Limerick 1-20 Waterford 4-8
Limerick’s summer of hurling love continues.
Last night, following another wonderful shoot-out against Waterford, the Shannonsiders were crowned Electric Ireland Munsterminor hurling champions at Semple Stadium.
It was another landmark victory for Limerick hurling as for the first time since 1940, a minor-senior provincial double has been secured.
After the seniors ended their 17-year famine nine days ago, the minors banished a 29-year hoodoo in glorious fashion as 6,532 spellbound spectators witnessed more history in the making.
It’s a shame that the hurling witnessed on the pitch isn’t the only thing worth talking about, however, as what can only be described as crowd mayhem marred the start of the game.
The throw-in time was delayed by 10 minutes as it became apparent far more people would be present than had been originally budgeted for. Stewards were conspicuous by their absence as hundreds of spectators streamed across the Semple sod from the New Stand side of the field to the Old stand.
This was all taking place as both teams were warming up and as Amhrán na BhFiann was played over the PA system, there were still fans on the pitch.
It was a truly bizarre scene and Munster Council officials have some questions to answer as some sources indicated last night that just a handful of stewards were drafted in for duty.
But to dwell on that mayhem would not do justice to Limerick’s superb victory. And lest we forget the scoring exploits of Waterford’s Stephen Bennett, who hit 3-2 and yet still ended up on the losing side. Shades of John Mullane in the young Ballysaggart star’s display.
Bennett sparked Waterford into life with a 17th minute goal after they had fallen five points behind, pulled them level early in the second half with another clinical strike and tied the game with his hat-trick effort with just three minutes remaining.
But Limerick, who led by 1-7 to 2-2 at half-time, had a kick left in them as top-scorer Ronan Lynch, relocated from attack to centre back, David Dempsey and Pat Ryan scored the three late points to secure the win.
Their reward is an All-Ireland semi-final appearance against Laois or Galway but Waterford must lift themselves quickly for a quarter-final assignment at Parnell Park in Dublin next Sunday, with Antrim the opposition.
It could have been different as this one hung in the balance right until the end. The two sides had served up a feast at the Gaelic Grounds nine days previously and Waterford are now left to rue the concession of an eight-point lead at the first time of asking.
Tom Morrissey’s last-minute goal salvaged a replay for Brian Ryan’s young Treaty boys and boosted by the success of the seniors, they made no mistake last night.
When the pitch was eventually cleared and referee John O’Brien threw in the ball. The opening five minutes were scrappy and played out in a surreal atmosphere. But Morrissey, one of two changes in personnel to the team listed in the match programme, finally registered the opening score of the game in the fifth minute and Limerick were off.
They stormed into that five-point lead before goals from Bennett and Adam Farrell had Waterford in front for the first time by the 23rd minute, 2-2 to 0-6.
Chasing a first Munster title in this grade since 2009, Waterford looked on course for a half-time lead but Cian Lynch pounced with a goal in stoppage time and Limerick had the lead at the break.
Scorers for Limerick: R Lynch 0-6 (5f), C Lynch 1-2, T Morrissey, B Nash & P Ryan 0-3 each, D Dempsey 0-2, D Coleman 0-1.
Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 3-2 (1-0f), A Farrell 1-0, P Curran 0-3 (1f), C Curran 0-2, C Gleeson 0-1.
LIMERICK: C Ryan; R English, S Cahill, S Finn; A La Touche Cosgrave, R Lynch, S Flanagan; J Butler, D O’Donovan; D Dempsey, B Nash, C Lynch; D Coleman, T Morrissey, P Ryan.
Subs: E Doyle for Coleman (30), M Casey for Cahill (39), L Lyons for Butler (53), D Coleman for Doyle (58).
WATERFORD: G Power; C Leamy, K Daly, W Hahessy; Shane Bennett, A Gleeson, T Devine; M Kearney, M Harney; A Farrell, P Curran, DJ Foran; C Roche, Stephen Bennett, C Gleeson.
Subs: C Curran for Roche (inj, 29), MJ Sutton for Devine (49).
Referee: J O’Brien (Tipperary).