Byrnes: We have a winning mentality, we haven't lost a game
Limerick defender Diarmaid Byrnes thinks defeat to Galway this Sunday and missing out on promotion once again would not be a disaster for the Treaty men.
The two unbeaten teams in Division 1B of the hurling league face off in the promotion decider at Pearse Stadium, with the All-Ireland champions eager to avoid a third straight year in the second tier, while Limerick hope to join the country's top teams for the first time since 2011.
Plotting the downfall of the All-Ireland champions on their own patch, which would be their first loss in a little over 12 months, is an enjoyable exercise for John Kiely's side, but according to Byrnes they are keen to not build up the challenge too much.
"We started out, our first day, on December 30 in Cork in the Munster League and since then we haven't lost a match. We've got that winning mentality so going in against Galway on Sunday, we haven't lost a game yet," said Byrnes.
"For me personally it's just another game. You can't think too much about it or else you'll drive yourself crazy. There's promotion on the line for 1A and it's something we've been thriving for the last couple of years, no point denying it.
"It's a massive challenge. Galway are deservedly All-Ireland champions. They won the league, they're league champions and also the Leinster champions. So the respect is there for them but you won't have too much respect for them on Sunday as you cross the white line.
"Not a disaster (if we lose); it's something we're looking forward to now. You'd have long-term goals, short-term goals. Long term we have been aiming for this.
"We knew if we put in the performances we would have been where we are now, but it's something we're looking forward to, we'll embrace it."
For a youngster in Patrickswell there were plenty of legendary hurling figures to look to in the parish growing up, none more so than Ciaran Carey.
Byrnes also points to the influence that the Wexford manager has had on his career. Now in his third year of a marketing management degree in Limerick IT, the Fitzgibbon Cup has paired Byrnes with Davy Fitzgerald. And he says Fitzgerald and Carey have had a big influence on his game.
Kiely now has another crop of successful youngster to work with. Several minor, U-21 and Fitzgibbon Cup medals are littered around the dressing-room and they are still without their decorated Na Piarsaigh contingent.
"We travelled to Antrim without them (UL players) at the weekend, there was five or six of them lads, Gearoid Hegarty, Sean Finn, Barry Nash, Kyle Hayes, Michael Casey, Ronan Lynch. It shows the strength in depth in our panel as well that we could travel to Antrim without them lads and without the Na Piarsaigh lads and still get a fantastic result above in Antrim, beating them comfortably.
"There's certainly a buzz around Limerick having certain teams going so well.
"We've lots of new players and they've really settled into the role. John had the bulk of us at 21s level in 2015 and he was involved in 2013 with the lads when they won the Munster championship.
"It does take time to see what way the team suits what way you want to play... but, again this year, the results show we're flying it in matches.
"We haven't lost a game yet and we're almost in March now so we're going well."
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