Sunday 31 March 2019
Allianz Hurling League Final
LIMERICK 1-24 WATERFORD 0-19
By Cian O’Connell at Croke Park
Limerick have acquired a valuable habit of winning important games under John Kiely’s shrewd stewardship.
This Allianz League success at GAA headquarters illustrated why Limerick will enter an eagerly anticipated summer as the most respected and in form team in the land.
Buoyed up by their daring and delightful 2018 adventure Limerick have tried to use the spring wisely on their much touted return to Division 1A action.
The first half supplied plenty of evidence of Limerick’s ability to marry graft with craft, especially in attack where turnovers were forced and scores taken.
From 23 attempts before the break Limerick registered 1-12 compared to Waterford’s conversion rate of 0-10 from 17 efforts.
Interesting duels were being played out throughout the field with the Noel Connors versus Aaron Gillane match-up particularly fascinating.
Gillane had the skill and strength to execute a delicious flick resulting in a 27th minute goal just as Waterford were beginning to cause Limerick serious problems.
It had all started so well for Limerick, who thundered into a 0-8 to 0-2 advantage and Waterford were fortunate not to be further behind because Stephen O’Keeffe reacted smartly to make a fine save from Gillane in the seventh minute.
Still Paraic Fanning’s charges did summon a defiant burst which yielded six of the next seven points reducing the deficit to the minimum.
Inevitably Stephen Bennett was prominent drilling scores from play and frees, but Gillane’s goal carried importance.
Tom Morrissey’s delivery located Gillane inside and the prolific Patrickswell attacker was sufficiently skillful to steer the sliotar beyond O’Keeffe.
Michael Walsh and Pauric Mahony replied for Waterford, but Limerick finished the opening period strongly as Gillane, Tom Morrissey, and Graeme Mulcahy all rifled points to steer them five clear.
When the action recommenced Waterford required an injection of momentum and confidence, but they were repeatedly frustrated.
Only four points were struck from 10 attempts in the third quarter, while at the opposite end Limerick nailed six out of eight opportunities.
That is precisely the time that Limerick starting to move into the distance with Declan Hannon’s decorative 44th minute point guiding the standard bearers 1-16 to 0-11 ahead.
There was little wrong with Waterford’s attitude or application showcased by another three point rally which included an Austin Gleeson sideline cut.
Limerick, though, were unperturbed as Gillane drilled two points from play ensuring Waterford remained in considerable distress.
From then until the end all that needed to be determined was the margin of Limerick’s victory with substitutes Seamus Flanagan and Shane Dowling contributing classy points. It was that type of satisfying afternoon for Limerick at the Jones Road venue.
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 1-9 (4fs), Peter Casey and Gearoid Hegarty 0-3 each, Cian Lynch and Shane Dowling (1f) 0-2 each,, Seamus Flanagan, Declan Hannon, Tom Morrissey, Graeme Mulcahy, and Darragh O’Donovan (sideline) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 0-9 (6fs), Pauric Mahony 0-5 (4fs), Austin Gleeson 0-2 (1 sideline), Kevin Moran, Philip Mahony, and Michael Walsh 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Tom Condon, Sean Finn, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Cian Lynch, Darragh O’Donovan; Gearoid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Peter Casey, Graeme Mulcahy.
Subs: Mike Casey for Condon (HT), Seamus Flanagan for Mulcahy (56), Barry Murphy for Gillane (64), Shane Dowling for T Morrissey (64), Paddy O’Loughlin for Hannon (69).
WATERFORD: Stephen O’Keeffe; Shane McNulty, Calum Lyons, Noel Connors; Philip Mahony, Tadhg de Burca, Kevin Moran; Jamie Barron, Michael Walsh; Austin Gleeson, Mikey Kearney, Pauric Mahony; Peter Hogan, Stephen Bennett, Shane Bennett.
Subs: Jack Prendergast for Walsh (HT), Tommy Ryan for Shane Bennett (47), Conor Prunty for Lyons (48), Patrick Curran for Hogan (56), Stephen Roche for Kearney (60).
REFEREE: James Owens (Wexford).