CAMOGIE: Limerick vs Waterford (Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Quarter-Final Preview)
Saturday, July 16, Semple Stadium
Limerick v Waterford, 3.15pm (John Dermody, Westmeath), Live on RTÉ 2 (Pictured is Waterford’s Lorraine Bray and Marian Quaid of Limerick ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)
This tie pits two teams against one another that recovered from subdued starts to build real momentum, including having to pull out all the stops in the final game of the round-robin series to make it through.
While Waterford are old hands of this stage of the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Championship, there have been a lot of changes in personnel from when they made the initial breakthrough under the stewardship of Donal O’Rourke in 2018. Having three different management set-ups in three seasons hasn’t helped continuity but Derek Lyons is in his second term now and has brought a good blend of youth and experience to the Déise.
Beth Carton, Niamh Rockett and captain Lorraine Bray are All-Stars, while Brianna O’Regan is acknowledged as a brilliant shot-stepper and among the premier goalies in the land. Abby Flynn is really beginning to make her presence felt now having been handed her debut by Fergal O’Brien as a teenager, while Mairéad O’Brien and Clodagh Carroll are other youngsters who have made major contributions through the summer.
Waterford were unable to make it out of a hugely competitive Division 2 of the Littlewoods Ireland National League and then began their championship campaign with a two-point defeat to Dublin at Walsh Park. An 18-point demolition of a Wexford team that defeated them in the Division 2 semi-final sparked a revival in fortunes however, and subsequent wins over Tipperary and Clare, either side of a six-point defeat to last year’s All-Ireland finalists Cork secured the runners-up position.
Limerick have had even more significant turnover in recent years, navigating not just the retirement of one of their greatest players Niamh Mulcahy after they last reached the quarter-final, in 2019, but also the unavailability of a number of other talented operators for a variety of reasons. John Lillis stepped up as manager this year having been a selector under Pat Ryan. The former Tipp boss also brought in Declan Nash, himself an ex-Limerick boss.
The League was a disaster and they were relegated to Division 2 with a whimper, losing by 13 points to Offaly in the play-off. In the circumstances, having to face Galway and Kilkenny in the first two games of the championship was hardly ideal and they lost both on an aggregate score of 5-32 to 1-13. A rematch with Offaly was next up and chiselling out a two-point victory over the midlanders flicked the switch for Limerick as they accounted for Down before leaving Dunloy with the vital victory over Antrim to claim their last-six berth.
Caoimhe Costelloe has been phenomenal for Limerick from frees and play and scored 2-10 of her side’s 2-11 in their five-point win over Down. The vastly experienced former skipper Lorraine McCarthy has had a considerable impact since returning to the fold and relocating from full-back to full-forward. Marian Quaid has the armband now and along with Muireann Creamer, is a resolute defensive presence. Neamh Curtin, Niamh Ryan and Rebecca Delee are other important cogs in the wheel.
Waterford have had the upper hand in recent battles and will be favourites given their superior experience to make a first ever senior semi-final. But Limerick are on a roll and possess enough tools to make their own mark.
LIMERICK: C Keating, S Woulfe, M Creamer, M Quaid (capt), M Ryan, S O’Callaghan, N Curtin, A Larkin, N Ryan, M Curtin, R Delee, C Costelloe, C Lyons, L McCarthy, S O’Brien. Subs: C Mulqueen, A Coughlan, A Nelligan, E Kennedy, C Brennan, E Harrington, E Doolan, A Morrissey, L Boylan, N White, C Ryan, O Kelleher, L Fennelly, T Dore, L O’Neill
WATERFORD: B O’Regan, K Corbett Barry, I Heffernan, M Power, O Hickey, C Carroll, A Landers, L Bray (capt), C Griffin, A Flynn, B Carton, M O’Brien, R Walsh, R Kirwan, N Rockett. Subs: M Foran, S Lacey, T Power, C O’Sullivan, A O’Sullivan, A Hartley, H Flynn, E Curran, A Gallagher, A Mackintosh, C Farrelly, V O’Brien