Their time is now


Limerick Hurling Press Event and Squad Training - Monday 8th JulyTHERE is an uneasy feeling in Limerick this week. No, not the heat, but a favourites tag.
John Allen’s Limerick team head into this weekend’s Munster Senior Hurling final with the unusual pressure of being favourites against Cork.
If you are to compare traditions and rolls of honour, there is no comparison. Since 1893 Cork and Limerick have been meeting in these encounters, 21 in all. Limerick have won 5, Cork have won 14.
The 2013 Munster Senior Hurling Final will be the third occasion that Cork and Limerick have met in a Munster Final hosted at a Limerick venue. Cork have won the previous finals in Limerick soil in 1919 and 1975.
Limerick have won just one of their last ten Munster Finals versus Cork dating back to 1944. That sole victory came in the 1980 Final with Limerick winning by 2-14 to 2-10 in Semple Stadium Thurles. Limerick subsequently lost the All-Ireland Final to Galway.
Limerick’s last victory over Cork in a Munster Championship game was on May 27, 2001 in a Quarter-Final played at Pairc Uí Chaoimh, Limerick 1-16 Cork 1-15.
So, why are Limerick favourites? Good question. Home advantage is a factor, as is the under 21 Munster title win two seasons ago against the same opposition.
The real reason Limerick are favourites, in my view, is that they have produced the performance of the championship so far this year.
Limerick’s 70 plus minutes against Tipperary has set the bar for others to reach.
Yes, Tipperary and Kilkenny was a good game. Dublin and Kilkenny also. The Limerick game versus Tipperary however, was a performance that opened the eyes of GAA fans countrywide.
Cork’s win over Clare on the other hand, was a poor fare. Yes, there were high scores, but to compare both games side by side, there was no comparison.
The aim for Limerick players this Sunday is to try and produce that same intensity which saw off Tipperary.
With only 4 Munster championship wins from 22 games since 2000, Limerick have no right to be complacent or cocky. Neither do the fans. This is why the favourites tag hangs so heavily.
Limerick are not used to be expected to win. Yes, we can all hope and expect, but the Limerick panel know, this is their time to deliver.
If I take you back to last season for a moment. Limerick lead Tipperary in Thurles for almost 55 minutes. They lost.
Limerick went on to defeat Offaly, Wexford and Clare, before leading once more against Kilkenny, before losing.
The reasons to be confident about this weekend come from those results.
Having spoken to the players before the Tipperary game, you knew they were going to win. They had set and met their targets in terms of conditioning and hurling. The only question which remained was, were they right mentally?
We all know the answer now and that is why I would give them the edge this weekend.
Cork are no pushovers, but this is their first year on a long road to rebuilding. Limerick have been putting the right blocks in place for several seasons now. It has all been for this. This is their time now and they will deliver.