JP McMANUS made a surprise visit to the Limerick dressing room on Sunday afternoon where he gave a morale-boosting speech to the hurlers, after their heartbreaking All-Ireland semi-final defeat.
The softly-spoken team sponsor entered the tear-filled Croke Park dressing room just minutes after the loss to Clare where he offered words of encouragement to the crestfallen squad.
“He only spoke for about four or five minutes but everything he said you took it in because you know he is a Limerickman at heart and he meant every bit of it,” said player Shane Dowling.
Recalling the raw emotion in the dressing room at the time, the Na Piarsaigh man said that many of the team were inconsolable.
“You need a lift at times like that,” continued the wing forward. “There were plenty of tears in the dressing room. I would be bottling it all up inside and I wouldn’t be one for tears running down my face but when you see someone like Niall Moran who has given so much service, you couldn’t help but be emotional.”
When JP walked in, the squad, he said, immediately gathered together to listen to what he had to say.
“He made it his business to come in and talk to us. Everyone wants to see you after winning a Munster final but it’s when you lose, not the same people will always be around you. JP wasn’t in the dressing room after the Munster final – he didn’t need to be. It was very nice to see him come in on Sunday.”
According to Shane you could hear a pin drop as JP gave his morale-boosting address.
“He was saying he was very proud of us and it was wasn’t our day. He was telling us to keep our heads high and not to forget what we have achieved, that we can build on it and we are on the right road. He was very disappointed that things didn’t work out – and they didn’t work out,” said Shane, who scored six points after he was introduced at the end of the first half.
JP, Shane said, “has been a “fantastic” support to the hurlers for many years.
“I don’t know do people realise how much we appreciate it. Without him we wouldn’t have the opportunity to be as professional as we have been. Not only does he have the respect of the dressing room but he has the respect of Limerick. When a man like JP comes in, you listen.”
Reflecting on the game itself, Shane said it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong on Sunday. “It would be different if you were underdogs and couldn’t compete at the highest level. With the way the year panned out we knew we had an opportunity to win an All-Ireland. I don’t know whether we didn’t perform on the day or we weren’t allowed to perform.”
For many of the players it was a case of back to work this week, as they returned to their days jobs.
“It’s back to work now and back to focusing on our clubs.”