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Limerick's trophy grabbing and scoring surges, Waterford's individual class and future challenge

A four-point win for Limerick in the Munster final yesterday.

Diarmaid Byrnes celebrates after Limerick's victory.
Diarmaid Byrnes celebrates after Limerick's victory.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

1. Limerick’s trophy cabinet gets another addition

After all the doubt over the inter-county resumption, Limerick were out of the blocks for the first hurling championship game on 25 October. Once given the chance to play again in 2020, they have seized it in decisive fashion. It’s been a highly-productive three-week spell with wins over Clare, Tipperary and Waterford along with grabbing league and Musnter title.

It brings to five the number of of big time senior hurling trophies that Limerick have picked up over the last 27 months. The landmark All-Ireland win kickstarted that run of success and it is a replication of that feat which they still crave. They have certainly built up momentum as they enter that stage of the series now. 

2. Munster finishes with a gripping contest at last

How has the 2020 winter version of the Munster hurling championship been for you? The setting late in the year has certainly required an adjustment and the fare served up has not been to everyone’s liking with the volume of scores churned out. Shootouts have been a dominant feature and having the identity of the winners assured before the final whistle has done little to create a championship sense.

But yesterday’s final felt like the first of the four games which held the interest until the finish, accompanied by some genuine tension heading down the stretch. Much of that was down to the ferocity of Waterford’s challenge in giving the All-Ireland market leaders their toughest test to date this season. Limerick survived but only after a rip-roaring battle that the province needed.

3. Stars shine on Waterford side

Between retirements, injuries and omissions, those marked absent in the Waterford camp have drawn plenty attention. But in their efforts as underdogs to land Munster silverware, they had a couple of towering individual performers. Pauric Mahony’s season was halted by a knee injury yet Stephen Bennett has stepped up.

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The Ballysaggart man struck 0-12 against Cork and matched that tally yesterday. His free-taking in the first half was superb, he missed one but landed a succession of scores when Limerick needed with his 32nd minute shot from over 100 yards standing out. There were also sparkling moments from play, a super individual effort in the 51st minute nudged Waterford ahead for the only time in the game.

Further back Tadhg De Búrca was a defensive monument that they could construct their team around. His strong defensive work was one thing, like the shadowing, block down and turn over of Kyle Hayes early in the second half, but he also contributed in an offensive sense. The catch that was the launchpad for the move that saw Austin Gleeson point in the 10th minute, the run and foul drawn for a free that Bennett snapped over after half-time.

tadhg-de-burca-and-kyle-hayes Tadhg De Búrca in opposition to Kyle Hayes. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

4. Scoring surges are key for Limerick

In the most searching examination they have encountered in the Munster championship to date this year, Limerick supplied the right answers at the most critical moments. Waterford draw level by the first-half water break with four of the five preceding points. Then Limerick outscore them 0-7 to 0-4 before half-time.

Again Waterford are level at 0-18 by the second-half water break with a series of points illustrating the powerful moment they possessed. And again Limerick come good with a charge to win that final quarter by 0-7 to 0-3. Substitutes helped – Seamus Flanagan and Adrian Breen both pointing – while those breathers clearly helped in availing of the chance to reset and go again.

5. Heading to the All-Ireland series with optimism

Provincial matters wrapped up, All-Ireland engagements loomed large for those departing Thurles yesterday. Limerick have a fortnight’s break before the last four arrives, Waterford look to today’s qualifier draw before a return to combat next weekend.

They both deserved to leave Semple Stadium with a pep in their step. Limerick are back at the All-Ireland semi-final stage, a chance to avenge the disappointment of 2019 and again with the winning feeling generated as provincial champions. Waterford look revitalized under Liam Cahill’s guidance and can be energised by the nature of this specific display as they head to the quarter-finals. Adding an extra scoring touch up front will be a help though.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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