Limerick U20 footballers ease past Waterford to claim Munster ‘B’ title:

By John Redington Limerick Leader Sport

LIMERICK captured the Munster U-20 ‘B’ football title with a 2-10 to 1-5 double-score victory over Waterford under the Mallow floodlights on Wednesday night.

A lacklustre first half display in which Limerick trailed by five coming up to the break, and which could have been more had Waterford not kicked eight wides up to then, was transformed by a major increase in focus, intensity and pace on the restart which saw the Shannonsiders score 2-6 without reply before the final exchange of scores.

The result leaves Limerick with an All-Ireland semi-final date against Leinster opposition yet to be confirmed and Shane Kelly’s charges will be looking to repeat the flair shown at times through their mainstream and secondary provincial campaigns where they occasionally displayed the talents shown by this age group at minor level.

Perhaps winning the John Kerins Cup, dedicated to the memory of the former Cork All-Ireland winning goalkeeper, will get the monkey of expectation off the Limerick players’ backs and give them the freedom to change the run of play in an instant as happened with the brace of goals from Aaron Neville just past the three-quarter mark which turned a contest decisively in their favour.

Despite starting against the breeze, Limerick enjoyed the majority of early possession as they took the lead when Darragh Murray collected possession from a handpass to split the posts. The Shannonsiders then increased their tally off a Ronan Quirke point.

However, Waterford were coming into the game by this stage, but they had already struck a few wides by the time Sam Pender got them off the mark with a point as his screamer on the turn shaved paint on the top side of the crossbar.

It was enough to get the Déise moving and they were greatly helped when Pender’s speculative shot ended up in the net.

Rory Fennell followed up immediately to put two points between the sides. Although they then missed a string of chances, Waterford got moving again through Pender’s free.
Top Stories

Limerick responded and Monaleen’s Darragh Murphy powered through the challenges to shoot inches over the bar before Limerick finally found an answer on the cusp of half-time through Quirke’s free which narrowed their deficit to 1-4 to 0-3.

A much more energised team in green emerged from the dressing-room for the second half as Quirke’s free shaved off another point within a minute and, while the final touch wasn’t always on hand, their constant pressure saw points courtesy of a long range Conal Ó Duinn effort, a Diarmuid Hynes free and a looping Quirke shot which drew the sides level by the 40th minute.

The pace dropped coming up to the three-quarter mark, giving the Suirsiders a chance to respond, but their earlier fluency had deserted their attack as a sally from deep ended with the influential Murray putting Limerick ahead.

Waterford again pressed forward but, with the defence left exposed and a man down following Fennell’s black card, Neville collected a clearance, soloed into space up the middle and, despite his initial one-on-one with Conor Moore ending with the Waterford goalie blocking his shot, the Newcastlewest player collected the rebound to tap into the empty net.

Not content with leaving it at that, Quirke then battled in through the challenges along the goal line and laid off to Neville to slot home his second goal of the contest.

With three regulation minutes to go, Mikey O’Brien’s pointed free finally broke Waterford’s second-half duck, but Limerick had the final say when Josh McCarthy converted an injury time ’45 to seal their eight point success.

SCORERS: LIMERICK: Aaron Neville 2-0, Ronan Quirke 0-4 (2 frees), Darragh Murray 0-3, Conal Ó Duinn, Diarmuid Hynes (free), Josh McCarthy (free) 0-1 each; WATERFORD: Sam Pender 1-2 (0-1 free), Rory Fennell, Darragh Murphy, Mikey O’Brien (free) 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: Craig McInness (Cappagh); Craig O’Connell (Ahane), Jason Hassett (Mungret-Saint Paul’s), Paddy Downey (Oola); John Whelan (Newcastlewest), Jack Somers (Mungret-Saint Paul’s), Michael Kilbridge (Father Caseys); Josh McCarthy (Saint Patrick’s), Darragh Murray (Monaleen); Senan O’Brien (Saint Senan’s), Aaron Neville (Newcastlewest), Michael Long (Saint Patrick’s); Ronan Quirke (Father Caseys), Michael Fahy (Dromcollogher-Broadford), Conal Ó Duinn (Monaleen). SUBS: Jamie Behan (Ballybrown) for Jack Somers (half-time), Diarmuid Hynes (Mungret-Saint Paul’s), for Shane Cross (37 minutes), Oisín Woulfe (Father Caseys) for Michael Fahy (50 minutes), Bobby Smith (Ballybrown) for Senan O’Brien (50 minutes), Pádraig Murphy (Ballysteen) for Craig O’Connell (54 minutes).

WATERFORD: Conor Moore (Saint Declan’s, Ardmore); Ronan O’Connell (Portlaw), Sean Byrne (Gaultier), Daniel Behan (Kilrossanty); Callum Sloan (Gaultier), Mikey O’Brien (Stradbally), Tommy Martin (Gaultier); Michael O’Sullivan (The Nire), David Butler (Colligan); Mark Power (Colligan), Rory Fennell (Stradbally), Tom Gardner (Brickey Rangers); Seán O’Rourke (Ballyduff Lower), Sam Pender (Roanmore), Liam Ó Síothchain (An Rinn). SUBS: Tommy Fennell (Stradbally) for Mark Power (44 minutes), Shane Power (Kilrossanty) for Daniel Behan (47 minutes), Oisín Brazil (Ballinacourty) for Darragh Murphy (50 minutes), Aidan Mansfield (Ballinameely) for Darragh Murphy (51 minutes), Fionn Dwyer (Ballinacourty) for Sam Pender (60 minutes).

REFEREE: James Regan (Cork).