Waterford 4-8 Limerick 1-14

Waterford’s minor hurlers overcame Limerick in dramatic fashion at the Gaelic Grounds last Wednesday night to book a Munster semi-final spot.

Jimmy Meaney’s Déise lads’ 4-8 to 1-14 victory owed itself to two goals in the last three minutes. The Shannonsiders looked home and hosed until Clashmore’s dual star Brian O’Halloran pounced at speed an opening before blasting home, followed right at the death by a 60-metre sideline cut from Portlaw’s John Dee that ended up in the net.

Both sides tasted first-round defeat a week earlier: Waterford to Clare and Limerick to Tipperary. Here Limerick got off to a great start, sticking over four points from Niall Kennedy and three from Willie Griffin to give them an early lead. Indeed, Waterford’s first score of the game did not come until midway through the opening half when De La Salle’s Jake Dillon pointed from play, followed by Paudric Mahony from a free.

Mark Ranahan and Paudric Mahony exchanged points before Paudie Prendergast goaled for Waterford after he had been set up by Jake Dillon. Kevin Downs and Cathal McNamara added points for Limerick which Jake Dillon and Paudric Mahony cancelled out, but it was the homesters who finished the stronger with Kevin Downs and Donal Hannon scoring points either side of a goal by Cathal McNamara who was set up by Michael O’Brien.

Limerick led by 1-9 to 1-5 at the break but Waterford used the wind at their backs to their advantage. Paudric Mahony scored twice more to cut the Limerick lead to two points and when Darragh Fives set up Cappoquin’s Finan Murray, on as a sub, for Waterford’s second goal the visitors were in front for the first time.

But Limerick hit back with four points to retake a 1-13 to 2-7 lead. Donal Hannon, Cathal McNamara and two from Willie Griffin in between had Limerick three points up with full-time approaching.

Then came Brian O’Halloran’s strike, sending the sliotar high into the roof of the Limerick net to level the scoring and most likely force extra time. Willie Griffin put Limerick a point up when he scored from play just as the sixty minutes elapsed. For the second time in a week Waterford supporters were sitting on the edges of their seat, but this time there was to be a joyous finish as first Dee’s sideline cut from just inside the Limerick half resulted in an unlikely green flag, and Paudric Mahony followed up with a free to secure Waterford a second meeting with Clare in the last week of June.

The Decies’ defiance was exemplified by Ballygunner ‘keeper Stephen O’Keeffe, who made a couple of terrific point-blank saves at a vital stage.

Limerick: A Murphy; B Cleary, N Foley, N Buckley; P Ahern, D Hannon, T O’Callaghan; N Kennedy, L O’Shea; S Dowling, M Ranahan, K Downes; M Ryan, C McNamara, W Griffin. Subs: B Mullins for O’Shea (26), M Barry for Dowling (44).

Scorers: W Griffin, 0-6 (0-2f), C McNamara, 1-1, D Hannon, 0-2f, S Dowling, 0-2, N Kennedy, M Ranahan, K Downes, 0-1 each.

Waterford: S O’Keeffe (Ballygunner), L Egan (Dungarvan), T Costello (Dunhill), M Wyse (Passage), J Dee (Portlaw), P Mahony (Ballygunner), D Fives (Tourin), K Moore (Dungarvan), K Moore (Ardmore), J Prendergast (Lismore), B O’Halloran (Clashmore), Paudric Mahony (Ballygunner), M O’Neill (Mt. Sion), J Dillon (De La Salle), P Prendergast (Lismore). Subs used: F Murray (Cappoquin), E Murphy (Dunhill).

Scorers: P Mahony, 0-6 (0-5f), J Dee, B O’Halloran, F Murray, P Prendergast, 1-0 each, J Dillon, 0-2. Subs: F Murray for K Murphy (ht), F Murray for J Prendergast, (39).

Referee: T Ryan (Tipperary).