Limerick U20 footballers secure vital win over Waterford U20s in Munster championship:

By John Redington Limerick Leader Sport

LIMERICK U20 footballers secured a precious 2-7 to 2-6 victory over Waterford in their Munster U20 football championship round robin fixture played at Ballyagran on Saturday afternoon.

In spite of the closeness of the final score, the result leaves Limerick in pole position to take one of the two qualifying places on offer as they head into next Saturday’s showdown with Clare at the same venue.

A draw then would be enough to see the Shannonsiders through to the next phase of the championship.

And Limerick will certainly be looking for a repeat of their first-half performance rather than their second half showing as a clinical early display, backed up by intelligent support play, left them leading by eight points coming up to the break despite playing into a gale.

But having done all the hard work, the concentration wandered on the turnover. However, Limerick were still well ahead with three regulation minutes to go after Waterford had squandered a penalty and a few other chances to draw closer.

However, everything changed in a moment as a black card reduced Limerick to fourteen, the Déise made no mistake with their second penalty and, suddenly realising it was game on, threw the kitchen sink at an strong revival that just ran out of time after the visitors had brought the deficit back to a point.

Despite starting into the swirling wind, Limerick imposed themselves straight from the throw-in as Ronan Quirke opened the scoring. However, the home side then missed a few chances to add to their lead as Waterford breaks allowed Rory Fennell and Sam Pender’s pointed free put them in front.

However, after Limerick began their to exert their stranglehold in the middle and clean up most of the kickouts, Emmet Rigter’s equaliser on the run was followed by Darragh Murray passing across the face of the goals to fist to the net.

With the home team tightening their grip, their opponents were pressed backed into their own half as Murray and Quirke pointed. The gap moved out to eight points when Aaron Neville powered up from midfield and offloaded to Diarmuid Hynes whose screamer from 15-metres flashed past the helpless Conor Moore and into the net.

With the interval looming, the Decies finally got some reward from the elements as Fennell capitalised on a turnover to strike and followed up with a second point to narrow Limerick’s lead to 2-4 to 0-4.

Waterford kept the momentum up after the break as a flashing attack from the throw-in led to Pender being hauled down on the square only for him then to crash his spot-kick back off the upright.

Limerick broke for a Conal Ó Duinn point and Murray picked off another point in reply to Pender’s free to leave the hosts leading by seven points at the three-quarter mark.

The intensity then dropped as the substitutes piled on and play ambled around the middle third, giving the Suirsiders the chance to recover. A sustained attack led to Jason Hassett’s black card for fouling John Bruton and Mikey O’Brien made no mistake with this penalty.

Down a man, Limerick had a Rigter point off a break, but their shape was crumbling as Michael O’Sullivan’s fisted goal off a dropping ’45’ was pulled back for having first drifted wide. However, the next sortie ended with Bruton skimming over the crossbar after a barrage of shots ricocheted off defenders’ legs.

One final frantic heave left the ball bobbing again around the small square before O’Sullivan volleyed to the net but, just as Waterford were reassembling to attack the kickout, referee Chris Maguire decided the five added minutes had expired.

SCORERS: LIMERICK: Senan O’Brien, Darragh Hynes 1-0 each; Ronan Quirke Emmet Rigter, Darragh Murray 0-2 each, Conal Ó Duinn 0-1; WATERFORD: Rory Fennell 0-3, Mikey O’Brien (penalty), Michael O’Sullivan 1-0 each; Sam Pender 0-2 (2 frees), John Bruton 0-1.

LIMERICK: Craig McInness (Cappagh); Craig O’Connell (Ahane), Jason Hassett (Mungret-Saint Paul’s), Paddy Downey (Oola); John Whelan (Newcatlewest), Aaron Neville (Newcastlewest), Michael Kilbridge (Father Caseys); Emmett Rigter (Newcastlewest), Darragh Murray (Monaleen); Senan O’Brien (Saint Senan’s), Conal Ó Duinn (Monaleen), Bobby Smith (Ballybrown); Diarmuid Hynes (Mungret-Saint Paul’s), Ronan Quirke (Father Caseys), Shane Cross (Saint Patrick’s). SUBS: Robert Galligan (Claughaun) for Ronan Quirke (injured, 39 minutes), Marc Nolan (Father Caseys) for Bobby Smith (45 minutes), Pádraig Murphy for Diarmuid Hynes (49 minutes), Cathal O’Mahony (Galbally) for Craig O’Connell (55 minutes), Darragh Clifford (Monaleen) for John Whelan (55 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); Tommy Fennell (Stradbally), Rory Fennell (Stradbally), Tom Gardner (Brickey Rangers); Seán O’Rourke (Ballyduff Lower), Sam Pender (Roanmore), Kyle Moloney (Clashmore-Kinsalebeg). SUBS: Mark Power (Colligan) for Tom Gardner (half-time), John Bruton (Stradbally) for Kyle Moloney (half-time), Darragh Murphy (Fenor) for Tommy Fennell (43 minutes), Shane Power (Gaultier) for Daniel Behan (47 minutes), Aidan Mansfield (Ballinameela) for Rory Fennell (53 minutes).

REFEREE: Chris Maguire (Clare).