Limerick hurling is facing into a massive week. On Sunday, their senior hurlers take on Galway in Salthill, with the winners gaining promotion to Division 1A for 2019. To put the scale of the game in context, the Treaty haven’t been in hurling’s top tier since 2010.
Six days later, the hurlers of Na Piarsaigh face off against Cuala in Croke Park, eager to claim their second AIB All-Ireland title in three years.
Given the success coming in from all quarters, these are exciting times for the small ball in the county. Na Piarsaigh and Limerick star Kevin Downes was speaking today ahead of the AIB All-Ireland Club Championship final, and expressed his delight at the trajectory which Limerick hurling is on right now.
“Even going to league games this year and looking at the way they’re playing, there seems to be a great system of play there at the moment. Everyone seems to know their role and performances have been very good. They’re unbeaten in the league and it’s set up for a big one against Galway on Sunday.
“Definitely, things seem to be there with Ardscoil Rís, with the U21 successes, ourselves winning it (the All-Ireland Club Championship) in 2016 and winning a couple of Munsters, Kilmallock have won a couple of Munster clubs, so things should be there.
“There has to be a group of players there and enough talent to be able to do something. It’s a case of getting this together, getting the right balance and getting a couple of wins. You can see the wins in the league breeds a bit of confidence and belief, it backs up everything you’re doing in training and makes going back training the next week that bit easier so it definitely fills you with a bit of belief.
“Things seem to be going in the right direction and it’s a very good set-up there with John (Kiely) and Paul Kinnerk doing the training so things seem to be there, it’s only up to the players to produce it.”
Na Piarsaigh’s success is backed up by a spine of intercounty stars, who will no doubt bolster John Kiely’s hand after St Patrick’s Day. There are ten players involved in the two set-ups, but many others have made a name for themselves in the National Hurling League thus far. Upon their return, there will be fierce competition for places.
“It’s a headache for John Kiely. I’m sure he’s delighted to have a Limerick team above in Croke Park when there’s an All-Ireland final, but it’s very difficult for him and us having so many there that aren’t involved in the panel.
“Then we’ll come back after St Patrick’s Day and it’s a short enough window to championship then especially with the club’s month as it is in April so it’s going to be difficult. How it’s going to pan out, I’m not too sure but once the club thing is over we’ll have to go back and try to hit the ground running. They’re in good form at the moment so we’ll have to be chomping at the bit and try and stake our claim when we’re back in the short window we have.”
John Kiely and Co. will be hoping to have secured Division 1A hurling for 2019 upon the Na Piarsaigh contingent’s return. Sunday’s game with Galway is simply massive.
Na Piarsaigh’s Kevin Downes was speaking ahead of the AIB GAA All-Ireland Senior Hurling Club Championship Final taking place at Croke Park on Saturday, 17th of March where the Limerick club will face Dublin’s Cuala.
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