Mullane was without a goal for Waterford in championship hurling since the 2009 provincial final and had only raised one green flag in his last 12 championship outings.
But the De La Salle man ended that drought in some style as he landed two goals, including the dramatic injury-time strike that dashed Limerick’s hopes victory.
“It was some ball from Eoin across to Mullane and he fair stuck it”, Fitzgerald smiled afterwards.
“I was giving him a tough time all week. I was saying to him that he hadn’t scored a goal in two or three years and he needed to knock in a few. I can’t say much to him after that. “We were lucky in the end and we’d definitely want to look at ourselves in certain areas.”
Fitzgerald felt some of referee Barry Kelly’s decisions went against his team during the second-half and questioned the wisdom of selector Pat Bennett speaking last week about the Westmeath man officiating against Waterford.
“Everything was going against us today. Decisions went against us, other things went against us and we kept with it. Probably Pat Bennett’s article didn’t help us any bit. It probably did us more harm than good.
“I will have to talk to him about it. What I am happy about is that in the last year or two there has been a lot of changes and a lot of transition but the character they have showed is immense. I am really proud of the boys.”
Fitzgerald admitted Waterford struggled for phases during this match to halt Limerick’s attacking play and he was impressed by the performance of Donal O’Grady’s men.
“It’s very hard to play against that running game when they get it going right. That’s why we had to let the bodies go out because if you leave loose men around the middle of the field they’re only going to work the running game all the time. That’s why Hutchey and Darragh were left one-on-one inside. I thought when Brick went back there he steadied things really well for us. He’s the best centre-back in the country, but I’m not sure yet where to play him.
“In fairness to Limerick they’ve done a lot of work. They’re very spirited and they used the ball well. Limerick came into this game with people writing them off. We knew they were a good team. They had a plan out there and they gave it a fair go.”
Waterford were hit before the match by the absence of attacker Richie Foley, who injured his ankle practising frees yesterday morning. Fitzgerald is hopeful he will be fit for the Munster final but a clearer update will not be available until the coming weeks.
“He is going to be out for a week or two anyway. He went over on it this morning practising frees. It was a freak thing. We decided that it was the best thing not to put him under pressure today. We’ll see in a week or two what the story is.”
Waterford fielded five newcomers to championship action in yesterday’s tie and Fitzgerald believes this experience will be of immense benefit to them. “It has to give them confidence. Our backs were against the wall, time was up and we were down two points. I think if you look at the amount of blocks we had in that last two minutes was unbelievable. I saw Shane Walsh making a hook 45 yards out from goals and I saw Noel Connors throwing himself to get a tip on the ball. The young lads and the older lads at the end showed some courage in their blocking.
“We’ve a few weeks out to the Munster final and we’ve work to do but I still have wicked faith in our lads.”