Cregan fires broadside over Limerick's lack of progress
LIMERICK legend Eamonn Cregan has delivered a damning verdict on the county's senior hurling team, insisting that no progress is being made.
However, the 1973 All-Ireland winner has backed John Allen's team selection for Sunday's Munster championship semi-final against Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds. Allen has caused a stir by leaving Kevin Downes and Shane Dowling out of his starting line-up. Dowling scored 0-8 and Downes hit two points when the sides met last year in Thurles.
The Shannonsiders beat Kilkenny in a recent challenge match but former boss Cregan is reading nothing into that.
A frustrated Cregan fumed: "I'm sick and tired of moral victories. We've had them for God knows how long. Limerick have to win – that's the only acceptable thing for me and all of us supporting Limerick."
Cregan believes that the recent form shown by Downes and Dowling left Allen with no choice but to drop them.
"You have to pick a team based on form. They don't seem to be on form at the moment and reputations mean nothing," said Cregan, who guided Mary Immaculate College to a historic Fitzgibbon Cup final appearance this year.
"I'm disappointed with the progress of the present group of players. I'll give you an example – we played Dublin in the Division 1B league final and we put Declan Hannon at full-forward and what did we do? We started going for long-range points.
"What's the fuzzy thinking behind that? He's in again next Sunday and needs proper ball. If I was a full-forward on the Limerick team I'd be frustrated because it takes so long for the damned ball to come in."
Cregan, who managed Offaly to All-Ireland glory against his native county in 1994, has also warned that Limerick's lack of matches against top-class opposition could return to haunt them against Tipp.
"We need to get into the game from the very start," he said. "We're still down in the second division. That means that we're playing at a standard of hurling lower than what it would normally be. It may take 15-20 minutes to adapt and if Tipp get seven, eight or nine points ahead, we may as well throw our hats at it."
Cregan was concerned by the manner of Limerick's defeat in Thurles last Friday evening when the counties met in the Bord Gais Energy Munster U-21 Championship quarter-final.
"We had a good team last year and a good team this year but they're not performing," he said. "I don't understand the mentality of players. If players think that because they've got a reputation that they can just coast around the field, then they shouldn't be on the field. We have a few of those."