Sport Hurling

Saturday 24 February 2018

Limerick should not fear Kilkenny -- Cregan

Limerick manager John Allen celebrates after the final whistle. Photo: Sportsfile
Limerick manager John Allen celebrates after the final whistle. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Limerick hurling manager John Allen has constructed a squad with the "right attitude", according to one of his predecessors Eamonn Cregan.

And Cregan believes the county are on a "pathway" to success, but where or how far it takes them, he admits, he can't be sure.

"I don't know how far it can go, but I know it's the right direction that we are taking and people in Limerick are happy with that," he said. "I see a Limerick hurling squad now with the right attitude. They want to play for Limerick and they want to learn."

Cregan predicted a Limerick win over Clare in their recent third-round qualifier and what he saw pleased him as much as anything else about the current crop that represent his county.

"Clare had beaten them every time they played this year, but I felt it was only because they were fitter. That wasn't going to last forever," he said.

"But in any local rivalry, you are not going to allow your neighbours to beat you a fourth or a fifth time in consecutive games. And that's why I felt so strongly that they would win."

Acknowledging that Kilkenny may end Limerick's interest in the 2012 championship, he insists they should have nothing to fear on Sunday.

"Watching the way Galway played against them they didn't stand under the dropping ball, they moved on to it all the time and then moved the ball quickly when they had it. It has set every other team thinking," he added.

"Naturally, we'll see a different Kilkenny. You only had to look down on the faces of the players, their amazement as they looked up and saw someone else with the cup. It's something they're not very used to.

"But whatever happens, we are going in the right direction as a county. These players are only learning the game and they are going to make mistakes."

Cregan admits that losing the Munster U-21 semi-final to Tipperary last week was a "setback," but feels that Allen's policy of introducing so many young players to the senior squad will reap further dividends in the future. The current squad's average age is just 23.3.

"He did the right thing at the start in bringing in so much fresh blood, players that want to play with Limerick," he said. "He has relied a lot on his selectors and they have worked well together as a team."

However, Cregan does feel that Limerick will suffer because of the current league structures. "I have no doubt we won't continue to make the same rate of progress next spring that we should be making on the back of this championship campaign because of the set-up of the league," he said.

"It's fine if you have 32 counties hurling, but you don't. You only have 12 or 14 hurling at a certain level and they need to be together. We have an awful habit in the GAA of making mistakes and, I feel, this is one of the biggest."

Irish Independent

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