THE pain of Limerick’s All-Ireland U-21 hurling championship semi-final defeat has been softened by the news that Limerick GAA officials have begun negotiations with senior manager Donal O’Grady to extend his stay on Shannonside.
Officially O’Grady’s tenure in Limerick ended over the weekend and from the outset of his appointment he stated that he was only interested in staying with Limerick for one season.
However, it now appears that the former Cork All-Ireland winner is to be tempted to remain in charge for at least another season. Rumours persisted over the weekend that O’Grady had agreed to continue but County Board officials were remaining tightlipped.
While any positive news on O’Grady continuing as manager would receive a broad welcome there was despair in Limerick after confirmation from Croke Park on Saturday that Limerick is to remain outside of hurling’s elite for next season’s Allianz Hurling League.
Despite winning promotion to Division One with April’s league final victory over Clare, a restructuring of the league for 2012 is to see Limerick placed in Division 1B along with Clare, Offaly, Wexford, Laois and Antrim.
After five rounds of action, the top two sides will contest a final with just the winners promoted.
No doubt, many of this season’s U-21s will be given a chance to impress when the league resumes next spring.
They endured heartbreak in Thurles on Saturday evening when they lost to Galway, 0-22 to 2-14 in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Leo O’Connor’s side never reached the heights of their epic Munster final victory over Cork.
“Twenty two points is a lot to concede – we missed a few handy scores that were there for the taking,” said a disappointed O’Connor afterwards.
“We created goal chances and didn’t take them and hence we have a two point defeat.”
Limerick captain Kevin Downes lined out despite suffering a cracked bone in his hand during the Munster final just over two weeks ago.
However the full forward was forced off before half time.
“Kevin did his utmost to get there and you could see that the little bit of sharpness just wasn’t there. You can do all the running you want but the first touch was lacking,” said the Limerick manager.
Downes is now is a race against time to be fit for the county senior championship quarter finals this weekend. His Na Piarsaigh side face Doon, champions Kilmallock play Patrickswell, Ahane face Adare and intermediate champions Hospital-Herbertstown play Emmets.