Limerick weather Waterford storm

Limerick hurling manager John Kiely.

LIMERICK stretched their unbeaten championship run to 16 after withstanding a torrid challenge from Waterford in their 2023 Munster Opener at Semple Stadium, Thurles yesterday. 

John Kiely’s side had been rated as certainties to win out the provincial championship for the fifth year in succession, but on the basis of the weekends’ performance that now is far from clear-cut.  

Yes, Limerick were at a numerical disadvantage for half-an-hour (following the sending-off of Gearóid Hegarty) but the reigning All-Ireland and Munster Champions appeared far from indestructible in this 1-18 to 0-19 victory.

“I suppose we’re relieved to get the result and the two points on the board,” was Kiely’s quick response to the media afterwards.

“That’s what today was about really. The first day in the championship is a really pressurised day, because if you lose it puts you on the back foot. So, delighted with the result. Performance-wise. Mixed. There were times when we were in control, but there were other times when we weren’t. Energy-wise, I would like to have seen a bit more from the guys at times.”

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Hegarty picked-up two yellow cards so won’t miss Saturday night’s game with Clare (beaten by Tipperary, 5-22 to 3-23 yesterday) at the Gaelic Grounds. 

Limerick captain Declan Hannon retired early with an unspecified injury and his weekend availability is in doubt. Hannon missed much of the league through a gash on his finger, and the final itself with a bout of flu. 

Waterford were hit in the opening-half by a season-ending Achilles injury  sustained by Tadhg de Búrca

Waterford were left to rue a huge amount of missed opportunities, that if were converted would have created a massive early championship upset.