In this week’s Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely writes that in a championship of twists and turns Limerick will take a bit of beating.
It’s been an amazing hurling championship so far this year and I get the sense that before September comes around we will have some more twists in the tale of a championship that for me could yet produce a surprise winner of the All Ireland title.
What we have seen so far is that very little now separates the majority of teams and while we have had some drama it can be said that the standards have dropped back and a few teams can now hold a realistic chance of winning the All Ireland title.
In what we have seen so far it’s fair to say that if Limerick is well organised and have a plan in place they are capable of matching the best of them now and in that regard the next couple of weeks will be very interesting in the development of this team.
The gap between the few top teams of recent years and the chasing pack has been well shortened and a number of them can have genuine aspirations of winning major silverware before the season ends. Limerick had a huge chance last year and that was not taken when they played Clare in the All Ireland semi final. Mistakes were made in the lead up and on the day and we can only hope lessons will have been learned and put to good use in the weeks and months ahead.
The hurling championship has been shaken up and the next few weeks will decide a lot as finals will be played in Munster and Leinster, of course the hurling qualifiers will also be in full swing and that might see some big names leaving the stage without taking a bow.
The Munster final carries huge importance for Limerick as a win will put them just a game away from reaching the All Ireland Final for the first time since 2007. I have studied Cork greatly both in the flesh and on video over the past few weeks and I feel Limerick have a huge chance of winning against them if they have their homework done.
Regardless of what happens in the Munster final very few will be too happy to play Limerick but in reality Limerick need to go through the front door. Last year the long layoff didn’t help them but there’s time enough to be dealing with that after the Munster final.
Kilkenny looked to have booked their Leinster final spot last Sunday against Galway when they led by ten points but it shows how fast the game of hurling can change and now Galway will feel they have a great chance of winning the replay. The loser of that game will face Tipperary a week later in the hurling qualifier and that will see a title contender leave the stage.
Limerick have added a few new players to the squad over the past couple of weeks but they must make sure to have people on the bench that can make a serious contribution when called upon on Munster final day. Hard calls will have to be made but such calls will define where this team is going for the remainder of the championship.
Limerick need to strengthen the subs bench because Cork have used five subs in all of their three championship games so far and they now feel they have men ready to contribute when called upon.
The next two weeks will carry the most importance for Limerick, during this time the hard work and planning should be done which will allow an easy run in on the week of the game. Some of the big guns are now watching Limerick as they are seen as dark horses for this championship.