However, they threw the form book out the window and, despite losing a man to a debatable first-half decision, they ignited the game after the break before an injury-time goal delivered Limerick a flattering victory.
Though they made heavy weather of their dominance of a turgid opening period, Limerick looked to have the game well under control when they led by six 10 minutes into the second half.
However, once Waterford threw caution to the wind coming up to the three-quarter mark and started to attack with conviction, Limerick struggled to protect their lead and were thankful for the breaks and the decisions going their way before the game ended after five eventful added minutes.
After a shapeless opening, Seán Whelan-Barrett’s free got Waterford off the mark, before Limerick skipper Karl Moloney replied. With the breeze behind them, the hosts were dominating possession but, between shooting wide and failing to get the last pass in, they didn’t take the lead until the quarter mark, but Niall McAuliffe’s free adjusted the radar, as Seán Ryan and Noel Callanan quickly followed up.
Waterford’s task was made more difficult when Billy Power received a straight red for a challenge, but Limerick failed to exploit the extra man and Mark Twomey pulled one back with a free.
Coming up to the break, the home side picked it up again, as Ryan sent over his second and Callanan and McAuliffe followed up to increase their lead to 0-7 to 0-2.
The pace of the game moved up a notch on the restart, with Twomey sending over a 50-metre free, only to be met by Callanan and a Rory O’Brien free.
However, when Whelan-Barrett replied off a free, Waterford began to move forward with greater intensity as they took over midfield. It was game on when Darragh O’Keeffe pulled back another and Tom Barron’s ground kick skimmed inches over the crossbar off a goalmouth scramble.
O’Brien’s free, brought in for dissent, halted the Decies march, but it was met in kind by Barron and, after sub Brian Lynch brought the gap back to two, Waterford were denied the lead when Cian Walsh spectacularly saved off Whelan-Barrett. After two chances were missed, Whelan-Barrett sent over a free.
However, just as they were closing in for the kill, a Limerick break drew a free close in. It was quickly taken and sub Calvin Moran burst in to shoot to the corner of the net. Waterford tried to respond and had a penalty call turned down before time ran out.
N Callanan 0-3, Calvin Moran 1-0, S Ryan, N McAuliffe (1f), R O’Brien (2f) 0-2 each, K Moloney 0-1.
S Whelan-Barrett 0-3 (3f), M Twomey (2f), T Barron (1f) 0-2 each, D O’Keeffe, B Lynch 0-1 each.
C Walsh; M Quinlan, E Burke, C Ferris; P Power, J Fitzgerald, J Cummins; K Moloney, L Kennedy; B Coleman, N Callanan, R O’Brien; D Burke, S Ryan, Colm Moran.
N McAuliffe for Colm Moran (inj 5), P Collins for N McAuliffe (35), Calvin Moran for S Ryan (40), A Costelloe for B Coleman (52).
A Beresford; M Horgan, S Ahern, D Cullinane; S Murphy-Nix, M Twomey, C Kilgannon; M Devine, C Cullinane; B Power, D Booth, S Whelan-Barrett; S Curry, D O’Keeffe, T Barron.
B Lynch for D Booth (38), D Montgomery for S Curry (46), J Walsh for D O’Keeffe (54).
D Grogan (Tipperary).