Tuesday 23 January 2018

Mickey Ned draws home comforts for Cork tie

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

THEY GOT, arguably, the toughest draw in the last round of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers but the prospect of facing Cork was softened for the Limerick footballers yesterday as they secured home advantage.

The counties already had a home-and-away arrangement for the Munster championship but this game was expected to go to a neutral venue. However, after the counties agreed to a toss for the all-Munster clash, the Shannonsiders got a break and the game will be played at the Gaelic Grounds.

Manager Mickey Ned O'Sullivan was already philosophical about ending up facing the Rebels again.

"What can you say? It was probably the toughest draw going because Cork are still a lot of people's favourites for the All-Ireland," he said. "It is certainly a challenge but they are a team we know very well and we won't be afraid of them."

It is a game that also offers his team a great chance to avenge their defeat by Cork in last year's provincial decider, a game that Limerick had every chance of winning but simply couldn't close out.

After losing this year's Munster final to Kerry, Limerick will also have had a three-week break while Cork have had two qualifier games against Cavan and Wexford.

O'Sullivan got some relief with the home draw yesterday and also the news that 22 of his squad came through local championship action last weekend relatively unscathed.

"They were actually all playing hurling championship games for their clubs," explained the former All-Ireland winning captain.

"There was a full round of hurling on and there are few counties that are really as 'dual' as Limerick, but that's just something we have to deal with and the players all came through, barring a few small niggles."

Limerick will be looking to reverse an unpleasant recent record in the football qualifiers, where home advantage has not particularly helped them.

In 2007 they were beaten by Louth, by a point, at the Gaelic Grounds. A year later, they also went down at home, by a goal margin, to Kildare.

And last year they bowed out to Meath by a point in somewhat controversial circumstances in Portlaoise, when Stephen Lucey was whistled for over-carrying in a scoring position in the dying seconds.

After the devastation of losing their second Munster final in a row, totemic midfielder John Galvin threw down the gauntlet to his Limerick team-mates to revive themselves in time for this year's qualifiers.

"We never lifted ourselves last year after the Cork game," he admitted. "I just hope that we learned from last year and hopefully we can pick it up.

"We saw what Meath did last year after they beat us. We just have to pick ourselves up again and see that we still have a huge chance of getting to the All-Ireland quarter-finals."

Irish Independent

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