Monday 23 October 2017

Limerick rise above crowd chaos to end 29-year famine

Limerick 1-20 Waterford 4-8

Limerick captain Richard English lifts the cup after winning the Munster MHC final replay
Limerick captain Richard English lifts the cup after winning the Munster MHC final replay

LIMERICK claimed the provincial title in a dramatic encounter that began amid chaotic scenes, with throw-in delayed by 10 minutes due to crowd congestion.

Munster MHC final replay

LIMERICK claimed the provincial title in a dramatic encounter that began amid chaotic scenes, with throw-in delayed by 10 minutes due to crowd congestion.

Thousands of fans arrived late to Thurles and many of them streamed across the pitch to gain access to the Old Stand before play got under way. There were still fans on the pitch when the national anthem was being played.

When the dust eventually settled on an eventful evening, Limerick were crowned champions for the first time since 1984 – as not even a hat-trick of goals from Stephen Bennett could save Waterford.

In the process, Limerick secured a first minor-senior Munster double since 1940.

In an incredible second half, the pendulum swung one way and then the other before three late points from Ronan Lynch, David Dempsey and Pat Ryan wrapped up the win.

Limerick now march on to an All-Ireland semi-final against the winners of the Galway-Laois quarter-final, with Waterford facing a quick turnaround with Sunday's quarter-final against Antrim at Parnell Park next on the agenda.

Levelled

At half-time, Limerick led by 1-7 to 2-2, in front of 6,532 spectators. Bennett's second goal tied the game at 3-3 to 1-9, before Waterford moved three points clear. Limerick then took over after that and outscored their opponents by 0-9 to 0-2 to establish a three-point lead, before Bennett's third goal, a 20-metre free, with three minutes remaining, levelled proceedings once again at 4-8 to 1-17.

Fans arriving for the rematch did so anticipating another close encounter after the sides had played out a thrilling 2-19 apiece draw nine days previously.

When the game finally got under way, Limerick raced into a 0-5 to 0-0 lead.

Waterford were struggling, but their opening score, Bennett's first goal in the 17th minute, ignited them. They struck for a second goal six minutes later when Patrick Curran fed Adam Farrell for a close range finish and led 2-2 to 0-6.

But Cian Lynch got a goal back before the break, setting the scene for a dramatic second half.

Scorers – Limerick: R Lynch 0-6 (5fs), C Lynch 1-2, T Morrissey, B Nash, P Ryan 0-3 each, D Dempsey 0-2, D Coleman 0-1. Waterford: Stephen Bennett 3-2 (1-0f), A Farrell 1-0, P Curran 0-3 (1f), C Curran 0-2, C Gleeson 0-1.

LIMERICK – C Ryan; R English, S Cahill, S Finn; A La Touche Cosgrave, R Lynch, S Flanagan; J Butler, D O'Donovan; D Dempsey, B Nash, C Lynch; D Coleman, T Morrissey, P Ryan.

Subs: E Doyle for Coleman (30), M Casey for Cahill (39), L Lyons for Butler (53), D Coleman for Doyle (58).

WATERFORD – G Power; C Leamy, K Daly, W Hahessy; Shane Bennett, A Gleeson, T Devine; M Kearney, M Harney; A Farrell, P Curran, DJ Foran; C Roche, Stephen Bennett, C Gleeson. Subs: C Curran for Roche (29), MJ Sutton for Devine (49).

Ref – J O'Brien (Tipperary).

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