Tuesday 21 May 2019

Geary: All I remember is losing, it's all about winning

Treaty selector Brian Geary. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Treaty selector Brian Geary. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

A lot has changed since Brian Geary played in Limerick's last All-Ireland SHC final appearance in 2007, but the Treaty selector is keen for the most important aspect to be altered: the result.

"Ultimately, it's all about winning," Geary said. "When I look back to the final, while I enjoyed the few weeks' build-up, all I can remember really is losing. It was a great year and all that, getting to a final, but when we lost it was disappointing."

The former centre-back encourages the current crop to enjoy the occasion, but when all is said and done a performance is needed to get them over the line and end 45 barren years without Liam MacCarthy.

"I'm sure they're going to be buzzing with their parents and their friends but there's plenty of time after the match for that as well. Ultimately, it's about winning like and I think they realise that, I hope they realise it, but they are enjoying it."

As Geary's former Limerick team-mate Andrew O'Shaughnessy noted this week, "If you don't win, you're not remembered" and John Kiely's charges must seize the day as you never know when another might arrive, as Geary knows only too well.

He speaks of how inter-county hurlers are now "physical specimens" once they leave underage, and the positive developments which the game has gone through, but one thing is likely to be the same in Croke Park this Sunday.

The Monaleen clubman will never forget the reception that they were greeted with when they hit the pitch for their warm-up 11 years ago and he feels the fact that the current squad coped with it in their semi-final defeat of Cork bodes well.

Richie Bennis's side got caught in the headlights in 2008 as Eddie Brennan and Henry Shefflin struck for early Kilkenny goals, but he expects Limerick to be forewarned and forearmed against a similar barrage from champions Galway given how the Tribesmen have started their games this year.

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"Lads would have played in big matches, All-Ireland U-21s and this and that but sure nothing would have readied them for the noise and the reception they got in the semi-final, but they experienced it and they dealt with it quite well. That's another thing ticked maybe," he said.

"In an All-Ireland final you don't want to be digging yourself a hole. Galway are such a physical team. I'm not even sure if they've got back to where they were last year yet. They could be saving that for the final.

"If you give them a start you're going to be up against it. Our lads have watched all the matches all year. They're more than aware of how Galway can start so it's about matching their intensity in the opening quarter."

Having worked with Kiely for the past two seasons, Geary admits they learned a lot in a challenging first year and had a far better idea of "maybe 80pc" of their team for 2018 when they reflected on what had passed. Thirteen players have played a key part in all seven championship games thus far, but they promote loyalty if players are performing.

"Anyone who got a chance in the Munster League and the league itself did very well and because of that, there was a consistent team throughout. They all did well and didn't deserve to be dropped.

"There is a big appetite to get onto the 26 for the final, why wouldn't there be? You want to see your name there in the programme. That is driving it and the lads starting know there's fellas over their shoulders. We've showed loyalty, but they've been good to us too. The Clare game aside, there hasn't been a bad performance."

1990s Heroes to be part of All-Ireland day

Eight counties are represented on the Hurling Team of the 1990s, who will be honoured as part of the All-Ireland final programme in Croke Park on Sunday.

The presentations will replace the traditional 25-year jubilee celebration, arising from Kilkenny winning the 1992 and 1993 All-Ireland titles.

The 1992 team were honoured last year and since most of them were also aboard in 1993, the GAA decided to instead recognise the best overall team of a decade when the 10 All-Ireland titles were shared by six counties: Cork, Kilkenny, Clare and Offaly (two each), and Tipperary and Wexford (one each).

Clare's 1995 success was their first for 81 years, while Wexford's 1996 win was their first for 28 years. Offaly made history in 1998 by becoming the first county to win the All-Ireland title after losing in the provincial championships.

Clare, Wexford and Offaly all have three players each on the team . Limerick have two, while Cork, Kilkenny, Galway and Tipperary have one each.

"We are delighted to pay tribute to a special group of players who were part of such a defining period in the game," said GAA President John Horan.

The 1990s Team of the decade: D Fitzhenry (Wexford); B Corcoran (Cork), B Lohan (Clare), M Hanamy (Offaly); B Whelahan (Offaly), S McMahon (Clare), L Dunne (Wexford); C Carey (Limerick), M Coleman (Galway); M Storey (Wexford), G Kirby (Limerick), J O'Connor (Clare); M Cleary (Tipperary), DJ Carey (Kilkenny), Johnny Dooley (Offaly).

The selectors were: John Horan (Uachtarán CLG), Martin Breheny (Irish Independent), Sean Moran ('Irish Times'), Michael Lyster (RTÉ TV), Brian Carthy (RTÉ Radio), Jim O'Sullivan (formerly 'Irish Examiner'), Martán Ó Ciardha (Iar RnaG) and Sean Bán Breathnach (RnaG).

Irish Independent

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