GAA Editor @BrianGBarry
Limerick 1-24 Waterford 0-19: Treaty assert dominance with league win
Last Updated: 31/03/19 4:30pm
Other than Kilkenny and Cork, no team has defended the All-Ireland title since 1988, but it would take a brave man to bet against Limerick in this form, after a comprehensive 1-24 to 0-19 league final win over Waterford at Croke Park.
John Kiely's charges ended a 22-year wait for an Allianz Hurling League title, and did so in some style as they ran out eight-point winners over the Deise.
Limerick got off to a flying start, bursting into a 0-8 to 0-2 lead. The Waterford backs were struggling to deal with man of the match Aaron Gillane, despite Noel Connors being a spare man at the back. The Patrickswell club man was proving a handful, before Paraic Fanning elected to put the Déise captain in as a straight man-marker on the rampant Limerick forward.
The Treaty could have been further ahead, were it not for a courageous save from Stephen O'Keeffe who put his body on the line to deny Gillane. Waterford had a goal chance of their own, but Stephen Bennett's shot was a tame one, causing Nickie Quaid minimal fuss.
Waterford settled as the half wore on, and Stephen Bennett's 28th minute free reduced the deficit to just one - 0-9 to 0-8.
However, the Treaty then landed the first significant blow of the bout as Gillane found himself in behind the Waterford rearguard as a long low ball from Tom Morrissey came in, and the Treaty forward flicked it past O'Keeffe.
That green flag helped Limerick into a 1-12 to 0-10 lead at the break, having enjoyed the stiff breeze at their backs.
While many anticipated a Déise fightback in the second half, it was the All-Ireland champions who kicked on. Peter Casey added two points, while Cian Lynch, Gearóid Hegarty, Declan Hannon, Shane Dowling and Seamus Flanagan all contributed to keep Waterford at bay.
Indeed, it could have been a far wider margin at the death, were it not for 15 Limerick wides, and Tom Morrissey's spurned goal chance in the 56th minute, fumbling a pass from Gillane when he was in one-on-one on the Waterford goal. Ultimately, it wasn't needed, as Kiely's bench saw out the result.
It's only the springtime, but Limerick are looking like serious contenders to keep the Liam MacCarthy Cup on Shannon-side for another year.
Meanwhile, Waterford will lick their wounds ahead of their championship opener against Clare on May 12.
Referee: James Owens (Wexford)
Scorers for Limerick: Aaron Gillane 1-9 (0-4 frees), Peter Casey 0-3, Gearóid Hegarty 0-3, Shane Dowling 0-2 (0-1 free), Cian Lynch 0-2, Darragh O'Donovan 0-1 (0-1 side-line), Declan Hannon 0-1, Tom Morrissey 0-1, Graeme Mulcahy 0-1, Séamus Flanagan 0-1.
Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 0-9 (0-6 frees), Pauric Mahony 0-5 (0-4 frees), Austin Gleeson 0-2 (0-1 side-line), Philip Mahony 0-1, Kevin Moran 0-1, Michael Walsh 0-1.
1. Nickie Quaid
2. Tom Condon
3. Seán Finn
4. Richie English
5. Diarmaid Byrnes
6. Declan Hannon
7. Dan Morrissey
8. Cian Lynch
9. Darragh O'Donovan
10. Gearóid Hegarty
11. Kyle Hayes
12. Tom Morrissey
13. Aaron Gillane
14. Peter Casey
15. Graeme Mulcahy
Mike Casey for Tom Condon (half-time)
Seamus Flanagan for Graeme Mulcahy (56th minute)
Barry Murphy for Aaron Gillane (64th minute)
Shane Dowling for Tom Morrissey (64th minute)
Paddy O'Loughlin for Declan Hannon (69th minute)
1. Stephen O'Keeffe
2. Shane McNulty
3. Calum Lyons
4. Noel Connors
5. Philip Mahony
6. Tadhg de Búrca
7. Kevin Moran
8. Jamie Barron
24. Michael Walsh
10. Austin Gleeson
11. Mikey Kearney
12. Pauric Mahony
15. Shane Bennett
14. Stephen Bennett
13. Peter Hogan
Jack Prendergast for Michael Walsh (half-time)
Thomas Ryan for Shane Bennett (47th minute)
Conor Prunty for Calum Lyons (48th minute)
Patrick Curran for Peter Hogan (56th minute)
Stephen Roche for Mikey Kearney (60th minute)