Allianz NFL Division 4 Final – Limerick 1-16 Waterford 1-14

Limerick defeated Waterford by 1-16 to 1-14 in the Division 4 Final of the Allianz National Football League on Saturday at Croke Park.

Scanlon breaks Waterford hearts

From the GAA.ie web site

Limerick goalkeeper Brian Scanlon was the hero as Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s side claimed the Allianz GAA Football National League Division 4 title with a 1-16 to 1-14 defeat of Waterford at Croke Park on Saturday evening. With the sides level at 1-14 apiece in the 68th minute, Scanlon made a stunning save to deny Waterford’s Patrick Hurney. The rebound fell to Tommy Prendergast, but the Deise midfielder cracked his shot off a post and Waterford had missed their big chance to write a fairytale ending. Scanlon saw to that when he was called on to kick a ’45 in the final minute. His strike was true and accurate, and gave Limerick the lead by a point before the impressive Ian Ryan fisted a late point to seal the Shannonsiders’ success. Between them, Ryan and Ger Collins scored 1-11 of Limerick’s total, with Collins’ haul of 1-6 making him the stand-out player of an entertaining game.

It was harsh on impressive Waterford who trailed by five points early in the first half after Collins’ fortuitous goal in the ninth minute. The underdogs hit back, however, and kicked six successive points to trail by 1-8 to 0-10 at the break. A superb Liam O’Lionain goal after 49 minutes gave Waterford the lead which they held until the closing stages when Limerick, inspired by Scanlon, finished impressively to win by two clear points. Brian Wall opened the scoring in the fourth minute for Waterford after John Owens’ side had wasted at least three good chances in the opening exchanges. Limerick saw little of the ball in the first five minutes, but a Collins free, following their first attack, levelled the game.

Waterford, who played with the wind in the first half, were leading by 0-2 to 0-1 after Wayne Hennessy’s point, when the game was tuned on its head in the ninth minute. Collins, the Limerick wing-forward, won a ball under the Cusack Stand and swept a curling right-footed shot which appeared to be sailing over the bar. However, the shot deceived everyone, including Waterford goalkeeper Tom Wall, and dropped into the Deise net. It was a cruel blow for Waterford and O’Sullivan’s side rubbed salt into the exposed wound when Ian Ryan and Collins began to find space and Ryan was on hand to kick the next three points, as the Treaty men moved into a 1-4 to 0-2.

Conor McGrath pulled one back with a fine strike for the Deise, before Collins brought his total to 1-2 for the evening by adding another Limerick score. Tony Grey raided from defence to pull one back for Waterford, before Gary Hurney had a great goal chance. Hurney, who started the year with the county’s hurlers, took a pass from Robert Ahearne and cracked a low shot which slipped just past the post and beyond the reach of O’Lionain, who slid in at the back post. Remarkably, Waterford appeared to grow in confidence and took control of the game to kick six successive points. Niall Hennessy levelled the game in the 32nd minute before Brian Wall had them ahead just before the break.

However, Limerick finished the half impressively and Collins levelled the game before Ryan slotted over his fourth point of the half to leave them leading by 1-8 to 0-10 at the break. Points from Niall Hennessy and O’Lionain – his first of the game – had Waterford level twice after the restart. Indeed, the sides split the first six scores evenly between them before Waterford stole in for a stunning goal after 49 minutes. Mick Ahearne won the ball and fed O’Lionain, who took the ball in his stride and unleashed a sweet shot that settled in the corner of Scanlon’s net to give Waterford a 1-13 to 1-11 lead.

Limerick appeared shell-shocked by that goal, but big Jim O’Donovan shook the Shannonsiders’ from their slumber with a fine point from midfield. A Tom Wall free saw Waterford move into a two points lead once more, but Limerick, ominously, were level with eight minutes left on the clock as Ryan and substitute Eoin O’Connor found their range. Waterford wasted a glorious chance to win the game with three minute left on the clock when Patrick Hurney’s soccer-style shot produced a stunning save from Scanlon, the Limerick goalkeeper, before Prendergast cracked the rebound off the bar with the goal at his mercy. Scanlon, having made a superb save then struck a free from the 45 metre line over the bar to give Limerick a 1-15 to 1-14 lead. Ian Ryan then added a fisted score at the death to seal the win.

Limerick: B Scanlon (0-1, 0-1 ’45), M O’Riordan, C Mullane, A Lane, D Carroll, P Browne, P Ranahan (0-1), J O’Donovan (0-1), J Galvin, J Mullane, C Joyce-Power, S Buckley (0-1), G Collins (1-6, 0-3f), J Ryan, I Ryan (0-5).
Subs: S Gallagher for Carroll, S Kelly for Mullane, E O’Connor (0-1) for J Ryan, E Joy for Lane, C Fitzgerald for Joyce-Power

Waterford: T Wall, M O’Gorman, T O’Gorman, K Connery, T Grey (0-2), S Briggs, N Hennessy (0-1), T Prendergast, M Ahern, B Wall (0-5, 0-2f), C McGrath (0-1), W Hennessy (0-2), G Hurney, R Ahearne (0-1), L O’ Lionain (1-1).
Subs: P Hurney (0-1) for Ahearne, S Cunningham for W Hennessy, C Phelan for Connery, J Phelan for Prendergast, M O’Gorman for N Hennessy.

Referee: R O’Donnell (Donegal)