Friday 20 April 2018

Burke urges Tribesmen to banish Thurles memories

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

IN tonight's All-Ireland U-21 semi-final clash in Thurles (6.0), Galway and Limerick will find that their needs are equal -- but very different.

Recently, age grade hurling has provided solace for the Tribesmen after the senior side's struggles.

In Limerick, they know from past experience that U-21 success doesn't guarantee anything, though it might help persuade Donal O'Grady to stay on with the seniors.

Limerick enter tonight's game after a triumphant Munster campaign that culminated in an epic final win over Cork, while Galway are facing their first competitive game of the year.

And while the senior side's move into Leinster has been widely welcomed, David Burke -- who was part of two Galway sides to lose All-Ireland minor finals -- isn't convinced the underage sides should follow suit.

"We've been answering this question for a while and it's kind of the same every year," said Burke, who was described by Westmeath boss Brian Hanley as one of the finest hurlers he had seen.

"Galway teams have got into the routine at minor and U-21 that they play their couple of challenge matches and they're coming in fresher than most teams. It kind of stands to them some days. We're getting success at that age group, so why change?"

Limerick know all about being both prolific and profligate. They return to the last four of this competition for the first time since 2002, when they went on to win their third successive All-Ireland title at U-21 level. But that success translated to just a single All-Ireland final appearance at senior level, in 2007.

"Galway have some very good players," said one of the new breed in Limerick, Kevin Downes, who has been named in the starting 15 despite concerns over his hand injury.

"We've played them twice in challenge games. I know they've been playing a lot of games. I'm sure they'll be ready for a battle as well and we're 100pc focused now.

"We have to be focused and not get too carried away. We've put the Munster success to the back of our minds."

The Munster final will stay with those who watched it for years to come. Drawing a line of form to last year's All-Ireland champions Tipperary, who were beaten by Cork, it marks out Leo O'Connor's Limerick side -- who are without half-back Cathal McNamara -- as a formidable outfit.

"You wouldn't really pay as much attention when you're playing in the game itself, you're concentrating so much, but looking back on the game it was incredible," said Downes.

"It definitely was one of the best games. Hopefully now that will give us confidence going on in the championship."

A possible return to the All-Ireland final for Galway -- where Burke admitted they were "humiliated" by a Tipperary team playing in Thurles less than a week after the seniors landed the Liam MacCarthy Cup -- provides ample motivation for the Tribesmen.

"If you look at that Tipp team that demolished us, most of them were the main part of the senior team that won the final, so it was a difficult task -- and going to Thurles in their back yard, it was even harder," said Burke.

"The few goals they got at the start just drove them on. I think we had 12 wides in the first half.

"But we were humiliated below in Thurles in front of the whole of Tipperary county.

"We're still hurting inside after that defeat. All the players that were there last year on the panel are still there and they're up for this match and want to make amends for last year."

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport