GET to the Gaelic Grounds early on Sunday. There is a treat in sore. The Limerick minor hurlers will take on Waterford at 1.45pm in the Electric Ireland Munster final.
The Limerick side, managed by South Liberties man Brian Ryan, qualified for the final by defeating Tipperary 1-17 to 0-17.
With the majority of media and hurling fans expecting a Tipperary versus Waterford Final, Ryan was delighted to cause an upset.
“People would see it was a surprise. Tipperary were All Ireland champions with 10 of last years panel still available to them. We played them on their own patch. We were quietly confident that we had a good panel of players and that our preparation was right. The good thing for us as a panel is that there is still more to come from this team. We can improve. There were pleasing aspects of the win against Tipperary, yet we can still improve on so much. It was a great victory”
With one favourite accounted for, Ryan is quick to talk up Waterford. The Deise minors stand in the way of Limerick’s charge for only their sixth ever Munster Minor crown. The last victory at under 18 level was back in 1984.
“Waterford have won the All Ireland colleges ‘A’ and ‘B’. They went down to Cork and beat Cork. The Munster final being talked about all year was a Tipperary and Waterford final, so they would have had their heads on for this trophy for some time now. They have been great at under age in colleges for some time. They will be a tough nut to crack. We have to make sure that we work twice as hard as we did against Tipperary if we are going to be in with a shout. Although I would be quite confident that if we are there or there abouts with 10 minutes to go, we can deliver.”
Much has been made of this Limerick panel. The backroom team of Eamon Cregan and Paul Finn have been working continuously with these players all season with July 14 in mind.
“Originally, it started with the Forrestal tournament at under 14. We emphasised back then that just because a fella was on a Forrestal etc panel, that he wasn’t automatically going to be on next season’s panel,” Limerick legend Cregan commented.
“You have to pick 24. We have 35 of a panel for every session and some lads have to be left out. Before the Tipperary game, we told the 11 lads who did not make it that we would give them every chance to get back in, should we win. We did that and we made sure that we were back up to 35 once more. Due to the lads playing well, we won but the hardest thing to do is tell a young player that he is not involved. We have a balance between 17 and leaving, so we never broke training. That continuity helped us,” the All Ireland winning manager continued.
With so much hype surrounding the senior side, manager Ryan feels that could be a positive for Limerick minors.
“I think it is a help really. I think it will be a huge day for Limerick hurling. It will be great to have some green and white supporters in early for the first game. The last time we played in a minor final in Cork, we were a little lost in the environment. It is great for the minors too to have the seniors in the final, as it will take the pressure off of the lads.”
Possible Limerick Minor team:
C Ryan; J Porter, R English, S Finn; S Ryan, A LaTouche Cosgrave, S Flanagan; J Butler, D Donovan; B Nash, R Lynch, C Lynch; D Coleman, D Dempsey, P Ryan.