Thursday 20 June 2019

Brendan Cummins: Knee-jerk talk of Limerick's demise is wide of mark

Limerick manager John Kiely. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Limerick manager John Kiely. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Brendan Cummins

There are far too many knee-jerk reactions based on Clare's comfortable defeat of Limerick and in my eyes John Kiely's side are still the team best equipped to put it up to reigning All-Ireland champions Galway.

There seems to be a boom or bust mentality in the GAA, you're either going to win the All-Ireland after 70 minutes of hurling or you haven't a hope, it's crazy stuff.

Limerick had already qualified and secretly, it's exactly what Kiely and his troops would have needed to bring them back to reality. They went all in against Waterford and blew them away. Then, there was a slight feeling that 'we've arrived' going to Ennis and that 'we're actually a good team now'.

Any complacency about where they're at or what they need to do to reach the pinnacle will be blown away now and when people look at it rationally and analyse their performances and style of play over the four games, they were generally excellent.

Structurally and physically, they are the second best team left. One of the main reasons that they're best placed to tackle Galway is because they have big men up front and if they could outwork the Galway half-forwards, that'd give them a huge chance.

The physical toll isn't as significant as the mental exertion when playing three weeks in a row. Gearóid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes and Tom Morrissey have been superb in the half-forward line this year, but all of those lads play a high-energy game.

They give a lot of their time back in their own half of the pitch and they just couldn't do what they had been doing up until now last Sunday. If you're basing your game on energy, intensity and working through the lines, you're naturally going to have a dip.

They're not robots, but the dip has come when they were in the top three, unlike Tipperary and Waterford. Every team has had their slump but there's has been well timed as they have a month now to organise themselves.

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The one fear I'd have for Limerick is their full-back line because Clare showed that they can be got at.

John Conlon was marking two defenders at one stage and he still won possession, but playing 14 v 14 definitely didn't suit a tired team and the loss of Seán Finn and then Tom Condon's sending off totally upset their structure.

I'd have full confidence that they'll end up winning their preliminary All-Ireland quarter-final and meet the losers of the Leinster final - which I expect to be Kilkenny - in the last eight with a right chance to take the scalp of a team hurting from a defeat. Then, they'd have nothing to lose against Galway.

That would be one to savour and the best chance to catch Galway cold would probably be in the semi-final. Things have been going so smoothly for Galway but if they could upset the spine of their defence, they have the forwards to cause them trouble.

Micheál Donoghue will be delighted with how things have gone on the back of All-Ireland success and their championship is essentially condensed down to six weeks now.

It has been ideal for them. They were in Division 1B where they lost to Limerick and Wexford beat them in the league quarter-final. 'So what?" was the vibe I got from it because their sole focus was on retaining the Liam MacCarthy. They knew they were going to steamroll through Leinster and they did.

Structurally, they are so difficult to break down and they have made good Leinster teams look average.

They haven't had the same tests that the Munster teams, who have been taking lumps out of each other every week, have had.

The quality that they've played to date hasn't been up to their intensity and they make it look very easy, it's like how all good golfers make it look so simple that the average punter thinks 'Jaysus, I could do that'

They have their game plan down to a tee. Donoghue has given them the template but they're all intelligent players and can carry it out effectively. There's no doubt that they are the team to beat, but Limerick aren't as far away as some might think.

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