Former Limerick star Shane Dowling believes that the current crop of players have been built up too much in the media as they prepare for their second All-Ireland Final in three years.
On Sunday, John Kiely’s Limerick side will go into battle against Waterford as favourites having been viewed as the ‘team to beat’ since their memorable win over Galway in 2018, bridging a 45-year gap.
Many of the current group have won underage medals together but Dowling believes that the talk that this is a “once in a lifetime team” is “nonsense”.
“I personally think over the last two or three months, the media have been building Limerick up to fall to be honest.
“People have been making them out to be this team, or this group of players, who are once in a lifetime team in the country, let alone in Limerick, which is total nonsense.
“They’re a very, very good committed hurling team, that work very hard, I know that myself. I do believe the media got carried away in how they’ve built them up and I think the management team are doing a fantastic job in trying to knock out the outside noise.”
Limerick won back-to-back Munster Championship titles this year but were somewhat criticised for the manner of their performance in the final against Waterford. In their All-Ireland semi-final against Galway that talk continued as many pointed towards their lack of goals in both games.
The 2018 All-Star winner maintains that Limerick are not as far ahead of other counties as people expect.
“They’re a good team, but Waterford are a very good team too and I think there’ll only be a couple of points either way on Sunday. If they were beating teams by 20 odd points every day they went out, maybe then you’d look at that argument.
“People go on about Limerick not playing great against Galway, not playing great against Waterford, but do people not realise the opposition that they’re taking on? They’re a good side. But so are Waterford. That argument will be put to bed on Sunday.”
Having lost the Munster Final, Waterford took the more scenic route to the All-Ireland decider, overcoming Clare in the quarter-final before producing a stunning comeback against Kilkenny in the penultimate round.
Liam Cahill’s side stuttered through the first-half and found themselves seven points adrift at the break. However, they were a transformed side in the second period with an outstanding performance from Stephen Bennett helping them to a four-point win.
Dowling doesn’t believe that Waterford will show any of the nerves that hindered them during that first-half when they take to Croke Park on Sunday.
“I think [the game will be] something similar to the Munster final in terms of physicality, tackles, turnovers, work rate – it’s what the game is built on now, it’s what Waterford did in the second half against Kilkenny. It’s not that they didn’t do it in the first half, I just thought that they looked a bit nervous.
“I think they got that out of their system. I don’t think they’ll be as nervous the next day going to Croker, I’m expecting a hard, physical game.
“People say that Limerick made a lot of mistakes against Waterford, the reason they made them though is because Waterford put them under so much pressure, and I’d expect that to happen on both sides. I don’t think it’s going to be free-flowing, with scores coming in handy. I think you’ll earn your scores as that’s just the way both teams play.”
Throw-in at Croke Park is 3.30pm.