WHAT is it that drives on this Kilkenny team in endless pursuit of new milestones? You might think it's got something to do with securing their place in history ... but if you're to believe Brian Cody, it's got nothing to do with the past and everything to do with the here-and-now.
The Kilkenny boss is now 70 minutes away from his tenth All-Ireland, with just Cork or Tipperary blocking his route to hurling's equivalent of 'La Decima'.
Ronaldo and his Real Madrid colleagues, however, would doubtless have run a million miles from yesterday's flying ash and flailing bodies against the backdrop of a biblical tempest.
When it was all over, Cody was asked if the hunger of his troops ever surprised him? "No, because that's what you do," he countered. "If you start thinking about something you won before, what good is that to you today, or this year?
"Our previous victories mean nothing right now if we had to leave here today ... the fact that we might have won at other times wouldn't be any good to me or to the lads either. It would be just sheer, absolute devastation when you lose a game like that, and that's what Limerick are experiencing. We didn't want to experience that."
Cody didn't just revel in the result but the manner of its achievement: the ideal semi-final test.
"It was as hard as you could get," he admitted. "I thought Limerick played outstanding, they threw everything at us and we were tested in every way. I suppose what shone through again was our absolute spirit to the end, competing manfully throughout the game. I thought our genuineness was superb ... just a powerful game to win." He then surmised: "Without a doubt, if we had not been very, very good today, we would have been blown away."
Small consolation for TJ Ryan, who was asked to reflect on how close Limerick had come to an ambush? "Two points!" he quipped, humour masking the trauma.
"I certainly couldn't ask for any more," he said of his players. "We had huge performances all over the pitch; we probably needed one or two things to go our way. But the bottom line is we lost. That's the biggest pain of all. It's hard to take."
The Limerick boss will now take stock after a positive first season that still ended without silverware.
"I'll have to sit down and have a good look at it," he reflected. "The performances have been quite good, but we have to look at it because we came up short in the Munster final and we came up a small bit short again today."
"I knew we were going to give this one hell of a rattle, I knew training had gone well," he continued. "We were chasing and hunting everything. We threw the whole kitchen sink at them and they still came out on top. You have to give Kilkenny credit for that."
Was he surprised by Kilkenny's intensity in defence? "That's a given," he replied. "I wouldn't ever be surprised by anything that Kilkenny do. They're not going for ten titles for no reason. What they have done is incredible ... maybe there might have been a few question marks about them this year but they responded in every single way. They're League champions, they won Leinster and they're back in an All-Ireland final. What more can you say?"