THE Limerick minor footballers face a tough championship opener on Saturday at 7pm when they take on Cork in the Gaelic Grounds.
Tom McGlinchey’s side have been busy on the travel-match circuit in recent weeks and games against Kildare, Galway, Clare, Leitrim and Offaly have them as ready as they can be for a game against as strong a side as Cork.
“The Kildare game last week didn’t go too well for us,” said McGlinchey, “but at this age it’s all about learning and we’ve had some good games and we’re happy enough. We’re under no illusions playing Cork - they’re always very strong at minor and they have such a big pick that they will always have a good side.”
Limerick were beaten by eventual All Ireland champions Tipperary in the opening round last year before bowing out of the championship when beaten by Clare in the qualifying section.
McGlinchey was over that team too and a number of them are underage again this time around.
Captain Daniel Daly and vice captain James O’Meara, both from Fr Casey’s, are well used to winning, albeit at club level, while the likes of dual players David Condron (Granagh-Ballingarry) and Darragh Donovan (Oola) are talented operators who are busy juggling both codes. Condron, who was in goals last year but is expected to be named outfield this year, is one of four players who played last year - the other three being Eoin O’Donnell, Sean Barrett and Kevin Meade.
While Limerick are massive outsiders to win the game, the safety net of a qualifier is in place for the losers. The winners of this game will play the winners of Kerry and Tipperary in the Munster semi-final - the losers go into a Munster quarter-final where they’ll play the winners of the playoff game between the losers of Waterford/Clare and Kerry/Tipperary.
“Win, lose or draw, we’ll be getting another game,” says McGlinchey. “I’d urge people to get out and support them in the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday night.
“We’re coming from a low base in Limerick but while it would be great to win a minor championship, we’re trying to introduce players to county football and prepare them for senior county football down the line.”
Cork are managed by former Limerick selector Ephie Fitzgerald and their star man is centre-back Brian O’Driscoll who was on the Cork U-21 panel that played Kerry in Wednesday night’s Munster final.