Monday 20 November 2017

Limerick longing 'to win just once'

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

IF dreams come true and a huge chunk of gaelic football history is made by the Limerick team in Killarney tomorrow, there's only one theme song appropriate for the commemorative DVD -- 'To Win Just Once' written by the Saw Doctors' Leo Moran and Davy Carton.

Moran and Carton could have written the lyrics with the Limerick footballers in mind, particularly the six men in their team who were involved in the 2004 Munster final and replay.

Remarkably, given that Limerick is primarily devoted to hurling and that rugby also has a huge following, John Galvin, Stephen Kelly, Mark O'Riordan, Johnny McCarthy, Stephen Lucey and Stephen Lavin are all in the starting 15 for the big game.

The first verse alone is powerful and appropriate, the last two lines in particular:

'To win just once would be enough

For those who've lost in life and


For those who've lost their guile and


Their innocence, their drive and


For those who feel they've been


Discriminated, robbed or cheated

To claim one victory inspired

To win just once is their desire'

By now, the music should be dancing across your brain as you digest those words. If not, you're a Snoop Dog fan and we are worlds apart in our musical taste.

Whether such a DVD is ever made will depend on the respective performances of the All-Ireland champions Kerry and the Division 4 pretenders to the Munster title tomorrow.

If the weight of history is accepted by the Limerick men, they're already dead and buried.

A mere 114 years have elapsed since the Treaty county last annexed a Munster Football championship. Spend time thinking about that and you wouldn't get out of bed in the morning.

Happily for their supporters and the neutrals who will cheer them on tomorrow, Limerick's fire and passion is fuelled by the memory of events still very much alive in the memory -- the 2004 Munster final.

Limerick could, and should, have beaten Kerry on Sunday, July 11 of that year.

The match finished 1-10 apiece, with Kerry winning by 3-10 to 2-9 in the replay.

Kerry fans and veterans of the '04 team know how close they came to a shock defeat, and so do the Limerick players who were involved in that epic game six years ago.

The great Dara O Cinneide captained Kerry in 2004, and he knows how much of an escape the draw represented for his team.

He also reckons that Galvin and the boys from 04 are a threat, purely because they are in a position to atone for Limerick's failure to close out that final.

"Limerick rattled us in 2004 and to be honest we didn't so much save it as they threw it away.

"Teams that find themselves in that situation can start to worry about not losing instead of stepping on the throat of their opponents and finishing them off.

"It happened Sligo last weekend against Galway and it happened Limerick in 2004. That was their chance. In the replay in Killarney we never looked like losing it.

"Now John Galvin, and those lads who are still around from that time, must feel like they've been given a second chance they never thought would come again.

"If I was them and had spent my life dedicated to beating the likes of Kerry and this chance was there, I'd be fired up to go out and make sure I had no regrets this time."

Lavin is entirely in tune with those sentiments as he revealed in pre-match interviews.

He has had a tough year, as a shoulder injury he suffered playing hurling kept him on the sidelines for a long spell, and caused him to miss the Division 4 final win over Waterford at Croke Park.

"It's the biggest challenge ever. We're minnows -- there's no tradition in Limerick football," said Lavin.

"We've around 1,000 loyal followers and we're heading down to Killarney to play the All-Ireland champions.

"We've had all our defeats and our bad days, but you keep coming back because you love playing the game and love being involved.

"For a few years we didn't think we'd get back to a Munster final, so I appreciate it all the more now. I can't wait for it. We're going to give it everything and let the chips fall where they may."

Galvin is equally determined. The Limerick footballing legend gave county supporters of the big-ball game serious cause for concern when he considered retirement after another big disappointment -- losing the 2009 Munster final to Cork by just a point.

But as he admitted in pre-match interviews, once he saw the draw that pitted the Munster giants Kerry and Cork together in the semi-final, Galvin had an incentive to go on another year.

"I'm not going to lie," said Galvin. "I've been playing inter-county now for 12 years and you do mull over it (retirement).

" Truth of the matter is, the way the draw went for the championship made it easier to come back. It was a great incentive.

"I can't complain. We've had a good run so far this year and we're into the Munster final, so it's been well worth coming back."

Kerryman Liam Kearns managed the Limerick side that came so close to beating his native county six years ago.

Now Kenmare's Mickey Ned O'Sullivan is team boss and fired up for Limerick 'to win just once' in a Munster final. Sing it loud lads.

Irish Independent

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