Limerick had wides from Diarmaid Byrnes and Tom Morrissey late on but time was against the Deise with Limerick holding on for a memorable victory.
Limerick kicked off their 2023 Munster Senior Hurling Championship campaign with a 1-18 to 0-19 win over Waterford in an instant classic.
Down to 14-men following Gearoid Hegarty’s 46th minute red card, Limerick held out the Waterford avalanche to seal a vital two points to begin the defence of their title.
Seamus Flanagan’s 23rd minute goal proving decisive in the end with Billy Nolan in inspired form in the Deise goal.
Limerick were lightning quick off the mark, Aaron Gillane firing over from the sideline, although Hawk Eye was a little slow in rewarding the effort. Tom Morrissey doubled their advantage before Stephen Bennett had Waterford’s first.
The Deise’s early puckout strategy worked against them as they afforded Gearoid Hegarty a gift to leave Limerick 0-4 to 0-1 ahead inside seven minutes. Peter Casey added to that shortly after.
Morrissey had a point ruled out by Hawk Eye and then Limerick lost captain Declan Hannon to injury. Mike Casey replaced the Adare man with Dessie Hutchinson getting Waterford’s second.
Diarmaid Byrnes kicked off his 2023 scoring with a long range effort as Casey added his second. Seamus Flanagan struck for his customary over the shoulder effort and then put huge daylight between the teams, dovetailing for a beautiful goal that made it 1-8 to 0-3.
Bennett replied with a pair of frees, their first back-to-back scores but Hegarty stemmed their momentum as Nolan rebounded his goalbound effort over.
But another pair of frees came from the Ballysaggart man to allow Waterford within five. Successive frees from Gillane and Byrnes cancelled those out but a raft of yellows followed, Gearoid Hegarty first going in the book before Barry Nash. Kyle Hayes and Mikey Kiely then received yellows with the Kildimo Pallaskenry man consistently pulled to the ground by his opponent.
With the tension rising, Waterford responded the better and finished the half with three unanswered to leave just four between the sides at the interval.
On the resumption, Waterford began where they left off, hitting over three on the spin to move within one of the defending champions, Bennett firing over a pair of frees either side of a Dessie score. That was six in a row eithe side of the half for Waterford with Gillane stemming the tide over a free.
Gillane then saw his penalty saved by Nolan at full stretch with Hegarty then seeing red, a second yellow for a heavy hit on Neil Montgomery. On first glance, it looked a fair shoulder but the impact saw Liam Gordon issue the red.
But two Waterford wides followed Morrissey next on target for his third. Barry Nash then got in on the act with a fine effort before Gillane knocked over his fifth from the opposite sideline. The Patrickswell moved Limerick six clear with a free after Bennett was inaccurate with an elementary free.
Three quickfire replies from the Deise halved the deficit with five to play. Gillane hit back with his seventh but Conor Gleeson had the response sauntering up the field using the Deise’s man advantage.
Gillane was then denied again by Nolan, with the Waterford netminder twice blocking the Limerick attacker but Byrnes cleaned up for his first from play.
Bennett hit back for the Deise, with Austin Gleeson making it a two-point game as the clock ticked into the fifth minute of seven of injury time. Kyle Hayes needed all of his pace to stop Gleeson from racing in on goal from the next attack as the Waterford attack petered out.
Limerick had wides from Byrnes and Morrissey but time was against the Deise with Limerick holding on.
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane (0-7, 5 frees), Seamus Flanagan (1-1), Diarmaid Byrnes (0-3, 2 frees), Tom Morrissey, Gearoid Hegarty, Peter Casey (0-2), Barry Nash (0-1)
Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett (0-12, 10frees), Dessie Hutchinson (0-3) , Jamie Barron, Austin Gleeson, Patrick Fitzgerald, Conor Gleeson (0-1)
LIMERICK: Nickie Quiad; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O’Donovan, William O’Donoghue, Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.
Subs Used: Mike Casey for Hannon (14), Cathal O’Neill for Flanagan (60), David Reidy for O’Donoghue (68) Conor Boylan for Casey (74)
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