The Limerick team who defeated Waterford in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-final in Croke Park last Saturday.

Heading into last Saturday’s All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-final, the expectation was that Waterford would put up a much sterner challenge to Limerick than they did in last year’s All-Ireland final last December.
What transpired after referee John Keenan got proceedings underway half an hour late because the Croke Park authorities delayed the throw in due to a road traffic accident was more of the same as the 2020 final rematch evolved into a mismatch as Limerick had secured a final spot long before the Wicklow official sounded the final blast.
Limerick march on to a third final in four years and chasing a 10th All-Ireland success against great Munster rivals, Cork on August 22nd.
If there is a downside to this latest success by Limerick at headquarters, it was the sending off of Peter Casey with just over ten minutes remaining. The Na Piarsaigh star was shown a straight red by referee John Keenan following consultation with his umpire for the alleged offence that was anything but clear cut on reviewing footage of the incident.
Casey was in top form but his dismissal did not affect Limerick’s rhythm who while numerically challenged still outscored the Déise four points to three while the Na Piarsaigh wizard was observing proceedings from the sideline.
Waterford set out to go toe to toe with Limerick and while it upset Limerick’s rhythm in the opening quarter, there was no way the Déise were gpoing to be able to sustain it especially as it was a fourth game in as many weeks.
Liam Cahill’s men quickly wilted when Limerick turned up the heat in the second quarter, a period in which they outscored last year’s All-Ireland runners up, 0-11 to 0-4.
Darragh O’Donovan who was named Man of the Match and William O’Donoghue at midfield were immense and again negated the influence of Waterford’s Jamie Barron. The Fourmilewater man was unable to impose any level of influence on proceedings in contrast with that of the previous games and only made progress when moved into attack where he notched two points and forced a fine save from Nickie Quaid in the 62nd minute.
Most of the individual battles throughout the field were won by men donning green and when Liam Cahill looked to repair his sinking ship, there were multiple holes below the water and anything coming off the bench was unlikely to change it.
Another key matchup was that of Conor Prunty and Séamus Flanagan and was won at ease by the Feohanagh man with another hugely industrious performance that yielded him four well taken points.
In contrast to Cahill, when John Kiely looked to his bench he was able to spring two All Stars late in the game Graeme Mulcahy and Richie English on a day when his team never reached their full potential and did not have to and certainly fell short of the dizzy heights of the second half of the Munster final.
Cian Lynch and Séamus Flanagan had early points for Limerick before Kieran Bennett got the Déise off the mark all inside the opening two minutes.
The scoring rate decelerated quickly with Limerick from two Aaron Gillane points offset by efforts from Austin Gleeson from a line ball sublimely struck and Stephen Bennett left the minimum between the sides at the first water break, Limerick 0-4, Waterford 0-3.
Limerick clearly clicked into gear after the water break and though Austin Gleeson’s second of the game restored parity, Limerick went on to hit six in a row from Aaron Gillane, Séamus Flanagan, Gearóid Hegarty, Flanagan and Gillane again and Diarmaid Byrnes to draw 0-10 to 0-4 clear heading up to the half hour mark.
Dessie Hutchinson arrested the onslaught but his point was trumped by three in a row for John Kiely’s men from Peter Casey, Cian Lynch and Tom Morrissey.
Stephen Bennett and Austin Gleeson both from frees kept the scoreboard ticking over for Waterford before Limerick finished the half on a high with strikes from William O’Donoghue and Cian Lynch to lead 0-15 to 0-7 at half time.
Limerick continued on the offensive on the resumption of hostilities with further points from Tom Morrissey and Séamus Flanagan and after Stephen Bennett and Peter Casey traded points, Waterford went on their best scoring run of the match and briefly evoked memories of the tsunami Cahill’s men visited on Kilkenny on the home straight of last year’s All-Ireland semi-final.
Stephen Bennett, Calum Lyons, Dessie Hutchinson, and Stephen Bennett again reeled off four in a row to close the gap to six points 0-18 to 0-12.
Sensing danger Limerick responded through Diarmaid Byrnes which was quickly replied to by Stephen Bennett and after Tom Morrissey and Calum Lyons added to their sides’ tallies, Limerick took a giant step towards participation on All-Ireland final day.
Peter Casey intercepted a Waterford line ball and quickly offloaded to Gearóid Hegarty who headed for the Waterford goal and timed his offload to perfection to Aaron Gillane who gave Shaun O’Brien no chance with a pile driver, game, set and match 1-20 to 0-14 at the second water break .On 51 minutes Nickie Quaid had made a fine save from Austin Gleeson.
Aaron Gillane and Tom Morrissey stretched Limerick’s lead even though they were now down to fourteen men following the dismissal of Peter Casey. Points from Jamie Barron book ending a Darragh O’Donovan free did nothing more than keep the scoreboard ticking over for now a well vanquished Waterford.
Austin Gleeson sent over but it was Limerick who had the last say with white flags from Diarmaid Byrnes and Tom Morrissey to complete a very satisfactory evening at the office for John Kiely and his men.
Scorers: Limerick: Aaron Gillane 1-5, 4fs; Tom Morrissey 0-5; Séamus Flanagan 0-4; Cian Lynch, Diarmaid Byrnes, 2fs, 0-3 each, Peter Casey 0-2, Gearóid Hegarty, William O’Donoghue Darragh O’ Donovan free 0-1 each.
Waterford: Stephen Ben-nett 0-6, 5fs; Austin Gleeson 0-4, 1f, 1s; Dessie Hutchinson, Calum Lyons, Jamie Barron 0-2 each; Kieran Bennett 0-1.
Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Seán Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; William O’ Donoghue, Darragh O’Donovan; Gearóid Hegarty, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey; Aaron Gillane, Séamus Flanagan, Peter Casey.
Subs: David Reidy for Gearóid Hegarty (66), Graeme Mulcahy for Séamus Flanagan (67), Richie English for Diarmaid Byrnes (68), Conor Boylan for Cian Lynch (70), Colin Coughlan for Barry Nash (73).
Waterford: Shaun O’Brien; Ian Kenny, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Calum Lyons, Shane Bennett, Kieran Bennett; Jamie Barron, Peter Hogan; Jack Fagan, Jack Prendergast, Stephen Bennett; Conor Gleeson, Austin Gleeson, Dessie Hutchinson.
Subs: Darragh Lyons for Peter Hogan (43), Michael Kiely for Jack Prendergast (43), Neil Montgomery for Jack Fagan (52), Shane Fives for Ian Kenny (55), Patrick Curran for Shane Bennett (55).
Referee: John Keenan, Wicklow.