2018 treated us to a feast of hurling with Limerick ending a 45-year famine by lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup after a nail-biting final against Galway. Many would assume that the players would still be revelling in their success, but on the contrary, Limerick full-forward, Seamus Flanagan, has long since put the celebrations behind him and is itching to take to the field once again.
It was quite a year for the 21-year-old who was a relatively unknown entity outside of the county until last January, when he was handed his Limerick senior debut by John Kiely in a Munster Senior Hurling League encounter with Cork in Mallow. A game he is not likely to forget anytime soon.
“I remember I was more nervous for that game than I was for the All-Ireland final and that’s no joke.”
“It was my first time getting a jersey off John Kiely. I was sitting beside Nickie Quaid and I was as white as a ghost. I thought I was going to get sick and he just said to relax and take it in my stride. I got on well enough in that game and I think I started every game from then to the All-Ireland final.”
In total, Flanagan scored 3-30 for Limerick in all competitions last year while also putting in impressive performances for UCD in the Fitzgibbon Cup. He was one of many young hurlers featured in John Kiely’s team last summer, who all tasted All Ireland success at U21 and minor level together.
Flanagan knows that the team will have a target on their backs now as other teams join the hunt for All Ireland glory, but that doesn’t bother him in the slightest as he looks to use his underage experience to their advantage.
“Playing as All Ireland champions, there’s always a target on your back but we’re going to take that in our stride, we’re a young team, we’ve had that in U21s, we’ve had that in minor, what’s it again in senior? So it’s huge but whatever, we’re going to take that on our backs and take it in our stride and bring on anyone who wants to take us on.”
“What’s one All Ireland when you’re 21? There’s a long career ahead and I’m looking to put back-to-back, if not more, together. You win one, you’re like that Clare team in 2013, you’re forgotten about again. It took them so long to get back there whereas we want to be back there next year.”
That unbeatable mentality was to the fore with Limerick throughout last season, from the moment they produced their stunning comeback against Galway in the Division 1B decider, and remained with them as they went on to record wins over Tipperary, Waterford, Kilkenny and Cork.
Flanagan predicts that, because of their ferocious work rate and drive, his side will be even harder to beat in 2019.
“People say our game plan is easy to read, how do you read work rate? You can’t plan for work rate and the only thing that a team can do is out-work us and no one is going to out-work us because, as much as someone else works, we’re going to work 10 times harder.”
“You can’t out-work us because we’re going to out-work anyone that we play.”
“You can plan all you want for us, mark us, drop a sweeper, drop two sweepers, but once we work harder than you, we’re going to beat you, we’re going to get those hooks, get those blocks, get those scores and I don’t know how you can plan against that.”
So clearly, the players are raring to go, the fans are counting down the days, bring on the 2019 season.
Electric Ireland launched the Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and Higher Education Championships today, announcing that Electri