Limerick not rushing minor heroes into derby furnace
Limerick selector Paul Beary is well aware of the delicate balance that needs to be struck between youth and experience at inter-county level, but he is in no rush to fast-track the county's latest batch of promising kids into the senior set-up.
With All-Ireland minor final appearance last year and semi-finals in the last two years, it is inevitable that the call for tomorrow's talent to be included has been aired.
To date just two of that squad have featured for TJ Ryan's side: Tom Morrissey and Cian Lynch have made the grade already this year and are expected to make their championship debuts against Clare at Semple Stadium on Sunday.
But Beary has warned against rushing too many players into their squad. The seniors' green shirt needs to be earned, he says.
"The minors have got to an All-Ireland final and an All-Ireland semi-final, and there may have been some pressure applied to bring more of the minors in," Beary said.
"We did make a conscious decision there that in many ways you have to earn your right to come into the senior panel. Tom and Cian, in fairness, they got good exposure during the league campaign. They're fairly well-blooded at this stage, but it is a big adjustment actually.
"Not only in terms of from a hurling perspective, but people underestimate the adjustment as well in terms of walking into a dressing room and a lot of the guys that they would have been supporting for the last four or five years going to matches are there.
"You can't underestimate the adjustment of walking in and seeing these big personalities as well. It all takes time."
As coach under Sean Stack, Beary was part of the Na Piarsaigh side that won the Munster club title in 2011 and 2013 and five of his side are in the current Limerick panel.
But there is also plenty of connections between the Limerick city club and their opponents on Sunday. Stack hurled with the Banner during the 1980s before managing Na Piarsaigh for five years, while Beary's wife will also have divided loyalties at the weekend as another Banner native.
"There's a fair interaction between Na Piarsaigh and Clare. My own wife is from Ballyea in Clare and I just found out today I've to go to her nephew's communion there the day before the match.
"There's no doubt about it. Even when I was going to school in Ard Scoil Ris, there was a fair few going there from Cratloe and Sixmilebridge. There's a strong interaction there in the local setting. It adds to it all.
"In fairness, the championship, that match, is always at the back of your mind. Right from once the draw is made. Even wherever you go in Limerick, people would talk to you about the league and all that, but they'd always have a question for you about Clare," said the Limerick selector.
And after a spring to forget for the Banner men with internal rows and relegation from Division 1A, does Beary see a weakened Clare side limping into the championship?
"There's potential for backlash, no doubt about that. Clare have been kind of the innovators from the tactical nuances of the game and Waterford are probably taking it to a new level.
He said: "From a Limerick perspective no matter what went on in Clare, you can't hide from the fact that our last league performance was very disappointing, whereas their last league performance, in fairness I watched the game, was of a good high quality.
"We're very mindful of that as well and you can't ignore that as well in terms of your preparations for them," he said.