Gearoid Hegarty struck 1-05 in a superb display to guide champions Limerick into the semi-finals of the Allianz League at LIT Gaelic Grounds.

Hegarty's goal seven minutes from the break helped Limerick lead by 1-08 to 0-07 at the end of an opening half where both sides battled in the driving rain.

Hegarty’s goal put Limerick 1-07 to 0-04 in front but Pauric Mahony responded to the goal with three frees in a row to keep Waterford in contention.

However, Limerick continued to have an edge throughout the second-half to book a place in the last four with Waterford now facing a league quarter-final next weekend.

The league champions led by 1-08 to 0-07 at the break having done most of the hurling in the opening half with Waterford only managing one point from play before the break.

That came from midfielder Jamie Barron with Pauric Mahony converting six of nine frees to keep Waterford in touch.

Limerick, with Cian Lynch on top in midfield and Graeme Mulcahy, David Dempsey and Aaron Gillane sharp in attack, had to be content with a four points interval advantage.

Cian Lynch tackled by Shane McNulty

The goal came seven minutes from the break when Hegarty found the net after a fine move which also involved Lynch and Dempsey to put Limerick into a commanding 1-07 to 0-04 lead.

Waterford did not panic and they hit back with three more frees from Mahony after Patrick Curran was wide with a goal chance.

Dempsey responded with his second point for Limerick after Graeme Mulcahy had earlier hit three excellent points for the league champions.

The sides swapped points three times in the third quarter before Gillane, Hegarty and Mulcahy hit points for Limerick to lead by 1-14 to 0-10 after 55 minutes.

Calum Lyons responded with a point for Waterford and while Gillane and sub Paddy O'Loughlin landed points for Limerick, Waterford got a lifeline 12 minutes from time.

Impressive sub Jack Fagan soloed through to shoot a goal and reduce the margin to 1-16 to 1-11 as the crowd of 9,087 got set for a tight finish.

But Hegarty landed another point to take his total to 1-03 and Gillane had a goal effort turned over the bar by Shaun O’Brien to lead by seven with as many minutes remaining.

Waterford kept plugging away but Hegarty was superb as they eased to the semi-finals.

Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Barry Nash, Mike Casey, Aaron Costello; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Dan Morrissey; Cian Lynch, Kyle Hayes; Gearoid Hegarty (1-05), David Reidy (0-01), Conor Boylan; Aaron Gillane (0-07, 0-05f), David Dempsey (0-02), Graeme Mulcahy (0-04). Subs: Sean Finn for Costello (38), Paddy O’Loughlin (0-01) for Byrnes (44), Brian Ryan for Boylan (66), Robbie Hanley (0-01) for Hayes (69).

Waterford: Shaun O’Brien; Conor Gleeson, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Calum Lyons (0-01), Iarlaith Daly (0-01), Tom Barron; Jamie Barron (0-02), Mark O’Brien; MJ Sutton, Pauric Mahony (0-07, 0-06f), Neil Montgomery; Patrick Curran, Stephen Bennett (0-03, 0-02f), Jack Prendergast. Subs: Jack Fagan (1-00) for O’Brien (31), Peter Hogan (0-01) for Sutton (34), Mikey Kearney for Prendergast (52), Billy Power (0-01) for Curran (55), Darragh Lyons (0-01) for Daly (65).

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow).