Tuesday 23 January 2018

Cyril Farrell: Limerick to build on result and show their true potential

Limerick’s Seanie Tobin was unlucky to see red
Limerick’s Seanie Tobin was unlucky to see red

Cyril Farrell

Limerick's time has arrived and it's now up to them to seize the opportunity.

After a disappointing league campaign, yesterday's victory over Clare will have given the entire county a massive lift.

When you see the likes of Cian Lynch coming in for his championship debut and taking to it like a duck to water, you have reason to feel confident.

It looked like Clare would sneak the draw at the end but Limerick showed great grit and determination to see it through and that will stand to them later in the summer.

Lynch didn't play with any real game-plan and as soon as he threw off the shackles, his team-mates followed suit and that's what ultimately saw them dig out the victory.

We all knew it would be compact in the middle third and the first half never really opened up. Limerick were playing with a nice breeze and will certainly have felt they should have been up by more then just the one point at half-time.


But crucially, they stayed in front throughout the game and as soon as Clare threatened a comeback, the Treaty County were able to repel them.

People will forget the first half but the game really came alive in the second and hopefully that's a taste of what's to come in the next few months.

I fully believe Seanie Tobin would have stayed on the field had Pat Donnellan not been sent off in the first half.

To me there was a touch of levelling up and I'm not sure that Tobin's offence warranted a red card.

Donnellan on the other hand can have no complaints. It was a certain red card and you'd expect more from someone who usually has a cool head.

It was a moment of madness and as soon as he struck out, you knew he was gone. You can't strike an opponent like that. Despite the game having two red cards, it was far from dirty.

Clare will complain they didn't get enough frees and I don't for the life of me know how the referee played just one minute of injury-time.

But Clare cannot rely on refereeing decisions. They'll have to go back now and have a good, long look at themselves.

But I wouldn't panic if I was in the Banner camp. They have players like Brendan Bugler and Conor McGrath to come back into the fold and they'd get on most teams in the country.

Aaron Cunningham was a real bright spark and he has really put his hand up for a start the next day. He scored two outstanding goals and, like Lynch, was a real breath of fresh air.

Clare will be dangerous when they get going and no one will want to meet them in the qualifiers, that's for sure.

For Limerick, they can look forward to a semi-final against Tipperary and they'll go into that high on confidence.

The fact the game will be played at the Gaelic Grounds is vital and I'd expect about 30,000 people to turn up to that, which will make for a cracking atmosphere.

It was hip and whip stuff yesterday and if we get conditions like that on June 21, we'll be in for some game.

I think Tipp will be quietly worried about the threat Limerick will pose to them.

It's a massive game for Tipp because they haven't won anything under this management and with the quality of their squad, they really should have some silverware to show for it.

Limerick traditionally raise their game for Tipp and this year will be no different.

Yesterday's game is the kind of one that you could look back on and say it was a turning point in Limerick's season.

We've seen that there is nothing between the five teams in Munster. Anything can happen on the day and the team who ends up winning the championship will be the one who handles the occasion better.

They are still rightfully the favourites but Kilkenny are not the force they once were. They're not putting away teams by 10 or 12 points like they used to. That will give everyone else plenty of hope.

The likes of John Fitzgibbon, Seamus Hickey and Donal O'Grady have all been around a while now and with the younger players really coming to the fore, it's a good time to be a Treaty supporter.

This is Limerick's time and if this current team can't push on, who can?

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