PRIDE and passion washed over every street and parish in Limerick this week after the county’s hurlers gallant victory over the old foe, Tipperary, in a thrilling Munster championship semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds.
After a six-year famine since their last Munster championship win, Limerick’s hurlers reduced grown men to tears in Pairc na nGael when they edged out the Premier County in a dramatic finale.
The raw emotion sparked a pitch invasion and scenes of wild jubilation, which many GAA commentators likened to the moment the final whistle is blown in a Munster final or All-Ireland final.
It would be an hour after the game before many of the Treaty County’s brave soldiers left the sod of the Ennis road venue after their rip-roaring display in 25 degree heat.
“Anyone who was at the match will see what it meant to all the Limerick people,” full-forward Declan Hannon told the Leader this week.
Already, the scramble for tickets for the provincial showdown with either Cork or Clare has begun.
The final on July 14 could take place in the Gaelic Grounds – if Cork beat Clare in the other semi-final on June 23 – resulting in a huge economic boost for the region. “They say that a match in Thomond Park is worth €4m or €5m to the local economy for a 27,000 capacity so we would be looking at around 45,000 capacity,” commented Mike O’Riordan, secretary of Limerick County Board.
Among those cheering on the boys in green on Sunday were Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, who described the current crop of players as “the best Limerick team we have seen in a long time.
“I thought they were fantastic – it was a real Munster hurling day,” said Minister Noonan, who played hurling with St Patrick’s College in Drumcondra in his student days.
The players, he said, “showed great heart and passion in the jersey. Even when they fell behind in the middle of the second half, a lot of people thought that it was going to be a repeat of last year but they had huge morale and great courage and they rallied and they came out on top.
“Of course, they have a good bench as well.”