5 talking points after Limerick confirmed their status as one of hurling’s great teams

September 14, 2021 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Updated Dec 13th 2020, 9:48 PM

1. Limerick confirm their greatness

IT’S BEEN SOME three-year run for Limerick. They’ve amassed two National League, Munster and All-Ireland titles during that spell. Today’s 11-point win over Waterford confirmed what we long suspected: Limerick are finest hurling side in the land.

Limerick’s Aaron Gillane and Diarmaid Byrnes celebrate after the game.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Only for a one-point All-Ireland semi-final loss to Kilkenny last year, when Limerick should have been awarded a last second 65 to level the game, they might well have delivered the three-in-a-row this afternoon.

During media interviews in recent weeks, Limerick players spoke about their hunger to win as much silverware as possible during this golden period. Like two years ago, when players like Tom Morrissey spoke about “creating their own history”, Limerick have been vocal in their determination to cement their legacy as a great team by winning multiple All-Irelands. 

Once again, it sounds like a mantra drilled into them by Caroline Currid, the team’s sports psychologist. 

Limerick won 10 games from 10 across league and championship in 2020, saving one of their best performances for last. They were even victorious in their three Munster League pre-season games. Their five championship ties were won by a combined 37 points.

There can be no doubting Limerick’s greatness now.

2. Waterford’s missed goal chances

Limerick goalkeeper Nickie Quaid makes a save.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The consensus coming into this game was that the Deise needed to score goals in order to win.

They had a handful of goal chances in the first period, though their second-half opportunities were more pot shots and not quite as clear cut. When Jack Fagan broke through and fizzed an early chance wide, it was a sign of things to come. He was crowded out when another goal opportunity brielfy presented itself shortly after.

Dessie Hutchinson might have troubled the net had he not been fouled cyncially by Declan Hannon. Stephen Bennett was blocked down by Diarmaid Byrnes and then forced a good save from Nickie Quaid.

“Nickie Quaid for the last decade has just been immense for Limerick. Immense,” gushed John Kiely after the game.

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Waterford were intent on going for goals but they weren’t clincial enough to beat Quaid and paid the price.

3. Blow of de Burca injury

Waterford’s Tadhg De Burca after suffering a first-half injury.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

While young player Iarlaith Daly gave a very good account of himself after his 21st minute introduction, the loss of Tadhg de Burca was a hammer blow for Liam Cahill’s side. 

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If it turns out to be a serious knee injury, it will be rough justice on a player who diligently worked his way back from an ACL tear during the 2019 club championship.

De Burca appeared to lose his footing on one leg and his other one got caught in the turf. He left the field looking like a man fearing the worst once again. A scan in the coming days will reveal the extend of the damage.

4. Hegarty and Morrissey magic

Gearoid Hegarty glides across the surface.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Gearoid Hegarty’s seven point haul from play landed him man of the match and puts him as the odds-on favourite to win Hurler of the Year.

He was set-up on a number of occasions by Tom Morrissey, who finished with 0-5 himself and backed up his commanding semi-final display with another powerful game. With a man of the match award attained after the win over Galway, he is the most likely winner of the award outside of Hegarty.

Hegarty and Morrissey are key components of the Limerick engine room and pick off scores almost at will from the flanks. But that doesn’t mean they shy away from the dity work.

Elsewhere Seamus Flanagan paid back Kiely’s faith in him with three points and Aaron Gillane shot 0-10, four from play. To finish an All-Ireland final with 30 scores was an outstanding attacking display from Limerick.

5. The present and future is Limerick’s

John Kiely has delivered two senior All-Ireland titles in three years.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The age profile of this Limerick side means they are well set-up to build a dynasty over the coming years. Gearoid Hegarty (26), Tom Morrissey, Aaron Gillane, Sean Finn, Cian Lynch (all 24), Seamus Flanagan (23) and Kyle Hayes (22) are all on the right side of their prime years.

They appear hungry for more success led by Kiely, who has mastermined two All-Ireland wins in his first four seasons as senior boss. 

In Declan Hannon they’ve a solid captain who leads by example on the field in his understated way. And they’ve got the best strength in depth in the country, with forwards of the calibre of Peter Casey and Pat Ryan introduced off the bench.

The players spoke this year about backing up their 2018 triumph. They’ll enjoy the Christmas but, before long, 2021 will roll around.

And Limerick’s attention will turn to total domination, à la Kilkenny in the noughties.