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comment Limerick have become a team combining fierce intelligence and a homicidal urge to destroy

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Cian Lynch, left, and David Reidy of Limerick celebrate their side's victory over Waterford

Cian Lynch, left, and David Reidy of Limerick celebrate their side's victory over Waterford

Cian Lynch, left, and David Reidy of Limerick celebrate their side's victory over Waterford

CIAN Lynch was a hurling Scorsese, a genius director summoning scenes that will endure for eternity.

Seamus Flanagan flourished his hurl like a piratical cutlass, a bearded buccaneer looting plunder at his will.

Tom Morrissey grew into the contest, a seanachai building suspense, waiting patiently to deliver his killer punchline.

Gearoid Hegarty, orange-booted but, in terms of forbidding ferocity, a silver-backed gorilla, bounded the prairie in the way only cocksure and dominant alpha males can.

Aaron Gillane was as cold-eyed as a sniper perched in some aerial hideout, each squeeze of his finger claiming another white-uniformed victim. His 55th minute goal was a final killshot, the one that stilled Waterford’s dying pulse.

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Limerick goalkeeper Nickie Quaid saves a shot on goal

Limerick goalkeeper Nickie Quaid saves a shot on goal

Limerick goalkeeper Nickie Quaid saves a shot on goal

What a truly extraordinary force Limerick have become. Immaculately choreographed, ravenous; combining fierce intelligence and a homicidal urge to destroy.

A team for the ages, one whose only rivals may be from the back-catalogue of history - notably peak-era Cody Kilkenny.

In full flow, they are a devastating wonder, their interplay clicking together like Lego pieces.

For opponents, it must feel like standing in the path of a whirlwind even as a tsunami attacks from the rear.

A unique combination of athletic grace, dazzling off-the-shoulder link-play, and salivating, cold-eyed, pit-bull hunger have set the Munster giants apart from the rest of the field.

Waterford screamed into this contest as if fired from the mouth of a canon; in the opening quarter, they scorched Croke Park with the napalm of their desire.

The Deise – in a way you could only admire - invested every droplet from the reservoir of their know-how.

Even in the third quarter, when chasing a game that had long fled from their grasp, there was a fundamental honesty to Liam Cahill’s team that would have filled their support with bone-deep pride.

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And still it was not nearly enough against a force from another planet.

The third quarter thunderbolt with which Limerick, like an angry Thor, smote Tipperary, resembled a dispatch from the heavens announcing some divine, untouchable force.

The worry for Kilkenny and Cork is that there were long periods here when they were similarly indomitable.

For 20 minutes of the Munster final, they touched perfection, showcased skills that defied the laws of nature.

An archivist could explore the entire data bank of the ancient game, one that stretches across the centuries, and not find a comparable exhibition of brilliant brutality.

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Richie English and Kyle Hayes of Limerick congratulate each other

Richie English and Kyle Hayes of Limerick congratulate each other

Richie English and Kyle Hayes of Limerick congratulate each other

Even John Kiely, a manager born to decommission hype, was a little hypnotised by the arsenal of beautiful destruction illuminating the skies over Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

This was more of a slow-burner, the Waterford fire slowly dimmed after a high-octane early eruption.

Kiely had anointed that provincial final third quarter as the strongest performance of his five year reign.

Waterford had been compelled to yield to that same destructive power and boundless athleticism seven months earlier in the final chapter of a novel winter championship.

Yet Liam Cahill’s side arrived in Croke Park with a conviction that they could floor Achilles.

And in that opening quarter they probed for that weakness in Limerick’s heel which might bring down Goliath: Good luck with that.

The canal-side palace has always been a theatre for dreamers.

Waterford brought ferocity to their task, they bounced off those Limerick skyscrapers, forced turnovers, raised their travelling hordes to a frenzy.

And still it was not enough, not remotely.

A sparkling eight days in which they brought down first Galway, then Tipperary – the pre-season second and third favourites to lift Liam McCarthy – sent a dopamine surge through Deise veins.

But Limerick’s greatness appears immune to any adrenaline surge from their foes.

And slowly, inexorably, Waterford’s afternoon shrivelled to nothing.

Dessie Hutchinson, Austin Gleeson, Jamie Barron, Conor Prunty and Calum Lyons were among those who sailed through July as if propelled by the mighty winds of Waterford’s 62-year hunger.

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Gearóid Hegarty celebrates after the final whistle

Gearóid Hegarty celebrates after the final whistle

Gearóid Hegarty celebrates after the final whistle

Here, they were stilled.

Gleeson unveiled a moment or two of trademark quality, but Limerick, after a low-throttle opening, found a gear to rival anything the game has known.

Flanagan and Morrissey were laser-guided, Michael van Gerwen with hurls instead of arrows, Lynch was reciting genius sonnets, (the trio combined for 12 points from play).

A team chasing a third All-Ireland in four seasons delivered murderous poetry.

It was at once terrifying and magnificent to behold.

In taking down Galway and Tipp, Liam Cahill’s side had twice burst from the blocks like Olympic sprinters, building up an advantage that carried them – even as they faded down the home stretch - to the tape.

Could a similar start spook the champions, remind Limerick of another Saturday night semi-final in Croke Park, two years ago when Kilkenny found a way to dismantle the Shannonside atomic bomb?

Waterford tested the theory - energy coursing through their early flourishes in irresistible waves.

In those opening exchanges, Limerick’s giants were sent backwards, buffeted in massive collisions, temporarily dizzied by the fury Waterford unleashed.

There were 24,00 in Croke Park, yet the stadium shook. It was primal, feral, magnificent.

In contrast to the free-scoring festival of earlier in the summer, the first water-break score delivered something more akin to a Premier League scoreline - 4-3 in Limerick’s favour.

Yet that opening quarter was wonderfully old-school, a microscopic examination of courage: Epic, atavistic, bone-crunching, compelling.

Critically, Waterford could not convert energy into scores. A team that converted 15 times from 16 attempts shanked eight wides, left two or three other scoreable chances short.

Stephen Bennett’s first successful free came from his fifth attempt, a minute into injury time in the opening period.

A team requiring perfection to bring down the Shannonside supremacy found their accuracy several levels below their intensity.

But that is hardly a crime when you confront a team of pulverising power, one that even the best of Brian Cody’s towering platoons might have struggled to repel.

Limerick are methodical, controlled, intimidating, pitiless, smart, savagely intense, close to the edge, immense physical specimens, a team pursing dynastic ambitions.

A superpower of all the talents, rapidly transforming Croke Park into their private pleasure dome.

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