Martin Kiely Column - Minor hurlers must learn their lessons

Limerick's minor hurling management pictured in Pairc Ui Rinn before the Munster MHC clash with Cork; Leo O'Connor (manager), Pat Donnelly (selector), John Mulqueen (selector), Brian Foley (selector) and Anthony Daly (coach)
In this week’s Limerick Leader column Martin Kiely looks back on the Limerick’s Munster MHC game against Cork.

In this week’s Limerick Leader column Martin Kiely looks back on the Limerick’s Munster MHC game against Cork.

The whirlwinds that propelled the Limerick minor hurlers over the past two years were calmed by a quality Cork team last week.

Limerick were chasing three Munster titles in a row but by the time the game was over the management were left with many questions that will need answering if they are to progress against Waterford in the next round.

It was a smashing evening for hurling and Limerick were backed by six of the team that played in Croke Park last September. In total Limerick had 14 of last year’s panel to work with and that gave the new management team a huge foundation to work from but when the final whistle sounded it was plain to see that the team were not anywhere near the level they were last year as far as hurling was concerned. Cork had squeezed them in the final minutes before halftime and in the opening ten minutes of the second half.

Limerick started the game well and by 20 minutes they were leading 1-7 to 0-5. Seamus Flanagan was going well and had accounted for 1-2 of that total. Barry Murphy was moving with purpose and scored two great points and he also came so close to scoring a goal. It was a very good start by Limerick.

I watched the first half of this game from behind the Limerick goal. They had a storm at their backs and they should have made better use of it. Despite the good start by Limerick it was clear Cork were plugging away and winning a fair share of possession. Proof of that was scores were now harder to come by. With just three minutes to go to half time Limerick were leading by seven points.

Cork pressed hard during this time and Shane Kingston was the man pulling them into the game. On the third attempt Cork’s Tim O’Mahony scored an unlikely goal after Eoghan McNamara had made two good saves. That left just three between them at the break.

Even before Cork scored that goal Limerick were in trouble around midfield and also in the half forward line. The Cork half backs and midfield were strong and really good on the ball.

Peter Casey was one of the best corner forwards in the country last year at minor level. Why then play him at centre forward? The sideline was very slow in this regard and equally so leaving Seamus Flanagan at full forward for the entire game. He was the man to bring to centre forward. Cork had the game level four minutes into the second half and from here on Cork blew Limerick away. Limerick’s hurling was slow, they won no ball in the air and you could see the lack of hurling in the team.

Over the last couple of years Limerick were hurling three nights a week and a match on the weekend. Hurling only one night a week in the crucial four to five weeks before a big game was poor foresight by the management team.

Cork really expressed themselves in the second half, they moved the ball fast and you could see they were a well-coached team. On the field the young Limerick hurlers were losing the battle but I think the management placed a little too much stock in the challenge game against Kilkenny. I did write at the time that Kilkenny were short ten of their team.

The Limerick management team were very slow. They allowed Shane Kingston dominate the game and when they did decide to do something about it the game was over. One would really have to question them in how they lined out the team and unless they get that right they will find it hard to beat a Waterford team that did most of the good hurling against Tipperary.

I note a couple of lads on the panel were playing soccer in the run up to this game and indeed they might well be playing again two nights before they face Waterford. I have no difficulty with lads playing other sports but you cannot do it at the higher level. Some times hard calls have to be made. If lads miss hurling training because of other sports then the management must manage. This was not allowed during the past two years.

Limerick are 60 minutes away from going out of the Munster championship and the management have some reflection to do before that game.

Limerick have some good players and I would give them a fair chance of beating Waterford but that loss to Cork might have left some scar tissue.