Monday 16 July 2018

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England ENG 1

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Belgium BEL 2

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'Treaty need promotion more than Tribesmen'

Limerick's Kevin Downes Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Limerick's Kevin Downes Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Sam Wheeler

Kevin Downes claims that Sunday's Allianz NHL Division 1B promotion showdown in Pearse Stadium means more to Limerick than to Galway.

Both sides go into the game with 100pc records after four games, but Treaty star Downes - who misses out as he prepares for Na Piarsaigh's AIB All-Ireland Club SHC clash with Cuala - reckons that Limerick need a return to the top flight more than the Tribesmen.

"We've been in the second tier since 2011," he said. "That's too long; it's not good for player development.

"If you're Galway, you're All-Ireland champions, you've been away on your holiday… I wouldn't imagine being in 1B is the end of the world. I'm sure they'd love to get back up, of course they would, but for Limerick, if we could get up there for a couple of years, it would be a big help to give players experience in the top league."

The 10 county panel members in the Na Piarsaigh side have had little involvement with John Kiely's side this year, bar the odd gym session, but Downes has been impressed with what he has seen from afar.

"Everything seems to be going in the right direction," he said. "We've been saying in Limerick for a number of years, all the ingredients are there, it's a matter of putting them all together.

"If you look from the outside, there should be plenty of players from UL, Mary I - they won two Fitzgibbons - the clubs have won Munsters, the underage teams are going well... there has to be players there; it's just about getting a balance, and a settled team.

"You can see they have a clear system of playing, everyone seems to know what they're doing."

Downes and the rest of the Na Piarsaigh contingent will be in Salthill on Sunday, watching from the stands - they will travel independently of the team.

"It is difficult, but you're absolutely thrilled to be playing in an All-Ireland final in Croke Park," said Downes. "Would I love to be playing in Galway? Of course."

Irish Independent

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