Waterford boss Derek McGrath started some unfamiliar faces, while new Limerick boss John Kiely called on experienced players.
McGrath saw his men start strongly, Kiely’s side finished with a flourish. Something for everyone.
Waterford began well and had five points on the board before Limerick hit their first, a John Fitzgibbon free on 11 minutes.
DJ Foran goaled on 17 minutes after a quick Stephen Bennett delivery — 1-5 to 0-2 for Waterford. Limerick revived and hit the last five points of the half to trail 1-10 to 0-10 at the break.
The visitors carried that good shooting streak into the second half, hitting 11 points on the bounce, Alan Dempsey leading the way (Limerick hit six points in a row either side of half-time).
Their experienced players were now leading by example, and Waterford were struggling for rhythm after a raft of half-time changes.
The home side didn’t hit a score for the first 19 minutes of the second half and by then Limerick were eight up: At the final whistle they were seven ahead.
“There was a fair bit of a turnaround required,” said John Kiely afterwards. “We weren’t prepared for the physicality of it for some strange reason. Waterford came flying out of the traps.
“Once we adjusted and got used to the pace of the game we took control. It’s the first game of the year, we’d be happy enough.
“We had experience, but they also had lads who’ve won All-Ireland U21 medals, some of them on the team in the All-Ireland (senior) semi-final last year.
“From our perspective, the response was very encouraging. We could have had a few more scores on the board but the platform they had in the first 15, 20 minutes we turned around and we had it after that.
“We had the ball at half-back and in the middle and we played it through. That was what we weren’t doing in the first half, breaking tackles and linking play — we were just hitting it.
“A bit nervy, if you like — first day out, new management team, all of that. It’ll be interesting to see if the response is better in the first 20 minutes the next day.”
“We wouldn’t be too disappointed,” said Derek McGrath.
“This morning we decided to bring those players on at half-time, if you like, with an eye to the league. We were very impressed with the players we took off, actually.
“We were trying to monitor the first 10-15 minutes of the second half, we felt Limerick in terms of their experience that they overran us, but we wouldn’t be disappointed at all.”
McGrath confirmed the appointment of Philip Murphy as a new selector: “He’s a teacher in St Paul’s Community School, he had a good career with Roanmore himself, he’s trained them for a couple of years.
“He brings enthusiasm and knowledge to the set-up and he’s also a hard worker, like everybody else involved. He’ll give us everything he has, and that’s all we want.”
A minute’s silence was observed before the game in memory of the late Kevin Casey of WLR.
B. Nolan (0-3 frees, 0-6); DJ Foran (1-1); M. O’Neill (0-2); G. O’Brien, M. O’Brien, S. Roche, C. Roche, M. Kearney (0-1 each).
J. Fitzgibbon (0-6 frees, 0-8); A. Dempsey (0-7); S. Tobin (0-3); D. Byrnes (frees), G. Hegarty (0-2 each); D. Hannon (free), K. Hayes (0-1 each).
I. O’Regan, I. Kenny, S. McNulty, D. Lyons, S. Roche, MJ Sutton, C. Prunty, M. O’Brien, S. Roche, B. Nolan, S. Bennett, M.F. O’Neill, G. O’Brien (c), DJ Foran, M. Kearney.
C. Roche for S. Bennett, A. Molumby for S. Roche, B. O’Keeffe for Kearney, K. Fitzgerald for G. O’Brien (all HT); C Lyons for Prunty (48).
N. Quaid (c), S. O’Brien, R. McCarthy, M. Casey, D. Byrnes, S. Hickey, D. Hannon, J. Fitzgibbon, G. O’Mahony, G. Hegarty, A. Dempsey, D. Dempsey, S. Tobin, T. Morrissey, G. Mulcahy.
K. Hayes for D. Dempsey (HT); C. Ryan for Morrissey (43); P. Ryan for O’Mahohy (50); A Gillane for Tobin (56); R. English for McCarthy (66).
J. Ryan (Tipperary).