Wednesday 21 August 2019

Morrissey urges Treaty to become 'greedy' for more titles

Half-forward sees recent league glory as a statement of intent from Limerick

Best of friends – for now: Limerick’s Tom Morrissey, right, and the highest scorer of the 2018 hurling championship, Peter Duggan of Clare, pictured at yesterday’s launch of the Littlewoods Ireland #StyleOfPlay campaign. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Best of friends – for now: Limerick’s Tom Morrissey, right, and the highest scorer of the 2018 hurling championship, Peter Duggan of Clare, pictured at yesterday’s launch of the Littlewoods Ireland #StyleOfPlay campaign. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Why can't Limerick become a hurling county with the consistent success rates of Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary?

The question put to Tom Morrissey invites an obvious answer from a young man who has already debunked the weight of history on their shoulders in the aftermath of their thrilling All-Ireland quarter-final win over Kilkenny in rain-soaked Thurles last July.

This is not one he's going to push back with some degree of reticence.

Morrissey was such a pivotal figure in those closing stages, scoring an inspiring point in response to Richie Hogan's late goal before adding another in another frantic finish to set Limerick free.

Afterwards, his calculated response to a question about the past shone a light on a new breed of Limerick hurler and in Dublin yesterday for the launch of Littlewoods Ireland Hurling Championship #StyleOfPlay campaign there was no deference to the giants of hurling past and present.

"I see no reason why we can't be (always competitive with those established powers). Definitely, with the right structures in place - the academy structures are fairly new and I am lucky enough that I was part of the first group to come through.

Sustain

"You can see the success that we had at minor and U-21s already, and now at senior. So, if that continues there would be no reason why we can't sustain senior success as well."

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Describing their recent Allianz League title win as a "statement of intent" Morrissey sees no motivation in Limerick's historical failure to back up an All-Ireland win with another one soon after. Their 1973 win bridged a 33-year gap with a further 45 years before the account was settled last summer.

"The past definitely isn't a motivating factor for us. What we want is just to create the culture and legacy that Limerick will not just be competitive with teams, but will be competitive and winning trophies on a consistent and regular basis.

"That's why I think winning this league title was important and it showed our ambition to move forward and to win more. Human nature is to be greedy and that's definitely what we want to be over the course of the next few years and win as many medals as we can."

Morrissey scored a goal in the All-Ireland final but recognises his late impact against Kilkenny as his most important contribution of the summer.

"They were two big scores and they probably were maybe my two most significant moments over the last year. But when the team needs you, you just have to consistently deliver in your role and I just happened to be in the right position to finish off a few moves and get the points at a vital stage."

Morrissey's rise to prominence has been rapid over the last two seasons but for the previous three seasons he made just four championship appearances.

"Looking back, maybe I got a bit lucky in that I was allowed to get a lot of game-time under my belt in the Munster league and a lot in the league itself due to injuries and Na Piarsaigh being involved in the club, which allows a panel player like I was to maybe get a chance starting and get-time under his belt and a chance to actually hold onto the jersey, which is just what I managed to do. I managed to get a lot of those games, play well and solidify my position."

He has become an influential component in Limerick's puck-out strategy which saw them retain 72 per cent of their own restarts, the highest figure for any of the leading counties.

The switch to half-forward has reaped significant dividends for Limerick.

"You just get more familiar with the lads around, your own playing style and system the team is trying to play. Management also found a good role in the team for me. I spent a lot of my early years on the panel and a lot of my underage hurling in the full-forward line. They had a look at me in this half-forward role and it just seemed to suit me and go with my strong attributes."

He cast doubt as to whether an All-Ireland title win like theirs could be described as 'life-changing' and while it brought "positivity" to Limerick, they still lead very ordinary lives.

"While a lot of the people might see us playing in front of the big crowds, or at Croke Park, a lot of us like myself are just students, or working Monday to Friday, just living very normal lives, like everybody else, the rest of the time."

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