O’Neill an invaluable cog in the green machine

Cathal O’Neill trying to break free of Galway’s Daithí Burke and Cianan Fahy during the recent semi-final outing. Photo: Ray McManus.

YOUNG Cathal O’Neill has roads of hurling ahead! The 21-year-old has made a tremendous impact in all of Limerick’s championship outings across 2023, contributing 1-10 thus far.

He has chipped in as both a starter and, in particular, as an impact substitute, most notably as Limerick carved-out a slender win over Clare in an enthralling Munster Final at the Gaelic Grounds last month.

A product of junior outfit Crecora/Manister, he is among the younger breed – Adam English/Colin Coughlan, etc. – that have blended well into John Kiely’s set-up, helped by some of the more established elder statesmen.

“The lads around us are very good, they are helping out young lads coming in, they are making them feel welcome,” O’Neill told gaa.ie.

“That is one of the strengths of the group, John (Kiely) always talks about making everyone feel welcome and encouraging everyone. For a young fella it does take time to adapt to the inter-county scene. They are very good at making us feel welcome and at home.”

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He continued: “I think John, Caroline (Currid), and Paul (Kinnerk) place a big emphasis and significance on the enjoyment factor because you have to.”

“If you don’t enjoy it, you aren’t going to perform. It is as simple as that. You are spending so much time going to the gym, worrying about your diet, training, that you have to enjoy it to get the most of yourself. You are only going to play well if you are enjoying it. So it is very important.”

Concluded O’Neill: “You are always going to have your ups and downs, like any player in sport. You just try to keep as consistent as possible, not to get too high with the highs or too low with the lows. That is important.”