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Limerick survive storming Waterford comeback to take deserved victory

The All-Ireland champions powered to a three-point victory despite losing talisman Cian Lynch to injury early on.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Limerick 0-30

Waterford 2-21

LIMERICK PROVED ONCE again why they’re the number one team in the country, surviving everything that was thrown at them from Waterford to take the two points at the Gaelic Grounds.

John Kiely’s side looked to be coasting to their second win of the Munster SHC round robin campaign until two late Waterford goals ensured a nervy finish.

Trailing by seven points on 62 minutes, Stephen Bennett and Jack Prendergast struck quick goals for the visitors to bring them within a point at the death. 

Pat Ryan and Aaron Gillane (free) struck scores to push Limerick three clear as they dominated the final few minutes of the game. John Kiely’s side hit five wides during that spell but Waterford were unable to force a late goal to steal a share of the spoils.

The reigning All-Ireland and Munster champions weathered plenty of setbacks to take the win. 

They survived a pair of sucker punch goals and won by three despite shooting five shots wides in the closing stages. In truth, Limerick deserved to win by far more.

It was a significant victory for Limerick considering they lost their leader Cian Lynch to injury after 10 minutes. They were already without Kyle Hayes Seamus Flanagan and Peter Casey.

cian-lynch-down-injured Cian Lynch goes down injured. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Hayes is expected to return in time for their next game against Tipperary, with Casey hoping for a comeback at the end of May. 

It could well be the first of three encounters between these teams this summer. Considering the players Limerick were missing, Waterford will be disappointed not to have won this game. But they can have no arguments about this result. 

Aussie Gleeson was late introduction to Waterford’s starting team, lining out at wing-forward on Diarmaid Byrnes.

The Deise started on fire, roaring into an early three point lead. Strangely few Waterford supporters travelled despite their status as league champions and the main challengers to Limerick’s throne. 

Liam Cahill brought in Iarlaith Daly as a late change for his younger brother Carthach. Daly was employed on Aaron Gillane, where he performed well until his enforced withdrawal due to injury in the 29th minute.

By that stage Gillane had three points to his name and just one from play, but he went in at the interval with a seven-point haul. Recognising the absence of Daly, Limerick targetted Gillane with high ball and he started to make hay before the break. 

The Treaty lost Cian Lynch to injury inside 10 minutes, but his replacement Cathal O’Neill clipped a couple of scores after his introduction. 

Byrnes followed up his five points last weekend with a further four scores in the opening period here, including one from play. Limerick led by 0-14 to 0-13 at the interval, with the wind being them in the second period. 

Gearoid Hegarty clipped his second, either side of one from Gillane and Byrnes (free) as Limerick moved four in front shortly after the restart. 

Waterford fought back, however. Ballygunner star Dessie Hutchinson rattled over three successive scores, two of them created by Gleeson. The former Hurler of the Year capitalised on a throw ball by Tom Morrissey as he stroked over a free for his fifth of the day.

darragh-odonovan-and-conor-prunty Darragh O’Donovan and Conor Prunty clash. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

That left the sides on level terms, but Limerick surged ahead once again through Tom Morrissey’s first. Hutchinson converted his fourth from play and then Patrick Curran sent the Deise in front. 

Limeirck rallied with four of the next five scores to move 0-23 to 0-21 head as they started to control the proceedings

Gillane added a brace to put some day light between the teams. When Darragh O’Donovan scored two points in the space of 30 seconds, the hosts looked home and hosed as they led by seven. 

Stephen Bennett gave Waterford life when he drilled a 21m free into the bottom corner, wisely putting it low to Quaid’s right. That left Limerick ahead by 0-28 to 1-21, but moments later Lyons burst through and set-up Jack Prendergast for their second goal inside two minutes. 

Incredibly the Deise were just a point behind with five minutes of normal time still to play. Pat Ryan, introduced for Graeme Mulcahy earlier in the half, sent Limerick two clear with a super score near the sideline. 

Gillane wrapped things up with his 12th score of the day from a free to seal the victory.

Scores for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-13 (0-7f), Diarmaid Byrnes 0-6 (0-5f), Cathal O’Neill 0-3, Gearoid Hegarty, Darragh O’Donovan and Tom Morrissey 0-2 each, David Reidy and Pat Ryan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 1-7 (1-6f, 0-1 65), Dessie Hutchinson and Austin Gleeson (0-3f, 0-1 sideline) 0-5 each, Calum Lyons 0-3, Jack Prendergast 1-0, Patrick Curran 0-1.

Limerick

1. Nicky Quaid (Effin)  

2. Sean Finn (Bruff), 3. Mike Casey (Na Piarsaigh), 4. Barry Nash (South Liberties) 

5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell), 6. Declan Hannon (Adare – captain), 7. Dan Morrissey (Ahane)  

8. Darragh O’Donovan (Doon), 9. William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh) 

10. Gearoid Hegarty (St. Patrick’s), 11. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell), 12. Tom Morrissey (Ahane) 

13. Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell), 14. Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh), 15. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock) 

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Subs 

23. Cathal O’Neill (Crecora Mainister) for Lynch (10)

25. David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca) for O’Donovan (51)

26. Pat Ryan (Doon) for Mulcahy (57)

Waterford

1.Shaun O’Brien (De La Salle)

2. Conor Gleeson (Fourmilewater), 3. Conor Prunty (Abbeyside), 4. Shane McNulty (De La Salle)

5. Jack Fagan (De La Salle), 6. Tadhg de Burca (Clashmore/Kinsalbeg), 17. Iarlaith Daly (Lismore)   

8. Darragh Lyons (Dungarvan), 9. Calum Lyons (Ballyduff Lower)

26. Austin Gleeson (Mount Sion), 11. Jack Prendergast (Lismore), 12. Patrick Curran (Dungarvan)

13. Dessie Hutchinson (Ballygunner), 14. Stephen Bennett (Ballysagget), 15. Michael Kiely (Abbeyside)

Subs

23. Tom Barron (Fourmilewater) for Daly (29)

25. Jamie Barron (Fourmilewater) for Lyons (42)

10. Neil Montgomery (Abbeyside) for Curran (67)

7. Carthach Daly (Lismore) for De Burca (68)

20. Pauric Mahony (Ballygunner) for Kiely (72)

Referee: Sean Stack (DubliN) 

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from TUS Gaelic Grounds

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