Waterford earn some revenge with first win over Limerick since 2016
Jack Fagan’s goal proves key as Liam Cahill’s side grind down 14-man All-Ireland winners
Tempers flare during Waterford’s win over Limerick. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Waterford 1-22 Limerick 0-21
Goals win matches. Waterford made the one count for everything here, putting a reverse on the result of last year’s Munster and All-Ireland final in the process.
Manager Liam Cahill had made little secret of his desire for Waterford to show up and stand up against Limerick, and his team delivered on both counts: the gently beaming smile afterwards confirmed as much.
Jack Fagan’s goal after 54 minutes wasn’t the only turning point of the game, although Waterford certainly drove home the win from there, the four-point salute hard earned and well deserved. Pity the home support weren’t here to witness their first win over Limerick anywhere since 2016.
After going unbeaten all last year, the All-Ireland champions are now five months into this year without their first win. Their bigger problem here was discipline, full forward Seamus Flanagan shown a straight red card on 40 minutes for an on-the-ball incident with Conor Gleeson, brought to the attention of match referee Paud O’Dwyer by one of his umpires. They finished with 13 men after Kyle Hayes was also straight red-carded for the messy melee that spilled over onto the sideline just as time was running out.
It took a while for Waterford to maximise the extra man, and truth is they only put Limerick away in the last 10 minutes that to some inspiring scores from Jamie Barron, Austin Gleeson and replacement Patrick Curran, who made a brilliant contribution: three touches, three points.
“Yeah, it’s important, let’s be honest about it,” said Cahill. “Whatever about the result, it was important that we came down here, into our own field, and gave a really good account of ourselves. After a slowish start, a lot of silly errors, we settled down to play well. Having said that, you can’t but acknowledge the advantage of having the extra man after the sending off of the Limerick player, all in all great to get the win but we’re not getting carried away with ourselves either.
“I’ve always said that if this team is to progress and try to win silverware, we’re going to have to be raising green flags, that’s part and parcel of the next couple of matches, to keep practising that and hopefully it’ll come right when the time comes for championship.
“Limerick are serious opposition, even down to 14 men they were never going away, they always looked like they could get something out of the game. Limerick have lots of big names to come back. No Gearoid Hegarty today, there was only Will O’Donoghue for maybe 20 minutes, so no one is going to be under any illusions here as to who is still the front-runners for this year.”
Indeed if John Kiely is in any way worried about back-to-back defeats he’s now showing it. Flanagan was a costly loss, and they still had the better of Waterford up until Fagan’s goal, which he deftly flicked into the net after a searching ball by Stephen Bennett, putting Waterford in front for the first time, 1-14 to 0-16.
Limerick had a couple of half-goal chances, Kiely still adamant his team are building nicely towards the high summer: “They got a really good goal which gave them that momentum going into the last 10 minutes, he said. “They’re a good momentum side, when they have it in Walsh Park, it’s very difficult to turn it around.
“Of course we’d like to have a win, but we’re in a competitive group. I know we’re making great strides and we’re very happy with the progress we’re making. In terms of our performance levels I’m strongly of the opinion that we’re going in the direction. We still have a lot of work to do but we have five weeks to get it right and we will.
“The first sending off did put us under a lot of pressure, Waterford are a side that would make good use of an extra man in a situation like that but I thought we coped admirably.”
Waterford did have to carry out some running repairs to the game, struggling to in any breaking ball in the first half, with Limerick up five points at the break, 0-13 to 0-8, Aaran Gillane claiming six placed scores by then, Flanagan also scoring twice in open space before seeing red.
Cahill started all three Bennett brothers from Ballysaggart, Shane, Kieran and Stephen all three scoring by half-time, with Stephen’s placed-ball tally finishing on seven, with one from play: he also played a smart free short back to Gleeson, operating at centre back, in the 68th, which he duly fired over from long range to keep that late momentum going.
In truth the second half was crying out for a goal, and Fagan’s effort came not long after Limerick had pushed three points clear again, coping well with being a man down.
Waterford keep driving from deep, thanks to full back Conor Prunty and the excellent Calum Lyons, who scored three points. Kiely reacted to some incidents in the second half with both arms raised aloft in frustration, only in end he wasn’t looking back. What he said after Galway last week was certainly forgotten about, he said, the result of this however possible spilling over into the Munster championship.
Waterford: B Nolan; C Lyons (0-3), C Prunty, S Keating; Shane Bennett (0-1, free), A Gleeson (0-1), K Bennett (0-2); I Daly (0-1), J Barron (0-1); J Fagan (1-0), C Gleeson, J Dillon; D Hutchinson, Stephen Bennett (0-8, five frees, 2 65m), J Prendergast (0-2). Subs: K Moran for Keating (28 mins), M Kiely for Shane Bennett, DJ Foran for K Bennett (both 51 mins), P Curran (0-3) for Hutchinson (54 mins), B Power for Fagan (63 mins), P Hogan for Dillon (70 mins)
Limerick: N Quaid; S Finn, D Morrisey, R English; M Quinlan, D Hannon (0-1), K Hayes (0-1); D O’Donovan (0-1), R Hanley; T Morrisey (0-3, one free, one 65), C Lynch (0-1), C Boylan; A Gillane (0-11, 10 frees, one 65), S Flanagan (0-2), P Casey (0-1). Subs: W O’Donoghue for Hanley (43 mins), J Considine for Reidy (54 mins), B Nash for Quinlan (55 mins), C O’Neill for Casey, P Ryan for Gillane (both 66 mins), A Costello for D Morrisey (71 mins)
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Waterford)