Bennis: 'Element of surprise is gone for Dublin now'
Former Limerick boss tips Treaty to progress
Published 11/07/2015 | 02:30
Successive All-Ireland quarter-final appearances in 2011 and 2012 followed by two All-Ireland semi-final berths in 2013 and 2014 mark out a obvious graph of progress for Limerick hurling.
Throw in a Munster title secured in 2013 and things seem very rosy indeed. But it also leaves them with only one place to go if they are continue their progression of the last few seasons.
An All-Ireland final appearance is the next obvious step but heading to Semple Stadium tonight to face Dublin, they face the daunting prospect of being just the third Limerick side not to reach at least the All-Ireland quarter-final in the last ten seasons.
And the last man to manage the Treaty men to an All-Ireland decider, Richie Bennis, believes supporters are unsure what to expect from their side this evening.
"I think people are confused," said the 1973 All-Ireland winner. "We are not sure where we are. You can forget about last Sunday.
"No disrespect to Westmeath but whether you won that game by 20 points or by the margin they won by they weren't going to be given much heed.
"We are developing a consistency but it's not one I like."
For Bennis, the game against Tipperary remains the best pointer. Keeping the boot on the throat of the Premier men for a third successive year was always going to be a big ask.
"It's hard to rouse yourself year after year for those games. Tipp will always come back at you. They have the resources to keep coming back year after year, more than we would have.
"A lot of people looked to blame the full-back line but that's not how I saw it. The Tipp half-back line had all the time they needed to deliver a pass.
"And Tipp had the forwards to do the damage then. With Tipperary you need to be stopping the supply and we just didn't do that."
The back door was always going to be perilous and they were given Dublin. The other option was Cork and that's the one Bennis would have preferred.
"It was either Dublin or Cork, it could only go that way. Both of them I think offer a similar challenge and they will be as hard to beat as each other but I would have preferred to be playing Cork.
"There'd be a fair rivalry between Cork and Limerick. There wouldn't be much of a rivalry with Dublin from down through the years at all really. And I think that would suit Limerick better to be playing a Cork team."
Dublin have just as much at stake. They are just a single defeat away from logging an underwhelming first season under Ger Cunningham and preparation has been poor with the news that experienced defender Mikey Carton has left the panel.
In Bennis' playing days, Dublin didn't provide much opposition and while he believes they will continue to impress, he thinks they might have to start all over again with a new team.
"I was up in Dublin for the league match with Limerick. They were much better than Limerick that day so there is lots to be done.
"They have great resources and good young teams coming through all the time. They were unlucky not to beat Kilkenny in the minor final in Croke Park last weekend so they are going to be around for a while.
"But I think Anthony Daly might have got the best out of that Dublin side. He did a good few years with them so I think the surprise element is gone for Dublin now.
"And I think Limerick like Semple. They seem to do their best hurling there so I think they'll win. There's a lot at stake here - only the best teams are left standing at this stage."