Casey fires Déise to historic win

A HAT-TRICK of goals by Shane Casey powered Waterford to an historic first Munster IHC title at Semple Stadium Thurles last night.

Casey who is eligible for the under 21 grade but deemed not good enough to make the county team, certainly put down a marker for the upcoming Munster final against Cork with a wonderful display of scoring contributing a massive 3-5 to his side’s tally.

While Casey was undoubtedly the scoring hero, the contributions of outstanding full back John O’Leary, centre back Shane Kearney, Ger Power and Eoin Bennett was significant.

The Shannonsiders will be glad to see the back of the white and blue jersey of Waterford for 2007. This was their third defeat at the hands of the Déise, but they can have no complaints as they were outhurled by an excellently drilled team that will make a bold bid for All-Ireland honours.

Wind assisted Limerick made the better start and led after a minute through a Ruairi O’Neill point. The Shannonsiders hurling was that bit more direct with Ross Donovan doing well at corner back and Alan O’Connor prominent at midfield and they were full value for their 0-4 to 0-3 lead after just eight minutes.

Waterford who had never won this grade of championship before, were very wasteful in that period shooting five wides from scoreable positions and they were dependant on the accuracy of Shane Casey from frees for scores as he claimed all his side’s tally.

Casey was posing a lot of problems for the Limerick defence and he showed his value with a cracking goal set up for him by Michael Molumphy.

That goal lifted the game considerably and after Ruairi O’Neill tied the game for the first time, Casey gave Waterford the lead with a point before the Déise men struck for their second goal.

Following an excellent passing movement from inside their own half, the impressive Casey found the unmarked Stephen Barron’s whose powerful shot found the net despite the best efforts of goalkeeper John Quaid to keep the shot out.

With Wayne Hutchinson hurling supremely at wing back Waterford were shaping as winners, but Limerick with Alan O’Connor lording it at midfield for them, came storming back, and O’Connor hit four superb pints in a row to tie the game for the second time.

The standard hurling was excellent for the grade with both teams richly endowed with some great players and after Pat Fitzgerald hit three wides, he finally found the target for a point which helped Waterford to a 2-5 to 0-10 half time lead and it was all to play for.

The second half developed into a tremendous contest as play swung from end to end. At the end of the third quarter only two points separated the teams, Waterford in front 2-8 to 0-12, but Limerick threw the issue wide open when Paul Storan broke through for a marvellous goal to give his side a slender lead.

With the game delicately balanced, the Déise men finally hit the front again when the magnificent Shane Casey caught Ger Power’s longer delivery, took the punishment as he made his way past two defenders before giving the Limerick netminder no chance from five metres out.

With a four point cushion and eight minutes remaining Waterford were not going to be caught from that position, and as Limerick failed to score for the last 17 minutes, two further goals by Conor Carey and Casey’s third put the seal on a splendid night’s work.

Scorers: Waterford: S. Casey 3-5 (0-4 frees); S. Barron 1-1; C. Carey 1-0; G. Power 0-2; E. Bennett, P. Fitzgerald, M. Molumphy 0-1 each. Limerick: A. O’Connor 0-7 (0-5 frees); P. Storan 1-0; R. O’Neill 0-2; R. McKeogh, D. Sullivan, A. Brennan 0-1 each.

WATERFORD: I. O’Regan; B. Wall, J. O’Leary, T. Molumphy; R. Foley, S. Kearney, W. Hutchinson; E. Bennett, D. Murphy; G. Power, C. Carey, M. Molumphy; P. Fitzgerald, S. Casey, S. Barron.

Subs: J. Hartley for D. Murphy; M. Whelan for S. Casey; M. Kearney for R. Foley; J. Phelan for M. Molumphy; D. O’Gorman for S. Barron.

LIMERICK: J. Quaid; T. Giltenane, R. McCarthy, R. Donovan; L. O’Dwyer, S. Walsh, D. O’Brien; D. Sullivan, A. O’Connor; A. Brennan, R. O’Neill, P. Storan; R. McKeogh, D. Murphy, M. Fitzgerald.

Subs: T. Condon for O’Dwyer; J. Murphy for Giltenane; A. McAuliffe for O’Neill; L. Kennelly for McAuliffe; M. Body for M. Fitzgerald.

Referee: J. Healy (Clare).

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