“The better team won” – John Allen


Limerick v Clare - GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-FinalNOW that the dust has settled after Limerick’s shock defeat to Clare last Sunday, thoughts have turned to how the game unfolded and what Limerick might have done to turn the tide. Speaking after the game, Limerick manager John Allen admitted his side were beaten by a better team as he lamented over tactical switches which might have been made.
“The better team won – that goes without saying,” Allen said in the immediate aftermath.
“We never got a hold on the game. You would have to say we were chasing the game all the time. We made poor use of the ball. Our conversion rate was poor. Our free-taking wasn’t great,” continued the Cork native.
“All of those added up and having said all of that, probably at half-time, if we had converted all of the frees we had missed in the first half, we might have only gone in two points down instead of seven down. But that is grasping at straws in a way. We weren’t winning any line.”
Limerick’s inability to get up to the pace of the game which had been set by Clare was a telling factor. The men in green and white looked at least a yard off in some cases, something that will no doubt puzzle the players and management alike, seeing as Limerick had themselves been the pace setters in their two previous games. Manager John Allen was not using the five week gap between games as an excuse, however he did concede that it was not an “ideal” situation.
“I wouldn’t use it [the five-week gap since the Munster final] as an excuse, but it certainly isn’t ideal. If you were talking about the Premier League and there was a five-week break between games, sure, form goes out the window. How do you keep players in that form? Whatever confidence they had coming off the Munster final is way gone. It is not an excuse, but it’s not ideal. It’s too long.”
Allen was quick to dismiss any issues with the players attitude towards the game. The hype in the county was at an all time high before throw in, but Allen did not see anything in the build up which might have suggested a sluggish or even over confident attitude.
“I didn’t notice anything before the game, our preparation was similar, and the atmosphere in the dressing-room was good. There wasn’t a tangible tension around the players. Maybe the fact that we were chasing the game unnerved fellas. We weren’t winning in the half-forwards or midfield, our backs were under pressure. Then they got the goal, and it looked like we were nervous, then. But I didn’t foresee that. And I didn’t see any evidence of arrogance or fellas not preparing themselves mentally like they did for the last game. I don’t think hype was an issue either but I don’t know definitively, either.”
As it now stands, John Allen’s two year term with the Limerick hurling team is up. The All Ireland winning coach is expected to sit down with the players and county board officials in the coming weeks discuss the future.
“I initially agreed to two years, so I will talk to the County Board over the next few weeks now and we will discuss that,” explained Allen, who guided Limerick to the Munster senior title this season.
Asked about whether he would like to remain, Allen was shy in answering.
“I am not sure really what I’ll do. I don’t know is the answer. The board might say to me: ‘Sorry John, your time is up’. It’s something over the next few weeks we will discuss. I initially agreed to two years, so I will talk to the board over the next few weeks now and we will discuss that. I am not sure really what I’ll do. I don’t know is the answer”
With Allen having delivered a first Munster senior hurling crown since 1996, the decision as to whether he will continue might just be down to the man himself. There are no indications at this stage that the county board will be seeking a replacement.