Late Mullane goal dashes Limerick’s final hopes
LIMERICK seemed on course for a famous win at Semple Stadium yesterday and a date in the Munster SHC final when up stepped Waterford’s John Mullane to break their hearts with a last gasp goal to secure a 3-15 to 3-14 win.
Mullane has scored many important goals but none more so than this effort which rescued Davy Fitzgerald’s team and put them in the final on July 10.
Limerick appeared poised for victory when Waterford stalwart Eoin Kelly, who had come as a sub a few minutes earlier, saw his 69th-minute 25m free blocked, leaving Waterford two points behind as the game ticked into stoppage-time.
However, in a follow-up attack, Kelly delivered a crossfield pass to Mullane, who drove an angled shot for goal which took a deflection past goalkeeper Nicky Quaid.
Waterford were back in front and while Limerick had possession over the remaining two minutes, they couldn’t get in the crucial strike which might have yielded a draw.
It did not look like Waterford would need such late heroics in the first half when they dominated play for long stretches. It was Mullane who struck the first real blow when he slipped his marker Tom Condon and blasted the ball to the net after 13 minutes.
Limerick responded positively enough to this set-back by clipping over a couple of points, but Waterford then hit four in a row themselves to move 1-7 to 0-4 ahead.
Limerick wing-back Wayne McNamara responded by scoring a cracking goal to haul his team back into the contest.
Limerick were re-energised now, and the final five minutes of the half were much more closely contested as the teams shared a couple of points apiece to leave the score reading 1-9 to 1-6 in Waterford’s favour at the break.
Limerick soon overhauled the deficit with full-forward Kevin Downes scoring a brilliant goal.
A see-saw battle then commenced, with Limerick looking like taking the spoils before Mullane pounced.