Hickey: It hurts to talk about Limerick potential in the past tense
Published 13/10/2016 | 02:30
The last two years haven't panned out as Seamus Hickey envisaged, and the Limerick defender, normally a hub of optimism, is unsure of where the Treaty stand heading into 2017.
Relegation to the intermediate ranks with his club Murroe Boher compounded the disappointment of failing to build on a narrow All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kilkenny in 2014 as the Treaty men slip down hurling's pecking order.
Limerick's fortunes, much like Hickey's career since bursting onto the scene in 2006, have been "up and down" and with TJ Ryan resigning after three years at the helm, they're now at a crossroads.
"It's been good and bad. We haven't played particularly well as a team the last two years but I haven't played particularly well as an individual so it's been up and down," the Centra Ireland #LiveWell ambassador said.
"The more experience I get, sometimes the less I think I know.
"Last year I tore my hamstring after doing a gym session the night before a league game - why do you do that? Why would you be so silly? If one of the young lads did that on our panel I'd be like 'you need to take care of yourself' - and I do the same stupid stuff.
"What I've learned is that you can take absolutely nothing for granted because we were a coming force. . . and talking in past tense actually hurts me a little because it means that we didn't deliver on that promise.
"I still think the basis of ability is there; ability doesn't win things but it sure as hell is nice as a starting block. Where are we? I'm not 100pc sure to be perfectly honest.
"I was enormously optimistic and talking ourselves up going into the two previous years because I believed it. Right now I don't know, I genuinely don't know, I don't know at all. It's a wait and see thing now."
John Kiely, who led Limerick to All-Ireland U-21 success last year, has taken the reins, with Hickey seeing him as a "great fit", while the addition of Paul Kinnerk is a huge feather in their cap.
"I'm thrilled. I played club football with Paul for a number of years with Monaleen but it's funny, I was playing with him but I didn't realise he was the guy in the Clare dressing-room that was working magic. They have enormous respect for him," the 29-year-old said.
"They were very sad to lose him when he went away travelling for a year and delighted to get him back last year and sickened to lose him again."
New Wexford boss Davy Fitzgerald, an old foe from across the Shannon, awaits Hickey in the first round of next year's league and despite their chequered past, he feels the All-Ireland-winning manager is a "great appointment".
"They're going to be wound up to the hilt to play us. My experiences of Davy have grown since I played with UL against LIT and we couldn't look at each other without wanting to dig each other," he said.
"He has his methods of training but his passion for the game is undeniable and that's something I respect enormously."
As GPA chairman, Hickey is searching for Dessie Farrell's CEO successor; he hopes 2017 can signal a change in fortunes on the pitch after making huge progress off it.