Limerick u-21 manager Pat Donnelly has praised the county’s underage structures in the wake of the Shannonsiders Munster triumph over Cork on Wednesday night.
A selector in 2011 when the Treaty beat the same opponents in the provincial decider, the South Liberties clubman has seen a lot of talent coming through the ranks.
Limerick are now bearing the fruits of the labour that has gone on over the last number of years. For many on their panel it was a fourth Munster medal – many of them won two provincial titles at minor level, while there are survivors from the 2015 Munster champions too.
“I said to the lads before the game: Seven years, it’s not seven weeks, or seven months, it’s seven years that these lads are on the road,” Donnelly said after Wednesday’s win.
“I keep saying it, you have to give it time. That was a huge win for the whole structure when you can come and win a second u-21 title. We have a couple of minors out of it as well.”
Donnelly realises that this level of success is not common on the banks of the Shannon.
“If you go back in the history of Limerick GAA, I don’t think that has been done in that period of time so we have to keep it going.”
The underage academy is headed by Joe McKenna – who played in the last Limerick team to win a senior All-Ireland – way back in 1973.
“Joe McKenna, he is the head of the whole academy structure and they are not resting on their laurels they are keeping the lads coming through and that’s what you need,” Donnelly said.
For this Limerick team now the next step is to emulate the team of two years ago – and win the All-Ireland.
“These lads, they were beaten in the minor final three years ago. Look there’s no guarantee that you will go out and win it but we’re in with a chance,” he said, as Limerick prepare to face Galway on August 19.
“They will come in fresh but we have a few hard matches behind is, we have a very hard match behind us, we’re together a long time, (so) we have no excuses – if we’re beaten, we’re beaten – but we will give it everything.”
Joel Slattery, Pundit Arena
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