It’s been two months since Limerick lifted the Liam MacCarthy Cup for the first time in 45 years. Since then, the county has been revelling in the success with parties and celebrations still ongoing. For the players involved, they are happy to soak in these precious moments, leaving thoughts of 2019 for the future.
Nothing compares to the feeling of winning your first All Ireland, especially for a county that lives and breathes sport. For Tom Morrissey, it has been a surreal and incredible experience.
“I know I said after the All Ireland final that it wasn’t an unbelievable feeling winning the match but I think everything after that was definitely unbelievable. The moments that we had at the banquet, in particular, the homecoming in the Gaelic Grounds and all the homecomings, just seeing what it means to the people of Limerick, that is in itself, unbelievable. It’s only in moments like that that you really realise it and it makes you feel happy inside.”
“The week after the All Ireland, it was fairly lawless, I think everyone was on such a high. It’s been a long wait and I think if we ever do add to what we’ve won this year, nothing will come close or compare to it. The celebrations that followed, the good feelings, the good vibes around Limerick, when I look back on it, they were absolutely ridiculous and something that I don’t think we’ll ever experience the likes of again.”
For John Kiely’s men, it wasn’t an unbelievable feeling to win the match because they knew that they should, and would.
Their mental strength and confidence were much remarked upon before, during and after the game. A young team, for many their first senior final, had a lot of hurling fans assuming that the pressure of facing the All-Ireland champions on the biggest day of the year in Croke Park would be too much. But the players were thinking the exact opposite. In fact, they ‘thrived’ off the enormity of the task.
“I think possibly people were saying that we were a bit ahead of our time winning this year but as a player, you’re not thinking about your own age, you’re thinking, why not win now? They were thinking that this was going to be a few years of a project but as a player, your career is such a short time-frame, there’s really no time to be wasting building and building, at some stage you actually have to win and be successful.”
“I think there’s an absolutely huge winning mentality within that group. As players coming up, we’ve been successful at underage, it’s just transitioned into senior level. We don’t really have that fear of losing or playing the so-called traditional powerhouse teams or of the big stage, I think we nearly thrive on it more than anything.”
“Also then you look at the management team, they create that culture as well. I think they really blended well with us and having the older, more experienced lads as well and that culture was, I won’t say created but developed then by them. That’s really where we got our belief and confidence this year.”
Although planning for next year’s championship isn’t on the agenda for a while yet, what is to the forefront of their minds is their desire to win another All Ireland title.
When you become the best team in the country, where do you go from there? Well, for Morrissey and co., they look to the Kilkenny team of the last decade for inspiration.
“Just because we’ve reached the pinnacle doesn’t mean that you can’t stop. I suppose what everyone’s trying to emulate, and I don’t think anyone will, is that Kilkenny team that we’ve just seen with the amount of All Ireland’s that they’ve won. You have to try and sustain that success. It’s very difficult, we’ve seen a lot of teams that have won one in recent years and they have found it difficult to add to that one.”
“That has to be our aim and we have to make sure that we don’t make the same mistakes that they do. There is a lot of talent in that team and it would be a shame not to add to the one title we have. If you ask me now, am I going to finish my career with one All Ireland? I’d tell you straight up, I’d be a very disappointed man.”
Last year was one of the most competitive championships of all time with the new round-robin system.
Now into its second year, its hoped that all the kinks will be ironed out and the standard of hurling will top that of last year. And when a county like Limerick, that would have been written off by many, won the All Ireland, who is to say that any of the counties outside the top three can’t do the same? With that sense of possibility, Limerick are expecting teams to come at them harder than ever.
But just as they did in winning the All Ireland and dealing with the madness that accompanies that, they will no doubt take such a challenge in their stride.
Clare’s Podge Collins, Cork’s Daniel Kearney, Limerick’s Tom Morrissey and Wexford’s Conor McDonald were at the Aer Lingus Hangar 6 at Dublin Airport this morning where Aer Lingus, in partnership with the GAA and GPA, unveiled a one-of-a-kind customised playing kit for the Fenway Hurling Classic which takes place at Fenway Park in Boston on November 18th. Aer Lingus will once again be the Official Airline of the event and will be responsible for flying the four teams to Boston.