John Ivory discusses five ways the current Limerick hurlers can put the disappointment of their championship exit behind them and look to 2015 for success.
The Limerick hurlers have just ended another successful year, albeit, in sickening defeat. Many will feel they have continued along the right trajectory towards success in the near future.
In order to keep progressing towards glory, there are a number of essential things the Treaty Men must do between now and the 2015 Championship.
1. Keep T.J. Ryan
It shouldn’t even be in doubt. However, with the Limerick County board, you may never know. There were countless sceptics of Ryan when Donal O’Grady resigned before the Championship, and rightly so. He hadn’t proven himself at the highest level.
Following Sunday, there can be absolutely no doubt that T.J. Ryan is the man to lead limerick into 2015. He is a revered former player, talented manager, respected by fans and players alike, and no man will surpass him in the passion stakes.
Editor’s Note: T.J. Ryan has subsequently been handed a new three-year term.
2. Nurture Kevin Downes
Said with no intent to patronise the man at all. However, he is low on confidence and needs a boost. 2014 was not the Na Piarsaigh man’s year. He was never found wanting for effort but he couldn’t score like he usually does (just 0-3 in four games).
Many said after Sunday’s defeat to Kilkenny that Limerick need to find a goal scorer, but this writer firmly believe sthey have one in an on-song Downes. Limerick’s management need to build him up, remind him of his ability, and they could reap huge rewards next summer.
3. Introduce Minors
Limerick have enjoyed a few seasons of success with this current team, but they must be wary of complacency within the squad. Competition is essential, and evolution is necessary. With back-to-back Munster minor title winners coming through, the best young lads need to be introduced into the senior fray, so they can learn to deal with match day rigmarole when they’re carefree.
Young players who know how to win will increase competition in the squad, and Ryan should not hesitate to try them out next season.
4. Retain Donal O’Grady (Captain)
The captain is a natural leader, and a big part of the team at thirty four. O’Grady was well able to mix it with Kilkenny throughout Sunday’s splash-fest. When the going gets tough, he is often on hand to strike over a point and keep the team composed.
Justin McCarthy gutted an experienced Limerick side in 2008 and it ruined hurling in the county for a couple of seasons, so it’s imperative that Limerick keep O’Grady around, so they’re not bereft of leaders.
Limerick are good enough to win an All-Ireland. Plain and simple. The ‘’Croke Park hoodoo’’, for this team is well and truly broken. In the last couple of months, they have defeated Tipperary, trounced a fancied Wexford side, been very close to Cork, having defeated them last year, and have also given Kilkenny their closest shave in years, (in games Kilkenny have won).
Assuming T.J. Ryan stays on, he will have a full preseason and league to mould this team exactly the way he wants; full of passion, belief, and skill.
The Shannonsiders proved that last year’s flop against Clare was not the end for them. Hurling needs Limerick to stick around, and with this current crop, they have an excellent chance of doing so.
John Ivory, Pundit Arena.