LIMERICK AND not Kilkenny could easily have won the 2014 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, according to Cats legend Jackie Tyrrell.
The Shannonsiders entered that season’s All-Ireland semi-final against an in-form Kilkenny team and put in one serious display, one that ultimately again just fell short.
Brian Cody’s outfit wriggled out of the situation, advanced to meet Tipperary in the final but only emerged as kingpins following a replay. Conditions for the semi-final were “borrowed from the end of the world,” recalled Tyrrell in his autobiography ‘The Warriors Code.’
“It was primal. Feral. The rain storm was raw and relentless. The floodlights were on but you could hardly see anything at times. They were unimaginable conditions for hurling but I loved it. We were hanging on by our fingertip but I never felt as alive in my life. It almost felt transcendent.
“We were desperately trying to stay alive, to keep afloat. Everything was underpinned by a relentless expectancy that anything could happen next, that one fatal error could sink us.
“It was so breathless that it almost felt like a dream. And yet we were living so much on the edge that we were living in the fullest sense.”
He added: “It was all king of magical. It felt like there was 120,000 at the game. We didn’t think Limerick would bring it but they brought absolute war to Croke Park that day.
“They had us on the rack. They should have beaten us. We were on the brink but Limerick couldn’t push us over the precipice.
“It was a mad, crazy experience but we had that strange but warm feeling walking off the field afterwards, half-giggling, knowing we probably should have been beaten, but acknowledging and appreciating that, despite everything we weren’t defeated.
“Up to that point of the season, we had answered all the questions asked of us. We annihilated Offaly. We beat Galway well after a replay.
“We hammered Dublin in the Leinster final but we were only really forced to dig into our resources of willpower and motivation when Limerick charged at us like a rhinoceros in that third quarter when outscoring us by six points to one. We repelled the charge and flattened them with a run of late scores.”
Limerick supporters can only look-on in awe at Jackie Tyrrell, who during his 14 years with the most decorated hurling county claimed nine All-Irelands, 11 Leinster titles and four All-Star Awards. He won his first All-Ireland in 2003 and was part of the four-in-a-row winning side of 2006-’09.
Limerick’s season’s begins today when they face Cork in the Co-op Superstores Munster Senior Hurling League. John Kiely’s Limerick are 18/1 to win the 2018 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.
• ‘The Warriors Code – Jackie Tyrrell, My Autobiograhy,’ with Christy O’Connor is produced by Trinity Mirror Sport Media and is widely available for purchase at around €20.