Monday 22 October 2018

Final triumph will go a long way to lifting the siege of Limerick

Limerick haven't won a Munster Senior Football final since that great day in Mallow, back in 1896. We are told by the 'Limerick Leader' that the umpire took a white hankie from his pocket, waved it at the referee and awarded a point to Limerick.

The Waterford lads walked off the pitch in disgust. They claimed the point was a wide. And rumour had it the Deise refused to do any TV interviews after the game.

There are many who will say the only hope for Limerick in tomorrow's Munster football final is if Cork go on strike. Think about it. Cork's Mister Five Per Cents fail to show. Limerick have the field to themselves just like in 1896. The match report will describe the final as a very one-sided contest.

Cork are 1/11 favourites. In other words, you have to invest €11 to win one and most businesses would dearly love nearly 10pc tax-free profits. I wonder if the banks would lend us money on foot of such a sure- fire investment. I'm sure you have already realised, banking and bookmaking are one and the same. The punter always loses, and the odds are always against him.

Maybe some shrewd banker would weigh up the business plan and say, "hold on a minute here, let's take a closer look at this proposal."

Cork are bad value. They often suffer from a mid-afternoon slump on the Sunday after they beat Kerry. Limerick have an experienced team and they have a philosopher/manager. Mickey Ned O'Sullivan told me I was a lateral thinker in the days when he ran the family pub in Kenmare. It explained why I always climbed in the window of a flat I once lived in because the window led directly to the bedroom, whereas access via the door took a full five seconds longer. Mickey Ned diagnosed me and now I do most of my thinking while lying on my side.

Seriously though, he did help me understand that there are more routes to your destination than taking the main road.

Mickey Ned aims to improve those he meets on his travels. He is so nice, he's nearly too nice. O'Sullivan was the Kerry manager when Clare beat Kerry in the 1992 Munster final.

Mickey Ned was blamed. Stephen Stack, who played for Kerry in that match, says the manager told his charges time and again that Clare were a right good team. And they were. Mickey Ned stepped down before the stepladder was pulled from under him. The Kerry players were sad to see him go. Players like Mickey Ned. He is always positive and caring, but is he too nice?

Different managers have different methods. Cousin Roy might well have learned that shouting and roaring only works for a while.

And he's not too nice. Sometimes fear can inhibit us. We all thrive on encouragement. That's how it works with Mickey Ned. He brings people along with him. Speedster Stephen Kelly is at full-forward after winning an AIL title with Shannon and the hurlers are back playing football.


He brought in another old pal, Donie Buckley, to take the training. Donie was tall and coltish when I knew him first in UCC. He worked hard on his game and improved beyond recognition. Donie scored the winning goal for Castleisland Desmonds in an All-Ireland Club final. He really knows his football and he knows how to get teams fit.

Limerick were unlucky to lose against Cork in the championship last year and while Cork have progressed, Limerick haven't gone back.

The Treaty men will be competitive at midfield. John Galvin's father was known as The Soldier and his son will battle to the end. Mighty Drom--Broadford won the Munster Club and there was also a recent good showing in a practice game against Galway.

A Munster final win would be the makings of football in Limerick. The Munster rugby successes have hit the GAA recruitment levels in the county. And as I'm at it, soccer coaches in different counties have imposed conditions on young players prohibiting them from playing GAA. Their intransigence gives a whole new meaning to the term 'GAA ban'.

And yes there are famous schools in this country where Gaelic football is known as 'gaah'. It is not a term of endearment. Croke Park opened its doors to rugby. Is it not right that the rugby-playing schools should at least make some effort to field a GAA team? Gaelic football always improves rugby players. The youngsters are taught 10 subjects in school, but only one game. It's supposed to be about kids having fun.

The Limerick Gaelic football people give their all to keep up the standard. Limerick have always had good footballers and now their team are playing for the very survival of football in the county.

Cork are genuine title contenders, but Limerick have a small chance, if they can avoid green handkerchiefs early on. One thing is for sure, these proud lads will never throw in the white towel, but they badly need to win this one.

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