By Daragh Ó Conchúir
A point from substitute Paudie Prendergast in the second minute of injury time salvaged a deserved 2-16 to 0-22 draw for Waterford against Limerick in a thrilling all-Munster AHL Division 1 opener at the Gaelic Grounds.
Derek McGrath’s young wards were on top for much of proceedings but looked to have lost it when Richie McCarthy drove over from inside his own half with the 70 minutes just elapsed.
Having led by four points on six occasions, a share of the spoils was just desserts for Waterford but Limerick are one of the country’s best teams right now and they showed their mettle with a battling performance.
David Reidy goaled from two penalties, in the first and 48th minutes, but Pauric Mahony was the place-ball king, with nine of his 11-point haul coming from frees.
Kilmallock made Gavin O’Mahony available to TJ Ryan despite an impending All-Ireland club final and that proved significant, as O’Mahony provided five points from play in a wonderful exhibition of effort.
Waterford led by 0-14 to 1-7 at half time but three points from Paul Browne, allied with Reidy’s second goal, got Limerick back in touch to provide that dramatic conclusion.
Offaly provided a huge boost to hurling in the county with a surprise 1-24 to 0-23 win over neighbours Laois at O’Moore Park.
Shane Dooley was the hero for the Faithful, providing a phenomenal 1-14 of his side’s tally in a fabulous display. While 1-10 of that tally came from frees, he was always a threat and a four-point contribution from play supports that.
Zane Keenan made his return to the Laois camp after a number of years of self-imposed exile and he showed his importance with 10 points, while Cha Dwyer contributed six points from play in another eye-catching effort.
Dooley’s goal from a 20m free at the beginning of the second half gave Offaly the breathing space they needed though and Keenan’s failure to convert from two late penalties made it the visitors’ day.
And in today’s only tie, Wexford needed a Harry Kehoe point to see of Antrim in a thriller by 1-24 to 2-20 at Wexford Park.
It was a narrow escape for one of the success stories of last season’s champions and they had to do it the hard way, after captain Tomás Waters was sent off late in the first half.
A Paul Shiels goal helped the Saffrons settle early on but a Liam Óg McGovern major gave the hosts a three-point-point lead at the change of ends and they quickly stretched that to eight after the resumption.
But with midfielder Neil McManus on fire, Antrim went on a mighty offensive and shot 1-6 without reply to lead with five minutes remaining.
The goal came when PJ O’Connell flicked on McManus’ free and Kevin Ryan’s side looked like snatching a famous win.
Wexford dug deep though and Kehoe’s point denied them any return from a Trojan effort.