LIMERICK completed the perfect season in an imperfect year by adding the All-Ireland to their league and Munster titles with an outstanding display at Croke Park.
It finished Limerick 0-30 Waterford 0-19, 10 wins from 10 league and championship outings. Emphatic to say the least.
Since their comeback against Cork in the 2018 All-Ireland semi-final, the Shannonsiders have been a force of nature.
They were caught by Kilkenny in last year's semi, having already secured the league and Munster crowns. Yet they never looked like losing any game across this relentless campaign, culminating in an All-Ireland final show of strength in every sense against Waterford.
Powerhouse wing-forward Gearóíd Hegarty franked his status as the Hurler of the Year in waiting with 0-7 but to a man, Limerick's work-rate and support play was astonishing. Kyle Hayes hurled the world of ball from number seven, Tom Morrissey and Aaron Gillane lanced over some super points, while the likes of Cian Lynch, Diarmuid Byrnes and Seán Finn were typically excellent.
Even without their raucous supporters in this winter championship behind closed doors, this was sizzling stuff from Limerick. Having gone from 1973 to 2018 without lifting Liam MacCarthy, it's two out of three for the Treaty and they'll take some stopping in 2021.
Their power and poise gave underdogs Waterford no chance, even if the loss of talismanic centre-back Tadhg de Búrca to an early injury was a significant blow. Liam Cahill's side needed to make more of goal chances for Jack Fagan, Neil Montgomery and Stephen Bennett in the opening 35 minutes, though it took a double-save from Stephen O'Keeffe to deny Hayes and Lynch in the same period.
After the break, John Kiely's charges upped the gears, dominating the third quarter. Stephen Bennett, Austin Gleeson and 20-year-old sub Iarlath Daly, who hurled in the Harty Cup for Christians, kept battling for dogged Waterford.
They needed a couple of goals to resurrect their chances but they ended up forcing the issue, with Nicky Quaid making a series of comfortable saves.
Since landing the league in 2015, the Déise have now lost seven finals: two All-Irelands, two in the league and another three Munster deciders. Of course, they had to reach them in the first place, but silverware is needed next season to break the cycle.
Can anyone stop Limerick though? They're a different beast to Kilkenny in their pomp, rarely going for goals, but they're animals none the less: death by a thousand cuts, or 30 points anyway. Ruthless in their own way.
A Gillane 0-10 (0-6 f), G Hegarty 0-7, T Morrissey 0-5, S Flanagan 0-3, W O’Donoghue, D Hannon, K Hayes, P Ryan, D Byrnes 0-1 each.
S Bennett 0-10 (0-9 f), A Gleeson 0-5 (0-1 sl, 0-1 f), K Bennett, D Hutchinson, K Moran, C Lyons 0-1 each.
N Quaid; S Finn, D Morrissey, B Nash; D Byrnes, D Hannon (c), K Hayes; D O’Donovan, W O’Donoghue; G Hegarty, C Lynch, T Morrissey; A Gillane, S Flanagan, G Mulcahy.
P Casey for G Mulcahy (49), D Reidy for D O’Donovan (59), P Ryan for S Flanagan (63), A Breen for A Gillane (69), P O’Loughlin for K Hayes (inj 71).
S O’Keeffe; I Kenny, C Prunty (c), S McNulty; K Moran, T de Búrca, C Lyons; J Barron, K Bennett; N Montgomery, A Gleeson, J Fagan; D Hutchinson, S Bennett, J Prendergast.
I Daly for T de Búrca (inj 21), D Lyons for K Bennett (40), C Gleeson for N Montgomery (44), P Curran for K Moran (52), S Fives for I Kenny (55).
F Horgan (Tipperary).