Limerick hold on to beat Waterford and start Munster defence with a win

By John Keogh Limerick Leader Sports

LIMERICK began their defence of their Munster and All-Ireland title with a hard-fought 1-18 to 0-19 win over Waterford at Semple Stadium this Sunday afternoon.

Seamus Flanagan got the crucial goal in the first half, while Aaron Gillane scored 0-7. He also had a penalty saved by Waterford keeper Billy Nolan. This win was secured despite Gearoid Hegarty being sent off in the 46th minute.

Limerick started the game in fine form with Gillane and Tom Morrissey firing over points inside four minutes. Waterford replied with a Stephen Bennett free to cut the gap to one.

Hegarty, Gillane and Peter Casey soon had Limerick 0-5 to 0-1 ahead before Dessie Hutchinson got Waterford’s first score from play. Limerick then lost their captain Declan Hannon to injury on 15 minutes to be replaced by Mike Casey.

John Kiely’s side continued the dominate the contest, however, with Diarmaid Byrnes firing over a long range free and Peter Casey stretching their advantage to five points.

Flanagan then got in on the act for Limerick with a superb effort from play and the Feohanagh-Castlemahon club man then pounced for a goal.

He linked up with Gillane before flicking the ball passed Waterford keeper Billy Nolan and sending the ball to the net. That put Limerick into a 1-8 to 0-3 advantage with 22 minutes on the clock.

Waterford stayed in the contest through Bennett placed balls. Two of which immediately followed the goal from Flanagan. Hegarty responded for Limerick but two further Bennett efforts cut he gap to five.

Gillane and Byrnes frees saw Limerick go seven clear in the lead up to half time but two more from Bennett and a Jamie Barron point from play saw the score at 1-11 to 0-10 at the break.

Two further Bennett placed balls and Hutchinson’s second of the game then had Waterford to within a point of Limerick but Gillane’s fourth of the game put Limerick back into a two-point advantage.

Limerick then had the chance to go five clear with a Gillane penalty after the Patrickswell man was fouled but Billy Nolan made a fine save. Limerick were then reduced to 14 men moments later when Hegarty received a second yellow card with 46 minutes played.

The response from Limerick was a Tom Morrissey point and superb Barry Nash and Gillane effort that saw them ahead by 1-15 to 0-13 after 57 minutes.

A Gillane free extended Limerick’s advantage to six on the hour mark but Waterford hit the next three points to leave a goal between the sides heading into the final five minutes.

Waterford put in a huge effort in the closing stages to pull Limerick back but Kiely’s charges held on for a stunning two-point win.

Scorers – Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-7 (5 frees) Seamus Flanagan 1-1, Diarmaid Byrnes 0-3 (2 frees), Tom Morrissey, Gearoid Hegarty and Peter Casey 0-2 each, Barry Nash 0-1

Scorers – Waterford: Stephen Bennett 0-12 (10 frees), Dessie Hutchinson 0-3, Jamie Barron, Patrick Fitzgerald, Conor Gleeson and Austin Gleeson 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; 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: Mike Casey for Hannon (15 mins, inj), Cathal O’Neill for Flanagan (60 mins), David Reidy for O’Donoghue (68 mins), Conor Boylan for P Casey (74 mins),

WATERFORD: Billy Nolan; Conor Gleeson, Conor Prunty, Mark Fitzgerald; Calum Lyons, Tadhg de Burca, Jack Fagan; Darragh Lyons, Jamie Barron; Neil Montgomery, Dessie Hutchinson, Michael Kiely; Colin Dunford, Stephen Bennett, Jack Prendergast.

SUBS: Tom Barron for de Burca (22 mins, inj), Austin Gleeson for Dunford (51 mins), Patrick Fitzgerald for Prendergast (60 mins), Padraig Fitzgerald for Montgomery (60 mins).

REFEREE: Liam Gordon (Galway)