Walter Walsh takes issue with Jackie Tyrrell over Limerick jibe
Jackie Tyrrell may think Limerick are not a top three side, but former Kilkenny team-mate Walter Walsh has taken issue with that stance - saying that John Kiely's squad is 'right up there' among the best and will be hard beaten in 2019.
In the lead-up to Sunday's national league clash at Nowlan Park, Tyrrell predicted the downfall of the Treaty men, but the manner of their nine-point win suggests the All-Ireland champions have maintained the standards which took them all the way last year.
Walsh made his comeback in that game and the 27-year-old was impressed by the way Limerick have started 2019 with three wins from three as they top Division 1A.
But the three-time All-Ireland winners also thinks there is also a lot of teams near the same standard in the chase for Liam MacCarthy honours. "Look, it's kind of hard to know who is where. Looking at yesterday's performance Limerick are definitely right up there," said Walsh, who's a teacher at Good Counsel College in New Ross.
"It is February now, but they are playing a great brand of hurling. They are extremely organised and they will be there or thereabouts.
"The way it is there is nearly a top eight or nine teams, that's kind of the way it is in hurling at the moment. It is seriously competitive.
"Maybe ten or 15 years ago there was more All-Ireland teams coming back after enjoying the celebrations. But it's gone so competitive now. Even in the Limerick squad the guys are pushing each other and driving each other on. They all want to be on the team.
"You see that when Galway won last year as well. They came back in great shape as well. You kind of have to. If you don't, the league, you won't be that competitive in it, and that might follow on into the championship.
"Again, see Dublin in the football, they don't celebrate too much. They are focused, doing their gym programmes or whatever, keeping fit. That's the way it's gone now."
A home defeat is never digested well in Kilkenny, and Brian Cody's side will hope to improve this weekend when they head to Thurles to face Tipperary.
Neither side have shone brightly at this early stage of the campaign, but Walsh sees this game as a chance to pick up a win that could propel them on to further success.
"It's hard to judge how we are at this stage. We have won one game in three and that's what you look at. We have blooded in a lot of younger players as well, which a lot of teams have done.
"In your home ground you want to be winning - you want to win every game and don't want to be losing home games. There is something about that as well. There was no chairs being thrown, but there was definitely some positives to be taken from the game. We've plenty of areas to work on."