foran (0-01); Tom Devine (0-01), Stephen Bennett (0-01), Patrick Curran.
Subs: Shane McNulty for Fives (4), Maurice Shanahan (0-01) for Curran (35), Tommy Ryan (1-00) for Bennett (35), Jake Dillon for Roche (52), Mikey Kearney (0-01) for Barron (65).
Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).