Friday 26 May 2017

Defining days beckon for Limerick's prospects

Limerick County Board secretary Michael O'Riordan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Limerick County Board secretary Michael O'Riordan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The Championship play-off in English soccer was described as the "biggest prize in world football" by accountants Deloitte last year.

Norwich City's win over Middlesborough was worth an estimated £120m, possibly a conservative estimate given the way the next TV deals are stacked.

Those figures are light years away from what Limerick's visit to Clare for the clash of Division 1B's only unbeaten teams on Sunday might generate for the winners. But there's a case to be made that this is hurling's most valuable game in a monetary context.

Limerick have been most vociferous in lobbying for an enlarged top flight and financial reasons have shaped their thinking as much as the impact of improved standards.

Secretary Mike O'Riordan costed the restructuring of the Division 1 league into two six-team groups in excess of €100,000 for those who lost out.

They are figures he still stands over as Limerick face up to the prospect of a sixth successive year missing out on Division 1A.

"If you take into consideration gate receipts for home matches you could draw 10,000 for games against Cork, Tipperary and Kilkenny, whereas you might have just 1,500 at a Division 1B game."

"Then there is the money from advertising space around the ground, greater sponsorship share, programme sales and everything that can be generated from bigger crowds," he said.

Limerick won the old Division 2 in 2011 prior to the two-way split of 12 teams. In the following two years they topped 1B but lost the play-off. Since then they have finished second to Clare, Cork and Waterford, missing out on promotion.

Thus the importance of Ennis, which will draw a capacity crowd on Sunday, can't be understated.

Limerick hurling has been flying high with All-Ireland U-21 success and Ardscoil Rís taking four Harty Cups in this decade. Tomorrow Na Piarsaigh contest an All-Ireland club final hoping to improve the poor record of the county's teams in Croke Park finals.

The next few days could be quite defining for Limerick hurling.

Irish Independent

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