LIMERICK’S senior hurlers are in prime position to have a tilt at both Munster and All-Ireland titles according for former captain Ciaran Carey.
The Patrickswell clubman has been mightily impressed with John Kiely’s men so far in 2018 and expects them to come through their visit to Cork on Saturday with flying colours.
“Limerick will go with huge confidence to Cork,” said Carey. Tipperary were poor the first day but they were poor because Limerick drove them off the park in my opinion. I believe there is no reason why they can’t go down to Páirc Uí Chaoimh and hurl with the same arrogance as they showed against Tipperary.
“It’s two points in the bag and there is still another 40% to come from the team and squad. That’s hugely encouraging as well that they won and didn’t have to go flat to the mat to do it.”
Carey also believes that Limerick are now beginning to see the benefit of the sterling work put in to the younger players in recent times, with the senior panel now among the best in the country.
He even likened John Kiely’s charges to that of the all-conquering Dublin football side of the last number of years, believing that Limerick have the ability to be their hurling equivalent.
“Even when you look at the likes of Kevin Downes, Barry Nash and Tom Condon didn’t make the 26 against Tipperary. Three very experienced players. Everybody can see Dublin’s footballers being the benchmark in and around physicality, power and strength. It’s great to be able to sit down and say that I think Limerick are the top of the pile when it comes to the hurling presently.”
Carey also commended his fellow clubmen Aaron Gillane, Cian Lynch and Diarmaid Byrnes for their performances in that Tipperary victory. Gillane sent over eight points in the 1-23 to 2-13 win, while Lynch and Byrnes also impressed. The latter earned the man of the match award.
“It was huge for Aaron Gillane,” Carey commented. It was his debut in Munster and was a massive day. Irrespective of what way the ball came in, he was out in front and prepared to give it a cut. He had extra pressure on him as well being on the frees and he came through that with flying colours. From a club point of view it was great to see.”
Carey and Cork legend Diarmuid ‘The Rock’ O’Sullivan were speaking ahead of The Bord Gáis Energy Rewards Tour which they host this coming Friday at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
O’Sullivan recalled some of his memories of playing Limerick during his illustrious career. One famous one was the point he scored against Limerick in 2001 but the result didn’t go Cork’s way on that occasion.
“It was Ciaran that pucked the ball into me,” joked O’Sullivan. He gave me a lovely handy pass. I suppose my memory of that game is that there was a more important score when Barry Foley got a beautiful sideline.
“A beautiful and more technical one than running out and knocking a fella out of the way. Way more technical and way more skilful. Limerick won that game by a point and that would be my abiding memory of that one really.
“Any time that you come up against Limerick you knew you were going to get honesty, full commitment and that’s what’s expected. Limerick have a lot of technically good players and will have a major role to play in this Championship and Championship’s going forward.”
O’Sullivan also believes that Limerick will come down to Cork full of confidence and that Kiely’s side are one to watch out for, now and in the future.
“We have played Limerick a lot of times over the last number of years in behind closed doors challenge games and what not. Limerick are a coming outfit. It’s going to make for a wonderful occasion on Saturday evening I have no doubt about it and Limerick won’t fear coming to Cork.
“They are young and don’t know any different. They have no baggage. Both sets of players will come and express themselves so it will make for a good one.”
Both O’Sullivan and Carey are fans of the new hurling round robin format in both Leinster and Munster saying that it is the way forward for the sport.