All Ireland SHC final: Terrific Limerick triumph
All Ireland SHC Final
LIMERICK 0-30 WATERFORD 0-19
By Cian O’Connell at Croke Park
A second All Ireland title in three years confirmed Limerick’s class at GAA headquarters.
Waterford, spirited until the bitter end, just couldn’t contain Limerick’s cocktail of power and poise as John Kiely’s outfit prevailed.
There was so much to admire in the manner Limerick recaptured the Liam MacCarthy Cup decorating a flawless campaign with a convincing win.
Nickie Quaid’s immaculate goalkeeping, Sean Finn’s defiance, Kyle Hayes’ speed, Will O’Donoghue’s honesty, Gearoid Hegarty and Tom Morrissey’s industry either side of Cian Lynch’s skill, and Aaron Gillane’s potency were critical factors in this encounter.
Though defeated, Waterford can reflect on a hugely encouraging stint under Liam Cahill, but Limerick had sufficient expertise to negotiate this hurdle.
It was a physical and furious opening period with Limerick eventually departing at the interval armed with a 0-14 to 0-11 advantage.
Waterford, under duress at various stages, were hanging in there and though they trailed by six as the break approached two Stephen Bennett frees and an Austin Gleeson effort narrowed the gap.
Ultimately that little Waterford burst ensured the issue was delicately poised when the action recommenced, but Limerick had shown some clear signs of their abundant ability.
Inevitably the prolific Patrickswell attacker Aaron Gillane was central, contributing handsomely with three sweet points from play.
Gillane certainly took watching, while Limerick’s well documented wing forwards Gearoid Hegarty and Tom Morrissey struck five between them before the turnaround.
Indeed another Limerick strength, Kyle Hayes’ running from deep was evident in the 13th minute, but Waterford survived a serious scare.
Stephen O’Keeffe made a splendid double save to thwart Hayes and Cian Lynch, but at the opposite end Waterford were crafting goal opportunities too.
Waterford did suffer a blow in the 21st minute when Tadhg de Burca was forced to limp out of the contest, but the emerging Iarlaith Daly thundered into the match following his introduction.
Jack Fagan had previously flashed a second minute attempt wide, while as the interval approached Stephen Bennett was denied by Nickie Quaid.
Ultimately, though, Limerick were satisfied to retreat protecting a lead, but a fiery Waterford remained very much in the reckoning.
After the restart Limerick regained the initiative mining 10 third quarter points compared to Waterford’s five.
During that dynamic Limerick spell of supremacy Hegarty struck four from play to underline the value and consistency of his 2020 contribution.
Eight clear at the water break, Limerick had assumed a commanding position with Quaid subsequently making sharp reflex saves from Bennett, Calum Lyons, and Dessie Hutchinson.
Some of those were ambitious attempts, but Waterford were completely aware that the Limerick net needed to be rattled if a daring comeback mission was to be accomplished.
Down the field Hegarty remained utterly relevant, while substitute Pat Ryan, Diarmaid Byrnes, and the dynamic Tom Morrissey also landed scores.
The green and white flag is perched on the hurling summit again.
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-10 (6fs), Gearoid Hegarty 0-7, Tom Morrissey 0-5, Seamus Flanagan 0-3, Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes, Pat Ryan, and Will O’Donoghue 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 0-10 (9fs), Austin Gleeson 0-5 (1f, 1 sideline), Calum Lyons, Kevin Moran, Kieran Bennett, and Dessie Hutchinson 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Darragh O'Donovan, Will O'Donoghue; Gearoid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Graeme Mulcahy, Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan.
Subs: Peter Casey for Mulcahy (49), David Reidy for O’Donovan (59), Pat Ryan for Flanagan (63), Adrian Breen for Gillane (68), Paddy O’Loughlin for Hayes (70).
WATERFORD: Stephen O'Keeffe; Ian Kenny, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Kevin Moran, Tadhg de Burca, Calum Lyons; Jamie Barron, Kieran Bennett; Jack Fagan, Austin Gleeson, Neil Montgomery; Dessie Hutchinson, Stephen Bennett, Jack Prendergast.
Subs: Iarlaith Daly for De Burca (21), Darragh Lyons for K Bennett (40), Conor Gleeson for Montgomery (44), Patrick Curran for Moran (52), Shane Fives for Kenny (55).
REFEREE: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).