Michael Moynihan, Thurles
A comfortable win for Waterford eventually in this NHL semi-final, the holders easing away from Limerick in the second half thanks to two timely goals.
Limerick attacked the town end goal with a slight breeze in the first half: both sides operated with a spare defender, Ronan Lynch sweeping for Limerick and Darragh Fives free for Waterford. Early on both sides swapped scores with neither gaining primacy, Tom Morrissey's snap shot from the wing the best score of the opening period.
Limerick were one up on twelve minutes, five points to four, with Paul Browne and James Ryan beginning to impress. Waterford had Patrick Curran playing as a centre-forward instead of Shane Bennett and missed Bennett's presence outfield, but they won frees when running at Limerick, and that kept them in touch.
A monster Austin Gleeson free put Waterford ahead, 0-8 to 0-7, on twenty minutes, but Limerick nudged ahead by two, thanks to Ronan Lynch (two frees) and Morrissey, the men in green and white hitting form, only for a Curran free and Gleson to level matters.
Limerick were ascendant, though, hitting another Lynch free and a terrific Diarmaid Byrnes point to lead 0-12 to 0-10 with half-time looming, though there was still time for Curran to cut the deficit to the minimum with another free before the break.
Limerick resumed with another Lynch free before Gleeson soloed through for a goal chance, smartly saved by Quaid.
Waterford then took over, hitting four points in a row, the last an over-the-shoulder gem by Curran, before Bennett was grounded for a penalty on 42 minutes: Bennett buried the penalty himself to make it 1-15 to 0-13.
When Curran added another free four minutes later Waterford had 1-5 on the bounce and Limerick were hard pressed. They rallied, however, with three on the trot, Barry Nash's the pick of them, to make it 1-17 to 0-17 with fifteen minutes left; Waterford responded with three points in a row, though, to restore their advantage to six.
They then walked through for a second goal, Brian O'Halloran and Michael Walsh combining to place Curran for a smart ground finish, and the Deise were never going to let a nine-point lead slip. Late goals for both teams (Shane Dowling for Limerick, Tom Devine for Waterford) only exercised the scoreboard keepers.
Scorers for Waterford: P. Curran (0-2 65s, 0-7 frees) 1-10; S. Bennett (1-0 pen) 1-3; T. Devine 1-1; A. Gleeson (0-1 free) 0-3; C. Dunford 0-2; T. de Burca, D. Fives, K. Moran, B. O'Halloran, T. Devine each.
Scorers for Limerick: R. Lynch (frees) 0-7; S. Dowling (frees) 1-1; T. Morrissey 0-3; D. Byrnes, B. Nash 0-2 each; P. Browne, J. Ryan, T. Condon 0-1 each.
WATERFORD: S. O'Keeffe, S. Fives, B. Coughlan, N. Connors, P. Mahony, T. de Burca, D. Fives, J. Barron, K. Moran ( c), M. Walsh, A. Gleeson, J. Dillon, P. Curran, S. Bennett, C. Dunford.
Subs: B. O'Halloran for Dunford, 48; S. McNulty for S. Fives, 55; T. Devine for Dillon, 58; P. Mahony for Walsh, 65; S. O'Sullivan for Moran, 67.
LIMERICK: N. Quaid ( c), S. O'Brien, R. McCarthy, R. English, P. O'Brien, D. Byrnes, R. Lynch, G. O'Mahony, P. Browne, G. Hegarty, J. Ryan, C Lynch, B. Nash, K. Downes, T. Morrissey.
Subs: J. Fitzgibbon for Hegarty, 48; T. Condon for S. O'Brien, 50; D. Hannon for Downes, 57; S. Dowling for P. O'Brien, 60; G. Mulcahy for R. Lynch, 65.
Referee: B. Kelly (Westmeath).