Limerick hurlers already look like the team to beat for Cork and the rest

Limerick hurlers already look like the team to beat for Cork and the rest
ádraic Mannion of Galway in action against Gearoid Hegarty of Limerick last weekend. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

AS well as delivering strong statements on the field, Limerick hurlers are putting themselves in the picture off it too.

In last Monday’s Irish Examiner there is a fine photograph of the players lined along the sideline signing autographs for supporters in the aftermath of their national league win over Galway.

It’s easier, of course, to do these exercises after winning but this was a fine PR job by the Limerick players.

Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

In the closed season there was plenty of the other type of publicity that team boss John Kiely could have done without, one an incident in New York involving a few players.

These things happen and the only way to counteract them is by what you do on the field of play.

And Limerick are certainly doing that right now, winning the pre-season Munster League and their two national league games to date In those two games they have beaten two of their main rivals for the big prizes this season, Tipperary and Galway.

In both games the performance was contrasting, fierce flat in the first-half against Tipperary before turning the ship around completely thereafter.

Last Sunday they always looked to have the measure of Galway and won convincingly.

There’s competition for starting places in every county but at this particular time it seems to be that more intense in Limerick.

You had the likes of David Demsey winning a great ball in the air on Sunday and crashing home a fine goal as a result.

David Reidy has come back into the team and putting up the scores while Seamus Flanagan might be recapturing the form he exhibited in 2018.

David Reidy.
David Reidy.

You had Aaron Costello doing well at corner-back and you had Diarmuid Byrnes, Aaron Gillane and Cian Lynch starting on the bench.

That’s an illustration of the competition for starting places.

Even though Tipperary ended up last season as All-Ireland champions there was a school of thought around that Limerick, who hammered Tipp in the Munster final, were a better team.

That’s not here nor there but they seem determined, even at this very early stage in the season, to go out and prove that this time.

Their physicality was in evidence too against a strangely off colour Galway, one incident illustrating that when Gearoid Hegarty blew Joe Canning out over the sideline.

It was pointed out too that after losing to Kilkenny in last season’s All-Ireland semi-final that they might end up like Clare, a sort of one season team after their 2013 victory.

Nobody really believed that and nobody believes it now and this Limerick team and squad remains a serious outfit.

You had over 14,000 in the Gaelic Grounds last Sunday which showed that the Limerick public are fully behind this team.

Even in the Munster League they had big support.

The bottom line seems to be that Limerick are motoring again and their trip to Leeside in a few weeks time is eagerly awaited.

They could have six points bagged by then if they defeat Waterford and Cork should have four after defeating Westmeath.

That would set it up very nicely with John Kiely very mindful of the fact that Cork secured the wins last season in both the league and the championship.

Going into their championship clash, again in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Kiely will not want another loss and Cork’s qualification for the knockout stages of the league may well hinge on that result Last season Limerick held the Munster championship, All -Ireland and the national league all at the one time and looked the part in all areas.

But it all came unstuck against Kilkenny in Croke Park as it did for Cork against the same opposition in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

In the aftermath of the win over Galway, Kiely was asked about the sin-bin being introduced into hurling.

He instantly dismissed it, stating that hurling was doing just fine at the moment.

He was spot on, why change it if it’s not broken and it’s time to stop doing any more messing with the greatest field game on earth.

And what is wrong with some manly challenges being out in, the type we saw in the Gaelic Grounds last Sunday.

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