Limerick kickstart summer against woeful Waterford

Limerick kickstart summer against woeful Waterford

Waterford 0-10 - 2-24 Limerick

Limerick's summer looks a good deal brighter after this afternoon's Munster Championship duties in Walsh Park but the real story was the manner in which Waterford's descended from gloomy into pitch black.

Defeats to Clare and Tipperary in the first two rounds had left the Deise facing a win-or-bust scenario and the home side duly declared itself bankrupt long before the final whistle put them out of their collective misery.

Their ambitions in Munster and beyond are now ended.

This is the second year in a row that they will fail to make it beyond the provincial borders and they still have what is, for them, a meaningless visit to Cork to come before they can put it all behind them.

How bad were they? One point from play in the second-half. Not a single score for the last 22 minutes. We could go on... That they spent the last 10 of those minutes with just 14 men is nothing more than an asterisk.

It was an effort so poor, so unstructured and so lacking in heart that it has to dilute the benefits accruing to a Limerick side that ticked all the boxes required after their shock loss to Cork at the Gaelic Grounds.

The All-Ireland champions are, at least, up and running.

It all began well enough for Waterford. Paraic Fanning's lads were four points to one up inside eight minutes and playing with a structure at both ends that suggested this could be a more profitable afternoon than their first two.

Limerick's intricate attacks were being frustrated by nips and blocks and bodies – plenty of them – while there was enough decent ball finding its way up the other end to get the scoreboard moving.

The wind was significant, blowing more or less at Waterford's backs, but Limerick's stickwork and interplay was such that they eventually found their rhythm and when they did the entire game shifted on its axis.

Limerick kickstart summer against woeful Waterford

Waterford would go 28 minutes of the first-half without registering a score from play, two Pauric Mahony's frees being their only source of sustenance. Limerick would help themselves to 1-8 in that same time frame.

That's the game right there.

Waterford were giving concern at both ends by now, living dangerously at times at the back and utterly failing in their attempts to navigate a path up the field. What few chances they had fell wide all too often.

Limerick's first-half goal came via Aaron Gillane who was fed through a gaping hole in the middle of the Deise defence by Gearoid Hegarty . It all started with a contested midfield ball that squirted loose.

It was far too simple an execution and one Waterford couldn't afford.

Down 1-10 to 0-7 at the break, they needed to change something, anything, though that was easier said than done against the league winners who by now had washed the dirt from that Cork loss out of their hair.

Fanning certainly changed things up with the introduction of Michael 'Brick' Walsh and Shane Bennett at the break generating as much of a buzz as the fact that the men replaced were Austin Gleeson and Maurice Shanahan.

Big calls, both, yet no manager can plan for what happened next given Limerick had another goal, claimed by Gearoid Hegarty, within three minutes of the restart. And the manner of the concession was as hurtful as anything else.

The St Patrick's man was isolated out on the sideline when he took possession and then left more or less unaccompanied on his journey in towards goals. Stephen O'Keeffe was given little chance in the nets.

Limerick kickstart summer against woeful Waterford

It wasn't the only time Limerick had been given such room.

Last year's hurling championship was speckled with examples of counties coming back from nine points down but there was never the slightest hint of anything similar happening here. Waterford were actually getting worse.

Limerick merely pulled further and further away from an opponent that could have been accused of downing tools were it not for the manner in which their frustrations began to show.

Shane Bennett should have seen red for a wincing, high shoulder charge on an unsuspecting Darragh O'Donovan. Minutes later and Pauric Mahony did see red for an awful wild swing across Barry Murphy.

Add in the ease with which Limerick were racking up scores and wides and it was all very unedifying, an embarrassing mismatch in front of a 10,874 crowd that filtered away in steady streams long before the end.

Scorers for Waterford: P Mahony (0-7, 5 frees); J Prendergast, Stephen Bennett and Shane Bennett (all 0-1).

Scorers for Limerick: A Gillane (1-4, 0-4 frees); S Dowling (0-5, 4 frees); G Hegarty (1-1); K Hayes (0-3); P O'Loughlin, D O'Donovan and P Casey (all 0-2); D Hannon, C Lynch, T Morrissey, D Reidy and B Murphy (all 0-1).

Waterford: S O'Keeffe; N Connors, C Prunty, C Lyons, D Fives, T de Burca, K Moran; J Barron, A Gleeson; P Mahony, S Bennett, J Prendergast; M Kearney, M Shanahan, T Ryan. Subs: S Bennett for Gleeson and M Walsh for Shanahan (both HT); C Gleeson for D Fives (51); P Ryan for Mulcahy (69); S McNulty for Connors (70).

Limerick: N Quaid; S Finn, R English, M Casey; D Morrissey, D Hannon, P O'Loughlin; C Lynch, W O'Donoghue; G Hegarty, K Hayes, T Morrissey; G Mulcahy, A Gillane, P Casey. Subs: D O'Donovan for O'Donoghue (50); B Murphy for Gillane (52); S Dowling for T Morrissey (54); D Reidy for Hegarty (61); B O'Halloran for Ryan (64).

Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).

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