Waterford won a thrilling encounter with Limerick by 4-17 to 3-15 in the semi final of the minor Munster hurling championship. A hat trick from Steve Bennett was crucial for the Deise, who needed extra time to see off their rivals.
Waterford made an electric start to the match, scoring 3-3 in a hectic first ten minutes. Steve Bennett scored two goals for the Deise, as they threatened to run away with the match.
Limerick struggled to make an impression on the scoreboard for the majority of the first half, scoring a mere three points in the opening 27 minutes. Two minutes before half time, however, Limerick forward Kevin O’Brien followed up a blocked shot and smashed the sliotar into the back of the Waterford net. Shane Dowling added a late free from 21 yards out to reduce the Waterford lead to 3-7 to 1-4 at the interval.
Limerick were a completely different outfit after the break, while Waterford’s performance fell flat. Limerick outscored the Deise by 1-7 to 0-1 in the opening 18 minutes of the second half to level the scores. Carey scored four points in the period, while Kevin O’Brien scored his second goal of the match.
Waterford responded terrifically, however, as Steve Bennett completed his hat trick in the 49th minute. The Deise forward made a great run from the Limerick 21 yard line and finished with aplomb. The Waterford goalkeeper then made a fantastic save to deny an immediate response.
Limerick weren’t to be denied for long, as Mark Carmody scored a goal to sensationally level the scores again. Limerick took the lead for the first time in the match in the 52nd minute and extended their lead to three points with five minutes left to play.
Limerick were in the ascendency, but Waterford fought back bravely. Substitute Peter Keefe equalised with a 58th minute point to send the game into extra time. Limerick had a couple of late chances, but could only manage to hit two wides.
Stamina became an issue in extra time, as players began to suffer from cramp. Waterford took control of the match and scored five unanswered points in the first period of extra time, with Jake Dillon doing the majority of the damage.
The Deise moved into a six point lead in the second period, as Limerick battled gamely to score a goal. Limerick hit the bar and forward Mark Carmody had a free saved on the line, but limerick could only manage a solitary point.
Limerick can be proud of an impressive comeback, but ultimately, Waterford ran out 4-17 to 3-15 winners. The Deise now face Clare in the Munster final.