In a thrilling climax before a crowd of 2,599, the hosts closed within a point on two occasions but Limerick held their composure. Top scorer Paul O’Brien sealed their place in the provincial showpiece on July 10 at the Gaelic Grounds with a free two minutes into injury time. The Mungret/St Paul’s forward churned out ten points for the winners.
Their lead stood at six with 12 minutes remaining but a spirited Déise rose to the challenge. In their best spell of hurling, they scored five on the spin, topped off by a cracking free from Eoghan Murray. Kyle Hayes and Cian Magnier Flynn appeared to move Limerick out of trouble but they needed to hold off another home surge to progress.
Waterford won the toss but chose to play against the breeze initially. Harry Ruddle Redmond sat in to protect his full back line. After a scrappy start, with poor wides on both sides, O’Brien split the posts from a free. The number 15 converted another before midfielder Brian Ryan benefitted from a turnover ball to shoot their first point from play.
A determined run by wing back Conor Dalton yielded Waterford’s opener after 12 minutes.
O’Brien and Eoghan Murray swapped frees as the spectacle improved during the second quarter. Brian Ryan hit his second from 50m before Déise skipper Michael Mahony answered close to the sideline.
The away side stretched the gap to four with Ryan and O’Brien on target again. Murray nailed his second free but Limerick responded instantly as David Woulfe fetched Mark O’Kelly’s puckout to fire over.
The clearest goal opportunity fell to Thomas Douglas on 29 minutes but his one-handed strike flew across the face of the target. On the stroke of half time, Darragh Carroll clipped in a stunning line ball in front of the stand to leave the guests 0-9 to 0-4 ahead.
The Waterford management team held lengthy deliberations at the break and Stephen Gough got a sharp response from his charges as Neil Montgomery pointed after eight seconds of the resumption. With the wind in their sails, Dalton set off on a lung bursting drive and dispatched his second point of the evening. Substitute Dylan Guiry supplied Donal Power as the hosts shaved the deficit to two (0-9 to 0-7).
Limerick stemmed the tide through captain Kyle Hayes and another O’Brien placed ball. Waterford dug in to pare the damage down to two once more courtesy of Murray and Jack Prendergast.
Pat Donnelly’s outfit seemed to kill the tie with four consecutive singles, including three from the prolific O’Brien. Waterford persisted, though. Points by Thomas Douglas, Mahony, Prendergast, Ciaran Kirwan, and Murray (free) left one between them as the locals found their voice.
Hayes and Cian Magnier Flynn steadied Limerick momentarily before another Déise wave crashed in. Power and Murray narrowed to one. Murray then floated a sideline right and wide. O’Brien clinched it for a relieved Treaty.
E Murray 0-5 (3fs); J Prendergast, C Dalton, M Mahony, D Power, T Douglas 0-2 each; C Kirwan, N Montgomery 0-1 each.
P O’Brien 0-10 (8fs); B Ryan 0-3; D Carroll (1 s-l), K Hayes 0-2 each; C Magnier Flynn, D Woulfe 0-1 each.
B Nolan (Roanmore); C Giles Doran (De La Salle), J Flavin (Ardmore), T Barron (Fourmilewater); L Wall (De La Salle), H Ruddle Redmond (Ballygunner), C Dalton (Clonea); D Power (Passage), C Curran (Brickey Rangers); E McGrath (Butlerstown), M Mahony (Ballygunner), N Montgomery (Abbeyside); T Douglas (De La Salle), E Murray (Ballyduff Upper), J Prendergast (Lismore).
D Guiry (Fourmilewater) for McGrath (29); C Kirwan (Fenor) for Montgomery (43); J Reade (St Mollerans) for Wall (57).
M O’Kelly (Croom); B Nash (South Liberties), C Nicholas (Monaleen), F Hourigan (Murroe/Boher); M O Grady (Knockainey), J Adams (Ballybrown), B Timmons Murroe/Boher); C McCarthy (Kilmallock), D Carroll (Newport); B Ryan (South Liberties), C Magnier Flynn (Killeedy), D Woulfe (Kilmallock); C Boylan (Na Piarsaigh), K Hayes (Kildimo/Pallaskenry), P O’Brien (Mungret/St Pauls).
J Flynn (Patrickswell) for McCarthy (H-T); C O’Connor (Kilmallock) for Timmons (41); M Bourke (Garryspillane) for Adams (56); A Barrett (Kilmallock) for Woulfe (58).
N Wall (Cork)