'We've a lot to find out about ourselves' - Kiely
Limerick 0-24 Waterford1-14
Life under John Kiely started with a win, but the 2015 All-Ireland U-21 winning manager is under no illusions about the task he faces if Limerick are to consistently compete with the big boys again.
Since taking Munster honours in 2013, and giving Kilkenny an almighty All-Ireland semi-final scare 12 months later, it's been anything but rosy in the Treaty garden as they look to inject youth into an experienced squad.
The acquisition of coaching mastermind Paul Kinnerk will aid their transition - his fingerprints were all over their efficient use of possession in the second-half yesterday - but while there's great expectations, Kiely admits that they have "a long, long way to go".
"Of course there is, no more than we put on ourselves," he said when asked about the pressure at the helm.
"We want to try and push on and get better, we want to try and be comfortable playing against the better teams.
"We want to know that when you go out on the pitch you'll be there or thereabouts. It could go down to the last 10 minutes and let it be down to whoever has the mettle at that stage. But we're not there at this moment in time.
"The response has been great from the lads, but we've a lot to find out about ourselves that we don't, and probably won't, know for a while. Inevitably, you've to go through the process of playing these matches to learn.
"We're determined to enjoy it, but there's pressures that go with it. They're great lads, the atmosphere in camp is fantastic, we've great fun and we work very hard. We're determined to try and get wherever we can get. There won't be anything less than is required done, but how far that'll take us is another story."
Anyone betting in-running on the events in Fraher Field could have had a field day, as Limerick turned around an eight-point deficit to coast home.
However, with a young side peppered with U-21 All-Ireland winners, Derek McGrath was far from disappointed.
An early training session before yesterday's game saw them run out of juice in the closing period and with preparations behind on 2016, McGrath admits there's a change of tack in terms of league emphasis and the sustainability of their efforts over the past two seasons.
"We feel there might be a change to the league in 2018, so that might dictate our whole approach to it - we're putting that out there early. We're heading away to Liverpool next weekend and that's probably a month later than we went last year," McGrath said.
"If we can maintain our status in Division 1A and find a few nuggets along the way ahead of the championship, that'll be our aim."
The hosts raced into a 0-5 to nil lead, despite Billy Nolan's second-minute penalty being saved by Nickie Quaid, with Stephen Bennett, the only survivor from their All-Ireland semi-final starting 15, and DJ Foran pulling the strings in attack.
John Fitzgibbon and Alan Dempsey got the Treaty off the mark, but Bennett's delightful diagonal delivery was caught by Foran, who towered over Richie McCarthy before firing low to the net in the 18th minute.
The Déise extended their lead to eight, 1-10 to 0-5, but they wouldn't score for another 28 minutes as the visitors asserted total control. With Dempsey unerring up front and Diarmaid Byrnes prominent in defence, Kiely's side stayed in touch, closing the gap to just three at the break, 1-10 to 0-10.
It was more of the same on the resumption with 11 points in a row - 16 in total - as Dempsey ran riot, while John Fitzgibbon kept the scoreboard ticking over from placed balls to lead 0-21 to 1-10.
Nolan, unlucky to miss out on an U-21 All-Ireland medal last year after a rule change meant he was ineligible despite playing in goal the previous year, excelled outfield throughout and finally stopped the rot, but the contest was as good as over at that stage.
Scorers - Limerick: J Fitzgibbon 0-8 (6f), A Dempsey 0-7, S Tobin 0-3, D Byrnes (2f) and G Hegarty 0-2 each, D Hannon and K Hayes 0-1 each. Waterford: B Nolan 0-6 (3f), DJ Foran 1-1, M O'Neill 0-2, G O'Brien, M O'Brien, M Kearney, S Roche and C Roche 0-1 each.
Limerick - N Quaid; S O'Brien, R McCarthy, M Casey; D Byrnes, S Hickey, D Hannon; J Fitzgibbon, G O'Mahony; G Hegarty, A Dempsey, D Dempsey; S Tobin, T Morrissey, G Mulcahy. Subs: K Hayes for D Dempsey (ht), C Ryan for Morrissey (43), P Ryan for O'Mahony (49), A Gillane for Tobin (55), R English for McCarthy (66)
Waterford - I O'Regan; D Lyons, S McNulty, I Kenny; S Roche, MJ Sutton, C Prunty; M O'Brien, S Roche; B Nolan, DJ Foran, M O'Neill; G O'Brien, S Bennett, M Kearney. Subs: K Fitzgerald for Bennett, A Molumby for Roche, B O'Keeffe for Kearney and C Roche for O'Brien (all ht), C Lyons for Prunty (48)
Ref - J Ryan (Tipperary)