Limerick capitalise on Scanlon heroics
There was nothing to suggest at half-time at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday that this was going to turn into a stroll for Limerick as just a point separated the sides.
But the game turned two minutes after the restart when Limerick goalkeeper Brian Scanlon saved a penalty from Mark Ferncombe. Waterford did not score after that and Limerick tacked on 1-7 to ease into a semi-final showdown with Clare on June 9.
"It was a big moment all right. It was a great save by Brian Scanlon," said Limerick manager Maurice Horan afterwards.
"We were sickened when we saw the referee awarding a penalty. But Brian got himself organised, he had a minute or two. I won't say he did a Petr Cech on it but he saved it. It was a turning point for us."
Waterford kicked all of their scores from play in the opening half but failed to register a single score after the restart and, aside from the penalty miss, they also shot eight wides in the second half.
"At the end of the day we had opportunities to close the gap in the last 10 minutes but that didn't happen. It is very difficult," reflected Waterford boss John Owens. "It was one of those days we felt if we could get within striking distance, but we had that in the first half and we didn't push on and that was disappointing."
He will face a difficult task getting them ready for the qualifiers but they gave as good as they got in the opening half but in Ian Ryan, who finished with 1-7, Limerick had a match winner.
Waterford's collapse was not evident in the opening half in front of a crowd of 2,431 and Limerick led by 1-5 to 0-7 at the break after both sides picked off some fine scores.
The crucial score of the opening period was a goal after 19 minutes from Seamus O'Carroll when Waterford goalkeeper Kieran Cotter failed to deal with a swirling high ball from the right by Paul Kinnerk. It broke kindly for Eoghan O'Connor and he set up O'Carroll who blasted to the roof of the net.
The sides were deadlocked at 0-3 each when O'Carroll struck, with Waterford racing into an early lead thanks to points from JJ Hutchinson and Ferncombe.
Ryan landed his third free before O'Carroll blasted to the net but the Waterford response to the goal was good, with Hutchinson getting his second point before Tony Grey reduced the margin to the minimum seven minutes from the break when he again went forward to score.
The game turned when Ian Corbett brought down Grey two minutes after the restart but Ferncombe's miss from the resultant penalty was crucial.
Within a minute, Ryan turned the screw with a Limerick point and Waterford never looked like recovering. The O'Gorman twins, Maurice and Thomas, were both booked as Waterford struggled to contain a rejuvenated Limerick attack.
Ryan pointed both frees following the bookings to open up a 1-8 to 0-7 lead after 56 minutes and there really was only going to be one winner after that.
Limerick manager Horan introduced Stephen Kelly and the Newcastle West man looked sharp, picking off a good point and was full of running.
Ger Collins also finished the game strongly and shot two points as Waterford's day of woe got worse.
Appropriately, it was Ryan who finished the contest in style when he worked his way in from the left and gave Cotter no chance with a rocket to the roof of the net to set up a semi-final clash with Clare as they bid to reach the Munster final for the third time in four years.
They will go to Cusack Park with plenty of confidence, especially if their injury situation continues to improve, but it looks like being another short summer for Waterford.
Scorers -- Limerick: I Ryan 1-7 (6f), S O'Carroll 1-1, G Collins 0-2, J Cooke, I Corbett 0-1 each. Waterford: T Grey, M Ferncombe, JJ Hutchinson 0-2 each, S Ahearne 0-1.
Limerick -- B Scanlon 8; J McCarthy 7, P Browne 7, L O'Dwyer 6; S Lavin 6, J Riordan 7, P Ranahan 6; T Lee 7, P Kinnerk 7; S Buckley 6, G Collins 7, E Barry 6; E O'Connor 7, S O'Carroll 7, I Ryan 8. Subs: I Corbett 6 for Barry (33), J O'Meara 6 for Kinnerk (48), S Kelly 7 for O'Carroll (56), J Cooke 6 for Lee (62), S Lucey 6 for Ranahan (68).
Waterford -- K Cotter 6; K Connery 6, T O'Gorman 7, M O'Gorman 7; T Grey 7, S Briggs 6, C O'Keeffe 5; S Ahearne 6, S O'Hare 5; JJ Hutchinson 7, S Dempsey 5, P Hurney 5; M Ferncombe 6, W Hennessy 7, T Prendergast 6. Subs: L O Lionain 6 for Prendergast (35), J Veale 6 for Ferncombe (59), P Whyte 6 for Hurney (59), S Fleming 6 for Hutchinson (59), A Doyle 6 for M O'Gorman (69). Ref -- C Lane (Cork)