Horan plays down Limerick's winning streak
AS a Mayoman coaching Limerick, Maurice Horan will be of interest to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, with the latter no doubt being especially impressed by the Ballinrobe man's thrifty ways.
Horan has presided over a Limerick team which holds the best defensive record in the Allianz football League, having conceded the remarkably low total of 1-32 in four games in Division 4. It's high-security defence at its best and has needed to be as Limerick's scoring total (0-41) is the second lowest behind Kerry in the entire league.
The low-yield/low-spend formula is working well for Limerick, who have won all four games so far, taking them four points clear at the top of the Division 4 table with three rounds remaining. That's quite an advantage and is in line with Limerick's pre-season rating as promotion favourites, but Horan is sounding a cautious note as they still have to play Munster rivals, Tipperary and Clare, as well as London, who beat Waterford last weekend.
"The table looks good for us now, but with three rounds to go, anything can happen. I suppose we have been a bit lucky to win all four games and you never know when your luck will change. Every game is crucial now. If we beat Tipperary on Saturday, it will put us six points clear of them, but if we lose, they'll be within two points of us and right back in the mix.
"Tipp are going well again after a slow start," said Horan.
He has been especially pleased with the defensive side of Limerick's game, which has enabled them to keep the concession rate down to an average of 8.75 per game against Leitrim, Offaly, Waterford and Carlow.
"The lads are working very hard when we're not in possession and it's showing. We have a more settled side than last year.
"Results other than our own have gone with us too and with no draws so far, we've been able to open a gap at the top. But I stress again, things could change very quickly if we lose a game," he said.
Limerick have an inferior scoring difference to second-placed Tipperary and are similar to third-placed Offaly, so their four-point advantage at the top of the table underlines how well they have coped with close calls.
They won two games by a point and two others by two points, all without scoring a goal.
"We were lucky enough to win against Offaly. We were behind for much of the way, but battled on and won in the end. Beating Offaly in Tullamore was a big boost.
"We're in a good position, but we're still not playing as well as we can," said Horan.
That's probably a nudge to his attack to raise the scoring rate, since an average of just over 10 points per game loses more often than it wins. Leitrim, for instance, have averaged almost 13 points per game, but have lost three of four and are all but out of the promotion race.