| 18°C Dublin

Limerick must follow the Kilkenny template - Moran

Close

Niall Moran believes that the improvement in Limerick's underage structures have helped take them to the next level. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Niall Moran believes that the improvement in Limerick's underage structures have helped take them to the next level. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Niall Moran believes that the improvement in Limerick's underage structures have helped take them to the next level. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

It has been 30 long years since Limerick last tasted All-Ireland minor success, but whether or not that barren spell is ended on Sunday, this year won't have been a failure.

That's according to Niall Moran, who has coached several of the current team from an early age.

The Ardscoil Ris teacher returned to the Limerick senior panel this season and for the first time in several years, wasn't involved in the coaching of the school's teams, but he will do so for this year's campaign.

The Treaty County have just three minor championships to their name but since the introduction of an underage implementation group in 2011, there has been a renewed sense of optimism on Shannonside.

Moran believes that the improvement in the county's underage structures have helped take them to the next level but he is keen for expectations to be kept realistic.

PLAN

"It's well known in these parts that underage hurling in Limerick is in a good place with the work that Joe McKenna (chairman of implementation group) has been doing. There are far better structures in place and there is a plan that is being followed," Moran said.

"All of the facets are working off each other, which has really benefited what we're trying to do. You can see how the structures have allowed the schools to become more prominent.

"There is a sense of expectation surrounding this Limerick team given their experience, but there is also a massive sense of realism as well.

"Everyone from the players to the management are very grounded. The key for a county like Limerick is to learn from past mistakes and I think we're doing that. We've drawn positives from the negatives," the Ahane clubman says.

Limerick take on a Kilkenny side who are largely made up of players from Kilkenny CBS and St Kieran's College, who met in this year's All-Ireland schools final.

Despite believing that the schools campaign won't have any bearing on Sunday's outcome, Moran admits that Limerick are seeking to emulate the standards that Kilkenny have set.

"If you look at the template that they have set down through the years - that's what Limerick need to follow.

"Kilkenny have very rarely fast-tracked a minor straight into the senior panel.

"It's definitely the model that we base ourselves off. We respect every facet of what they do. They're modest and pragmatic and we aspire to be the same.

"If we can do that, then I'm sure further down the line, the lads will come into the senior side as much more rounded hurlers."

Limerick go into Sunday's final as firm favourites but Moran insists that the county's focus must be kept on the bigger picture as they look to continue the development of the other young talents coming through.

"This team has been competitive right the way through - that's why they're different - but we want that to be the case for all of our underage teams as opposed to just having a once off success.

"If the lads did go on and win on Sunday, it would give the county a lift but I think the most important aspect would be that it proves to the wider public that the hard work is paying off.

"We seem to have a lot more faith in our underage teams now but again, one year of success doesn't count for everything. People in Limerick are a lot more pragmatic and are staying focused on the bigger picture," Moran adds.

A Limerick victory may not rectify the mistakes that have been made in the past but it would certainly go a long way to defining an exciting generation of young hurlers for whom there is genuine cause for optimism, while at the same time ending their long wait for minor glory.

Irish Independent