The game’s final score capped an extraordinary comeback by the hosts, who had leaked three goals as they were blown out of it in the first half by the majestic presence of Conor Prunty in the Decies midfield.
Down nine points just after the break, Limerick’s winless streak looked like stretching to 13, but an outstanding half-back line led the relentless charge that kept grinding away until Waterford’s lead had vanished.
After a slow start, Waterford took over, with Conor Murray’s point and a Michael Culloo goal helping to push them seven ahead. Mikey Morrissey’s reply was followed by O’Meara ploughing up the middle for a barnstorming goal.
However, after Diarmuid Kelly replied and Looby and White swapping frees, Limerick were frustrated as Culloo’s speculative shot was deflected to the Limerick net.
Morrissey and Kelly hit back for Limerick and were met by two Looby frees before Morrissey’s free left the half-time score at 3-6 to 0-7.
Murray brought the gap back to seven, but the hosts restarted more positively. Points from Adam Storan and Morrissey showed Limerick’s intent. John Wallace then ended a lightning passing movement to the net.
Limerick momentum faltered as Prunty regained his mastery of the middle and Seán White’s free and an O’Meara score broke the sequence until the Shannonsiders found their second wind in the closing minutes.
Two Richard Hayes frees and one from Morrissey cut the margin to two and, while Prunty pointed, the Limerick tide was rolling. Colm McSweeney scored a point and Seán Murphy sent the crowd into rapture by bundling the ball into the net after fellow Newcastlewest man Kelly was blocked.
Waterford’s hopes of rescuing their season faded when corner-back Darragh O’Grady earned a second yellow.
M Morrissey 0-6 (3f), J Wallace, S Murphy 1-0 each, D Kelly, A White (2f), R Hayes (2f) 0-2 each, A Storan, C McSweeney 0-1 each.
S O’Meara 1-2, D Looby 0-4 (3f), M Culloo 1-1, E Sheehy 1-0 (og), C Murray 0-2, C Prunty 0-1.
A Murphy; D Hanley, L O’Connell, F Murphy; J Wallace, S Ivess, S Murphy; A Kerins, M Whelan; A White, M Morrissey, E Sheehy; D Kelly, Connolly, J Ryan. SUBS: : A Storan for A White (20m), C McSweeney for E Sheehy (ht), R Hayes for M Connolly (43m).
K Dwane; D O’Grady, S Ryan, C McCarthy; C Barry, J Elstead, N Montgomery; C Prunty, C Looney; M Culloo, C Murray, S O’Meara; M Sweeney, D Looby, D Guiry. SUBS: S White for D Looby (43m), D McGrath for N Montgomery (55m), M Phelan for C Looney (56m), D McGuckian for J Elstead (60m), G Sheehan for M Sweeney (60m).
D Murnane (Cork).