Limerick have beaten Waterford by 0-30 to 0-19 in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final at Croke Park.
John Kiely’s men claimed the Liam MacCarthy Cup for the second time in three years with a dominant and ruthless display in Dublin, scoring a remarkable 24 of their 30 points from play.
Limerick led by 0-14 to 0-11 at the interval and used their experience and power to pull away from the Déise in the second half.
Limerick, who defeated Waterford in the Munster final earlier this year, end the 2020 season with a perfect record of 10 wins from 10.
Captain Declan Hannon lifted the cup in the stands as the players celebrated the county’s ninth All-Ireland title on the pitch.
Waterford, on the other hand, have now lost four finals since their last All-Ireland triumph in 1959.
Liam Cahill’s side have made huge improvements this year, and the semi-final comeback against Kilkenny will live long in the memory, but this was a step too far for the Déise.
Tom Morrissey recorded the game’s first point within a minute, before Jack Fagan came close to bagging an early goal for Waterford at the other end, only to see his effort whistle wide.
Seamus Flanagan doubled the Treaty’s lead, before Waterford drew level through a brace of Stephen Bennett frees.
Morrisey restored Limerick’s advantage with his second point, before Aaron Gillane got on the scoresheet with an excellent effort from out wide, before adding a free to make it 0-5 to 0-2.
In the 13th minute, Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe made a sensational double save to prevent a Limerick goal, parrying Gillane’s low strike before reacting in the blink of an eye to block the rebound.
Austin Gleeson chipped in with his first point, and Bennett added another score, but Limerick added two more of their own through Will O’Donoghue and Declan Hannon.
Limerick led by 0-8 to 0-4 at the water break, and Waterford suffered a huge blow in the 22nd minute when Tadhg de Burca suffered a knee injury and had to be replaced by Iarlaith Daly.
Gearoid Hegarty and Kyle Hayes added to the Treaty’s growing lead, with Gleeson pulling a point back for Cahill’s men with a stunning sideline cut.
Kieran Bennett and Stephen Bennett further reduced the deficit, before the brilliant Morrissey split the posts with another excellent effort.
Bennett and Gillane traded points before Hegarty sent over his second of the half to send Limerick six points clear in the 33rd minute.
Bennett notched his seventh free to keep Waterford within touching distance, with Gleeson drilling over his third point late in the half to cut Limerick’s lead down to 0-14 to 0-11.
Limerick made a blistering start to the second half, grabbing the first four points of the second period through Seamus Flanagan (two), Hegarty and Gillane.
Bennett and the rampaging Hegarty traded points, before Hegarty added another and Dessie Hutchison popped up with his first point of the final.
Morrissey and Kevin Moran cancelled out each other’s scores before a lovely effort from Calum Lyons increased Limerick’s lead to six points in the 47th minute.
Hegarty soon produced his sixth point from play, and Kiely’s men led by 0-24 to 0-15 after Gillane’s free sailed over the bar in the 51st minute.
Waterford pulled one back through Bennett, but two Gillane frees kept the challengers comfortably at bay.
Gleeson scored another point before another beautiful score from Gillane at the other end.
Bennett and Gleeson kept Waterford’s faint and fading hopes alive, but man-of-the-match Hegarty responded with his seventh point of the game, with Pat Ryan and Pat Ryan also splitting the posts for the Munster champions.
In the 72nd minute, Morrissey recorded his fifth point of the game to make it 0-30 to 0-19.
“It’s incredible that we have an All-Ireland in December! It’s a little bitter-sweet without the fans, but the most thing is that inside the white lines, nothing changes,” Hegarty said afterwards.
“It’ll be a great Christmas. I found it incredibly hard to keep training over lockdown, ifs and buts over the championship, what kept me going was the thoughts of winning an All-Ireland.”
A beaming Kiely voiced his pride in his players, and described Limerick’s triumph as an incredible achievement.
“It took so long to win the one in 2018, it was great, but we’re back and we took our opportunities,” he said.
“I’m very very proud of the boys, it is an incredible achievement.”
Limerick: Nicky Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes (0-01), Declan Hannon (0-01), Kyle Hayes (0-01); Darragh O’Donovan, William O’Donoghue (0-01); Gearoid Hegarty (0-07), Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey (0-05); Aaron Gillane (0-10, 6f), Seamus Flanagan (0-03), Graeme Mulcahy.
Subs: Peter Casey for Mulcahy (49), David Reidy for O’Donovan (59), Pat Ryan (0-01) for Flanagan (66), Adrian Breen for Gillane (68) Paddy O’Loughlin for Hayes (71).
Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe; Ian Kenny, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Calum Lyons, Tadhg de Búrca, Kevin Moran (0-01); Jamie Barron, Kieran Bennett (0-01); Jack Fagan, Neil Montgomery, Stephen Bennett (0-10, 9f); Dessie Hutchinson (0-01), Austin Gleeson (0-05, 1 s-l, 1f), Jack Prendergast.
Subs: Iarlaith Daly for De Búrca (21), Darragh Lyons for K Bennett (40), Conor Gleeson for Montgomery (44), Patrick Curran for Moran (52), Shane Fives for Kenny (55).
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