Back at the business end of the camogie championship for the first time in almost a decade, Limerick's under-16 team never quite matched their early season form when going down in Sunday's All-Ireland B final in Nenagh. Final score WATERFORD 4-11 LIMERICK 1-3
After going behind to an early Waterford goal, they were hit by a scoring burst coming up to the break that a spirited second-half display couldn't quite overcome before the opponents' late scores gave them a flattering margin of victory.
Taking to the field as underdogs against opponents who have been tasting success in all competitions at underage, this was a disappointing end to Limerick's campaign that began with a surprise qualification for the Munster A final.
Caught for size in a number of key positions, they could never create enough chances from open play and, even when they did, they lacked a finisher like Alannah O'Sullivan who, along with stand-in centre-back Máiréad O'Brien, dominated the hour.
Just two scores from play was never going to be enough on an afternoon when even their free-taking stuttered. O'Sullivan's first-minute '45' opened the scoring as Waterford dominated the early exchanges and she added a free before setting off on a solo and offloading to Rachel Walsh to crash to the net.
Although Nadine White sent over a free in reply, Limerick's forwards struggled to open space for the scoring chances as they were crowded out by the bigger Déise defensive unit.
When O'Sullivan punished another foul, Limerick were in danger of being tailed off with just ten minutes up on the clock before a long White free was plucked from the air by Megan Walsh who turned to drive past the reach of Elena Gallagher. However, they were unable to build on the goal as Waterford, despite failing to finish from play, drew another two frees for O'Sullivan to convert.
White replied with her second free but, after Aoibhinn O'Grady struck Waterford's first point from open play, Limerick's cause was dealt another body blow when Rhona Drohan stole in behind the full-back line to collect O'Brien's long free and cleanly strike past Ciara Mulqueen.
O'Sullivan then found her range from play and two strike before the break stretched the lead to 2-8 to 1-2. Limerick missed a pair of scorable frees to move back into contact before O'Sullivan struck again to open the second-half scoring. Ella Hession replied with the only other score of the third quarter as play bogged down in the midfield trenches until Alisha Flynn's goal off a barnstorming run unleashed a late Waterford flurry.
After Áine O'Neill's point, her midfield partner Kelsie Obanya whipped a long ball to the net before O'Neill goaled on the run to close off the scoring.
SCORERS, WATERFORD: Alannah O'Sullivan 0-8 (4 frees, 1 '45'), Áine O'Neill 1-1, Rhona Drohan, Alisha Flynn, Kelsie Obanya 1-0 each, Rachel Walsh, Aoibhinn O'Gady 0-1 each; LIMERICK: Megan Walsh 1-0, Nadie White 0-2 (2 frees), Ella Hession 0-1.
WATERFORD: Elena Gallagher (Gailltir); Dara Fitzgerald (Gailltir), Laoise Forrest (Gailltir), Helen Connolly (Ferrybank); Aoife Hartley (Gailltir), Mairéad O'Brien (Modeligo), Maeve Sheridan (Gailltir); Áine O'Neill (Brickey Rangers), Kelsie Obanya (Tramore); Aoibhinn O'Grady (Abbeyside-Ballinacourty), Alannah O'Sullivan (Gailltír), Ellen Boylan (Portlaw); Alannah McNulty (De La Salle), Rhona Drohan (Modeligo), Rachel Walsh (Butlerstown). SUBS:Alisha Flynn (Gailltír) for Rhona Drohan (37 minutes), Natashe Dobbyn for Aoibhinn O'Grady (49 minutes), Caoimhe Forrest (Gailltír) for Laoise Forrest (55 minutes), Ruth O'Regan (Portlaw) for Alanna McNulty (58 minutes), Chloe Power (Gailltír) for Helen Connolly (60 minutes).
LIMERICK: Ciara Mulqueen (Crecoraa); Leah Twomey (Granagh-Ballingarry), Clíodhna Ryan (Doon), Áine Herbert (Ahane); Máire Butler (Adare), Emma Kennedy (Doon), Niam Moloney (Monaleen)[ Nadine White (Ballyagran), Aoife Nelligan (Monaleen); Fiona Herbert (Ahane), Teresa Dore (Charleville), Ella Hession (Monaleen); Sinéad Barry (Parteen), Megan Walsh (Bruff), Olivia Kearns (Ballybrown).
SUBS: Alice O'Callaghan (Granagh-Ballingarry) for Sinéad Barry (half-time), Laura Stokes (Doon) for Fiona Herbert (57 minutes)
REFEREE: John Horgan (Cork).