MAYOR Kathleen Leddin has said the people of Limerick are “very proud of their hurlers for the great summer they have given us” as John Allen’s young team bowed out of the All-Ireland championship to neighbours Clare.
The estimated 35,000 Limerick fans who travelled to Croke Park on Sunday endured double disappointment as both the senior and minor hurlers lost their semi-finals.
“We have had a couple of very enjoyable days out and they are a young team with hopefully great things ahead of them,” said Mayor Leddin from Croke Park.
“What struck me was it was a very clean match that was an example of all that is good in hurling. The way that they fought back in the second half after that start and never gave up was very encouraging.”
While she acknowledged Clare were the better team on the day, Limerick’s hurlers had given a lot of joy to supporters in the city and county this year.
“Most of them are in their early 20s and have years of sport ahead of them. And now that they have the experience of Croke Park behind them, that will stand to them as well. They should not let this dishearten them. The Limerick people are still very proud of their hurlers for the great summer they have given us. They are our Munster champions and there’s more to come from them,” said the mayor.
Clare’s greater skill levels were crucial to the outcome of the game, according to retired city insurance broker Michael Henchy Senior, a native of Ruan who along with his brother Pat represented the Banner in the 1950s.
Michael and his Limerick wife Nancy were dressed in their county colours as they enjoyed the game at home on North Circular Road.
“Clare had better hurling skills. They may not have been as fit as Limerick but they were better readers of the game and when they got the ball they were more skilful with it. Maybe it’s the smaller fields outside in Clare that helps them because if you go too far, you are up against a stone wall,” said Michael.
Another Limerick resident who still has something to shout for in the All-Ireland Final is John O’Halloran, Monaleen.
Centre-forward on the Cork team that won the 1966 All-Ireland Final, John has spent much of his working life in Limerick, where he founded the Limerick Tutorial Centre.
Hurling is not on the curriculum but Limerick’s David Breen and Conor Allis and Clare’s Patrick Kelly and John Conlon are former students.
“I’m gutted for Limerick but Clare played outstanding hurling on the day. They outsmarted Limerick and did the same to them as they did against Galway by putting a man in between full-back and centre-back mopping up everything.
“Obviously, I’ll be shouting for Cork in the final but I wouldn’t begrudge Limerick or Clare an All-Ireland. Congratulations to Clare but I’m gutted for Limerick, who I’m sure will be the stronger for the experience,” he said.