Pa Ranahan: No matter what obstacle gets put in front of you, “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”

WHEN it comes to films, my father is a big fan of Westerns. And any flick that has Clint Eastwood in it also gets the green light. So when those 2 elements combine, as is the case in “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”, we’re onto a winner.

Happy days.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Limerick Footballers mood Sunday after their performance in their penultimate league game. And with Limericks trip to the “Wild” West on the horizon, this classic spaghetti western came to mind while watching the stream of last weekend’s game.

The Ugly

The body language of Billy Lee in his post match interview said it all. It wasn’t that Limerick lost. As he has often said, there is so much more in the world that should occupy the mind than the result of a football match, especially in the current climate. But the manner of the defeat is what caused the greatest disappointment. It was an ugly performance in parts. Some of the stats help bare that out. 14 missed point attempts. 5 goal chances not converted. 2 from 7 from deadball efforts.

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Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Pairc Ui Rinn, Cork 1/6/2019 Cork vs Limerick Limerick goalkeeper Donal O’Sullivan dejected after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Some players certainly played up to their high standards, but more will know that they didn’t. The self inflicted wounds from unforced turnovers resulting in Wexford scores was an area that just deflated the lads at crucial times, and the concession of a soft goal just before the break summed up the first half from Limerick.

The lads will be gutted that they produced probably their worst half of the league at such a crucial juncture. Having another bite of the cherry so soon after offers an opportunity to rectify that.

The Bad

This was seen as a rare chance to seal promotion with a game to spare. With Wexford having to travel a long distance, Limerick would have hoped to start quickly. Unfortunately it was the away team that flew out of the blocks.

In those Western films, there is often a duel between two of the main characters, and whoever is quickest on the draw is usually the one left standing. You don’t see either of the gunslingers waiting to see if the other guy has a good shot! Similarly, waiting to see how good the other team are before you react isn’t going to serve you well too often.

The games this year where Limerick have hit the ground running have generally ended in positive results. An early score settles everyone, no matter how or where it comes from. They need to be quick on the draw in Sligo on Saturday.

Attacking breaking ball & supporting each other when trying to break down the opposition defence was missing throughout the Wexford game. There seemed to be almost a fear of losing instead of having a cut at winning.

Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Pairc Ui Rinn, Cork 1/6/2019 Cork vs Limerick Limerick’s Paul Maher Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Getting a result in Sligo is going to be a tough task now. Markievicz Park hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Limerick in recent trips. But if you had offered Limerick this opportunity at the beginning of the league they would definitely have taken it.

The Good

And thats the big thing heading into this final game: it’s all still in Limericks hands. They don’t have to wait on results from elsewhere. No working out permutations or watching phones. This is a league final in its truest form. Win and you’re up. It’s not a day for trying to protect what you have. Rather its for grabbing what you want to have.

The other good thing from a Limerick point of view is that the mistakes in the Wexford game were of their own making, so can be self corrected. Not as easy as it sounds obviously, but it’s also not as complicated as it needs to be. Simple things done to an excellent level will lead to positive outcomes.

Executing a ten yard handpass perfectly can be the difference between a score for or a score against. Fine margins define seasons. The Wexford game showed that there is a never say die spirit in the team, cutting the deficit from 8 to 2, and being the width of the post away from levelling with the last play of the game. It also showed that there is strength in depth in the panel, with all those introduced having a positive impact.

If Clint were to offer some words of wisdom for those men in green heading up to Sligo at the weekend, he might pull a quote from his Gunny Highway role. No matter what obstacle gets put in front of you, “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome” (Heartbreak Ridge).

2 January 2020; Limerick manager Billy Lee during the 2020 McGrath Cup Group A match between Waterford and Limerick at Fraher Field in Dungarvan, Waterford. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

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