Limerick’s return to Division 1A has proved to be very fruitful so far this season having recorded two impressive wins over Wexford and Tipperary.
However, despite their impressive start, former attacker, Andrew O’Shaughnessy, believes it’d be stupid to suggest that the All-Ireland champions are miles ahead of the chasing pack considering that a single puck of the sliothar would have changed the whole trajectory of last year’s Championship.
“They’re All-Ireland champions. They deserve to be where they are. They’ve made the most impressive start in the league. It’s a long year yet, you’d be stupid to think they’d be miles ahead because last year’s championship, anyone could have won from the last six (teams),” he said.
“Small little things, Nickie Quaid’s save against Cork… Cork could have been in the All-Ireland final. Would they have won? They could have. They had a chance. Similarly enough, Clare hit the post against Galway. Every team is so even, that’s why the championship was so good last year.
“There are no standout teams, it’s just whoever gets the break on the day.”
O’Shaughnessy believes that the Treatymen have approached the league in the correct fashion this year with their strong start, but does not buy into the claims that this Limerick team are more advanced physically than their opponents.
“Yeah, Liam Sheedy said after they beat Tipperary that they’re obviously that bit more advanced in their physical preparation but I find it hard to see how they could be that bit more advanced because they were on three holidays between the All-Stars, Boston and then their own holiday so I think every team is starting the same, fitness wise.
“They’re getting a good start. Are they going too early? I’m not too sure but again, as young fellas you go out to win every match whether that’s league or championship, it all goes well if you’re successful.”
Before last year, success was hard to come by in Limerick having not won an All-Ireland since 1973. After beating Cork in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, Shane Dowling called upon his teammates to not make the same mistakes they had in 2007 when they were obliterated by Kilkenny.
O’Shaughnessy played on that team in 2007 and admits that Dowling sentiments were bang on the money.
“100%,” he said.
“I remember in the warm-up (before the 2007 All-Ireland final) and in a certain part of the drill, one of the lads turned around to me and I was saying, ‘come on, do what you’re supposed to do.’ And he said to me, ‘here I don’t know what’s going on,’ and he was going out and playing.
“Obviously you get caught up in the emotion of the day. They did as well to a certain extent but at the same time, they were focused and they had a better bit of structure to it in their organisation prior to it.”
It’s Kilkenny who lie in wait this weekend as Limerick travel to Nowlan Park looking to maintain their 100 percent start to life in Division 1A.
The Kilmallock man believes that the awe factor that Kilkenny once had has now been eradicated and that Limerick no longer fear playing hurling’s aristocrats.
“Yes, I think when they lost to them two years ago in Nowlan Park, they played superbly but just didn’t have that belief. Last year, after Richie Hogan’s goal you’d imagine ‘same old Limerick’ but they came back with Tom Morrissey’s point and they were quite impressive.
“I would think that their attitude is that they’re not going up to play Kilkenny, they’re just going out to play another match. if you focus too much on the team you’re playing, you’ve already lost. Acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses and take every game week by week.”
Going forward into 2019, Limerick will be looking to retain the Liam MacCarthy cup for the first time in their history and O’Shaughnessy believes the biggest threat to their crown lies closer to home than you would think.
“Limerick. Any team you go out, well this is obviously only my own viewpoint, if you don’t perform to your own ability, to the best of your ability, you think you’ve arrived at a destination where you think you’re fantastic but if you don’t develop, improve, you’re always going to be the biggest factor.
“You’re told from U14 up that the only team that’s going to beat ye is yourselves and invariably, it is. While it’s a cliche, it’s probably true”.
The new series of Laochra Gael begins on 20 February on TG4 at 9.30pm. The series features six Laochra with genuine star quality and reveals deeper, fresh and sometimes unexpected insights into the lives of these icons.
Episode one will focus on Kilkenny legend Jackie Tyrrell.