Limerick are All-Ireland champions for the second time in three years, after a 0-30 to 0-19 final win over Waterford.
Good teams win All-Ireland titles. Only great teams back it up. This Limerick team can now be considered amongst the greats.
From 1-15, they were deserving winners in an All-Ireland final masterclass. In the process, they become the first hurling team since Tipperary in 1961 to win every competitive match in a season.
Gearoid Hegarty, Aaron Gillane and Tom Morrissey led the scoring, but in truth it was a classy team effort as they overpowered Waterford.
The Déise’s wait for a first title since 1959 goes on.
There was no major sense of occasion ahead of throw-in. There was no significant atmosphere, barring aeroplanes flying overhead following the national anthem.
Waterford failed to pick up from where they left off against Kilkenny two weeks ago, as the Treaty enjoyed a fast start.
Tom Morrissey bagged an early brace, while Aaron Gillane showed no signs of injury after he was a doubt to feature in the final. The Patrickswell man scored three from play in the first half, and was a constant threat throughout.
Stephen O’Keeffe kept the Suir-siders in touch with a heroic double-save, first denying Kyle Hayes and then Cian Lynch.
The Treaty took a 0-8 to 0-4 lead into the water break, and the Déise were already on the back foot. To compound their worries, Tadhg de Búrca was forced ashore in the 22nd minute.
Despite the loss of their talismanic defender, Liam Cahill’s charges dug deep in the second quarter. Stephen O’Keeffe scored seven first-half frees, while Austin Gleeson knocked over some eye-catching scores.
Nonetheless, the Limerick half-forward line continued to influence the game, with Gearoid Morrissey scoring two points to make help his side into a 0-14 to 0-11 lead at the break.
Limerick took control in the third quarter, winning the 16-minute period 0-10 to 0-5. Gearoid Hegarty constantly popped up in the right places, while Tom Morrissey and Seamus Flanagan also chipped in with scores.
The Déise had few answers, and were left with a mountain to climb at the second water break, trailing by eight.
As Waterford continued to pour forward, they hunted goals. But they were perhaps guilty of going for three-pointers when the opportunity was not fully on offer. Nicky Quaid stood up well to shots from Bennett, Calum Lyons and Dessie Hutchinson.
Up the other end, Hegarty and Gillane kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Waterford’s hunt for goals lessened their potential total, and perhaps the 11-point margin didn’t do them justice.
But it’s irrelevant to this Limerick group, who cement their place in the history books.
Limerick: Aaron Gillane (0-10, 0-6 frees), Gearóid Hegarty (0-7), Tom Morrissey (0-5), Séamus Flanagan (0-3), Declan Hannon (0-1), Kyle Hayes (0-1), Will O’Donoghue (0-1), Pat Ryan (0-1), Diarmaid Byrnes (0-1).
Waterford: Stephen Bennett (0-10 – 0-9 frees), Austin Gleeson (0-5 – 0-1 free, 0-1 side-line), Calum Lyons (0-1), Kieran Bennett (0-1), Dessie Hutchinson (0-1), Kevin Moran (0-1).
1. Nicky Quaid
2. Sean Finn
3. Dan Morrissey
4. Barry Nash
5. Diarmaid Byrnes
6. Declan Hannon
7. Kyle Hayes
8. Darragh O’Donovan
9. William O’Donoghue
10. Gearoid Hegarty
11. Cian Lynch
12. Tom Morrissey
13. Aaron Gillane
14. Seamus Flanagan
15. Graeme Mulcahy
Peter Casey for Graeme Mulcahy (49th minute)
David Reidy for Darragh O’Donovan (60th minute)
Pat Ryan for Seamus Flanagan (63rd minute)
Adrian Breen for Aaron Gillane (69th minute)
Paddy O’Loughlin for Kyle Hayes (71st minute)
1. Stephen O’Keeffe
2. Ian Kenny
3. Conor Prunty
4. Shane McNulty
5. Calum Lyons
6. Tadhg de Búrca
7. Kevin Moran
8. Jamie Barron
9. Kieran Bennett
10. Jack Fagan
11. Neil Montgomery
12. Stephen Bennett
13. Dessie Hutchinson
14. Austin Gleeson
15. Jack Prendergast
Iarlaith Daly for Tadhg de Búrca (22nd minute)
Darragh Lyons for Kieran Bennett (40th minute)
Conor Gleeson for Neil Montgomery (45th minute)
Patrick Curran for Kevin Moran (52nd minute)
Shane Fives for Ian Kenny (55th minute)
Watch Inside The Game on Wednesday evening on Sky Sports Mix, as we review the hurling final and look ahead to the football decider.
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