Waterford 0-25 Limerick 0-17

Updated: Saturday, 20 Jun 2009 22:17

Stephen Molumphy (r) of Waterford feels the full force of Limerick's Brian Geary
Stephen Molumphy (r) of Waterford feels the full force of Limerick's Brian Geary



Free-scoring Waterford marched into the Munster SHC final thanks to a runaway replay win over Limerick at Semple Stadium this afternoon.

Free-taker Eoin Kelly struck 0-12 and John Mullane (0-06) was a constant menace in open play as the Déise made significant improvements from the drawn clash.

Limerick also raised their game considerably, and three Niall Moran points helped them reduce the early arrears to 0-10 to 0-08 by half-time.

This was the second time in six years that these Munster rivals have replayed a semi-final. Waterford won the second game by two points in 2003 and a tight affair was expected once again in Thurles.

If last weekend's drawn encounter was marked by some poor quality hurling from both sides, the replay thankfully produced a much better showing from the semi-finalists.

The hurling was open, fast and direct and while there was a bubbling undercurrent of win at all costs and yellow cards were produced after two melees, most of the challenges were firm but fair.

Waterford lined out as selected, with experienced wing-back Tony Browne returning to the starting line-up and talented dual player Gary Hurney joining the attack.

Limerick manager Justin McCarthy, facing his old team, had named an unchanged side in midweek, but there were three late alterations made, with defender Denis Moloney one of them.

In perfect conditions, Waterford got an early grip on proceedings and marched into a 0-04 to 0-01 lead – Kelly and Mullane quickly found their respective ranges.

Indeed, Limerick goalkeeper Brian Murray had to be on his toes to prevent Mullane from rasping a shot to the back in of the net in the fourth minute.

The Limerick defence gradually got to grips with the long ball tactic the Déise deployed, and efforts from Andrew O'Shaughnessy, Seamus Hickey and James Ryan cut the gap to 0-05 to 0-03.

McCarthy's men had the wind at their backs in the opening 35 minutes and a driven score from Niall Moran, who began to wield more influence as the half progressed, made it a one-point game.

With their forward colleagues playing his great determination and skill, Moran and Ryan pegged Waterford back after Seamus Prendergast and Mullane had added to their side’s tally.

But as half-time approached, and with tempers cooled following two short-lived dust-ups, Kelly landed two more points to boost his personal haul to 0-05 and give Waterford a two-point buffer to take into the second period.

Crucially, Davy Fitzgerald's charges were able to maintain that momentum on the resumption and by the 47th minute, they were 0-15 to 0-12 to the good.

Points from the influential Shane O'Sullivan, who showed his worth in midfield, and the livewire Mullane stretched the lead to three points, but two pointed frees from O'Shaughnessy got Limerick back within touching distance.

Over the following ten minutes, the sides mostly went point for point. Kelly continued to show his accuracy from placed balls and Mullane struck a superb individual score after darting past his third marker of the day and lashing over off his left.

Seamus Hickey, showing a great first touch, fired back an immediate response for a Limerick side that battled right to the finish.

Ollie Moran did some sterling work to set up his brother Niall for a score from close to the sideline and Waterford fans breathed a sigh of relief when Limerick forward David Breen made a poor connection when a goal looked on.

That missed chance came with Waterford only 0-18 to 0-16 ahead. Had a green flag been raised then, Limerick may well have gone on to win the game.

Suddenly, as if inspired back to life by that let-off, the Waterford forwards clicked into overdrive and they reeled off six points without reply to put the result beyond doubt.

Seamus Prendergast claimed three of them, profiting from some very good distribution, and the sixth and final score in the line came from Jack Kennedy.

The Déise midfield and attack were winning the individual battles at this stage.

The closing quarter-of-an-hour saw them transfer that dominance onto the scoreboard and following a Niall Moran free, Kelly had the final say as he fired his side into a final showdown with Clare or Tipperary.

LIMERICK: B Murray; D Reale, S Lucey, M O’Riordan; D Moloney, B Geary, M Foley; D O’Grady (0-01), S Hickey (0-02); P Browne (0-01), J Ryan (0-02), N Moran (0-05, 0-02f); O Moran, D Breen (0-01), A O’Shaughnessy (0-05, 0-05f).

Subs used: E Foley for O’Grady (47 mins), G Mulcahy for Foley (58), T Condon for O’Riordan (60).

WATERFORD: C Hennessy; E Murphy, D Prendergast, N Connors; R Foley, M Walsh, K Moran; T Browne, S O’Sullivan (0-01); J Nagle, S Molumphy (0-01), S Prendergast (0-04); J Mullane (0-06), G Hurney, E Kelly (0-12, 0-08f, 0-01 ‘65).

Subs used: D Shanahan for Molumphy (half-time), E McGrath for Nagle (47 mins), A Kearney for Foley (54), J Kennedy (0-01) for Moran (66), J Murray for Browne (70).

Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly)

Attendance: 15,374