Friday 20 October 2017

'We feel we have to beat Tipp twice to make people take notice'

Gavin O'Mahony admits he thought O'Grady quit email was a joke – but backs Treaty to make light of upheaval

Gavin O'Mahony sees no reason why Limerick can't build on last year's Munster championship success. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Gavin O'Mahony sees no reason why Limerick can't build on last year's Munster championship success. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Gavin O'Mahony saw the benefits first hand. In his role as a coach in the county, he witnessed what last year's Munster championship win did for the county and wondered what Limerick could achieve if such potential could be tapped.

"The whole thing just took off," he recalls.

Perhaps he should have known there would be a bust to follow the boom. Limerick's penchant for shooting itself in the foot is well chronicled and if they are to secure a once-in-a-generation win in Thurles tomorrow, they'll have done it the hard way.

The Donal O'Grady saga still baffles him. First brought in as a unifying figure after the acrimony that surrounded Justin McCarthy's departure in 2010, there was an irony that O'Grady followed in the footsteps of his fellow Corkman by departing under a cloud.

The players were informed by email, but O'Mahony presumed it was a joke and he launched his own investigation to try find out who had gained access to the account. A call from Paul Browne put him right.

"I was shocked," says the Kilmallock man. "There was no indication. We were training and training and next thing it went from that to that – he was gone.

"I believe he was at the league semi-finals on the Sunday and that night we were made aware of it.

CRISIS

"There was a bit of a joke amongst the players because we thought it was a wind-up. The following morning it was made real.

"What can you do? In Limerick we have been through a couple of crisis situations where the whole thing was finished and I suppose when you're involved a year or two you learn to focus on yourself and say 'what can I do to help this?'"

O'Mahony wasn't for taking sides but the wing-back believes there was a middle ground that could have been found. The terminology where the management apologised for league performance was clumsy rather than deliberate, he reasons.

"We didn't over-emphasise the league, though we did want to get promoted. We had a goal in mind and we trained really hard and hopefully later in the year we will reap the rewards," he says.

"Many of the players felt it was just a slip of the tongue, a badly phrased answer and probably no more. It was a pity they couldn't resolve it and come to some agreement, but it shouldn't have gotten that far.

"The focus for all of us from day one would have been Tipp on June 1. I suppose 75pc of the country felt last year we caught them in the Gaelic Grounds and they would have said 'Fair play to Limerick for getting a win' so we kind of feel we have something to prove.

"To beat Tipp twice in a row is something very few counties have done and we felt that if this is what it takes to make people take notice, then that's what has to be done."

It's all in-house now. Limerick men in charge of Limerick. Coaching duties have been divided but the players have driven the agenda.

O'Mahony referenced Padraig Harrington, who only truly enjoyed his second Major win.

Limerick are desperate not to slip away again after last summer. It clearly irks them that they have been written off to such an extent and that as reigning champions, they are fourth in the betting in Munster this year.

"You can chop and change selectors and managers but at the end of the day you only have a couple of years of a window," says O'Mahony.

"And a lot of the players are in their mid-20s and at a time where they should be getting to grips with it. If you're not, that's the message you are going to leave behind.

"What you are going to achieve is going to be determined by those couple of years and working in the midst of that. Regardless of whether Donal O'Grady left or if Brian Cody took over, the players have to be responsible for what you have won and lost."

Clare opened their eyes to what can be achieved, while he also feels Limerick will feel the benefit of 2013 down the line. But there's a more immediate concern. A taste of success has made him selfish.

"To achieve something takes real quality but to repeat it takes real character and that's something we're really conscious of – that it has to come from individuals wanting it as badly this year as last year," he says.

"It was a phenomenal summer last year. We had the Feile as well last year in Limerick and the whole thing just took off.

"In a way without realising it at the time we probably got swept along with it. It was brilliant and a great lift for everyone involved in the county in coaching.

"But when you achieve something like that you always want to experience it again. And you know that you can."

Irish Independent

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