Operating at left half-forward, the Ballygunner player scored 1-11, including a goal from a 20-metre free, four minutes after the resumption, which sped his side on the road to victory.
Apart from Flynn’s match-winning contribution - he scored five classic points from play - Limerick also played a major part in this, their latest fall from grace. Failure by substitute Andrew O’Shaughnessy to convert a penalty in the 62nd minute, when JP Sheehan was pulled down as five points separated the sides, was a huge setback, while Limerick’s second-half tally of 10 wides to their opponents’ two, when playing with a slight wind advantage, tells its own story.
Limerick are going through a horrible spell, their lack of confidence enormous. They lack leadership at the back and up front and they have no-one of Paul Flynn’s class to inspire them. They fought gamely on brief occasions. But Waterford, always held the upper hand in a contest watched by an attendance of 2,320.
Ironically, Limerick played their best hurling early on when facing the wind and some good points from mid-fielder Paul O’Grady gave them much cause for hope before Flynn, with his textbook free-taking technique, launched Waterford into a four-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Tony Browne, John Mullane, Michael Walsh and Seamus Prendergast also added their names to the scoresheet as Waterford, inspired by Flynn, put an authoritative stamp on things. But three late pointed frees from Alan O’Connor left Limerick trailing by 0-11 to 0-9 at the interval and put a completely different complexion on matters.
Limerick, who were unfortunate not to have stolen a goal early on when a deft flick from full-forward Sean O’Connor stopped dead on the line, were shattered when Flynn’s shot for goal from a 20-metre free found the net and gave Waterford the ideal start to the second half.
Eoin Kelly added a point and in what appeared to be the twinkling of an eye, the Decies had surged six points in front. To say Limerick were crestfallen would be an understatement. But with great heart corner-forward Donie Ryan strove to bring his side back into the reckoning.
Ryan hit some fine points under pressure as Limerick gradually proceeded to pick up the pieces. And, due to the Garryspillane player’s determination, Limerick managed to stay in the hunt until Waterford blocked O’Shaughnessy’s penalty attempt on goal seven minutes from time.
Let off the hook, Waterford upped the tempo of their game and two splendid points from Eoin Kelly and the mighty Flynn gave the visitors the cushion of a seven-point lead entering the closing stages.
Defeat was now a certainty for a Limerick side that has endured much pain in this competition. But, to their credit, they did mount a late challenge to put a more respectable look on the scoreboard with two points from Conor Fitzgerald and another from midfielder Donal O’Grady.
But Waterford were well past the post in a game that will be principally remembered for the scintillating scoring feats of Paul Flynn.
: Waterford: P. Flynn 1-11 (1-6 frees), T. Browne, E. Kelly 0-2 each, M. Walsh, J. Mullane, E. McGrath 0-1 each. Limerick: A. O’Connor 0-4 (all frees), D. Ryan 0-4, P. O’Grady, C. Fitzgerald 0-3 each, N. Moran, S. O’Connor, O’Brien, D. O’Grady 0-1 each.
: S. Brenner; T. Feeney, J. O’Leary, D. Coffey; B. Phelan, J. Murray, E. Murphy; T. Browne, A. Moloney; D. Shanahan, M. Walsh, P. Flynn; E. Kelly, S. Prendergast, J. Mullane. Subs: E. McGrath for Mullane, D. Bennett for Browne.
: T. Houlihan; S. Lucey, T.J. Ryan, M. Foley; P. O’Dwyer, O. Moran, B. Geary; D. O’Grady, P. O’Grady; A. O’Connor, J. O’Brien, N. Moran; D. Ryan, S. O’Connor, C. Fitzgerald. Subs: J.P. Sheehan for O’Connor (injured), A. O’Shaughnessy for N. Moran.
: P. Horan (Offaly).